Reading Journal (27 January): Addicted

I volunteer at a local library on Friday mornings, and I noticed something odd about myself. As I was going to leave the library, I realized I hadn’t checked anything out. I had a book on hold for me at a different branch, and I had more than a dozen books at home. But I hadn’t checked anything out that day. I was itching inside. I was ill-at-ease.

So what did I do? I browsed among Charles Dickens and found a book, a beautiful new book with a nice binding and new book smell, and checked it out. I felt so much better.

I don’t buy books. In fact, when I moved to my first home last year, we were under budget constraints so except for a few $1 books from the library sale cart, I purposely did not buy a book between February and December. But it surprised me that checking out a book was as much an addiction as some people find buying books. At least it’s free!

Weird sensation, though, to realize my body and mind felt the need to check out a book. Not that I’m going to read it this week or next. I just needed a book as I walked out of the library.

Are you addicted to checking out library books?

Are you addicted to buying books? I’ve always wondered how people fund that addiction. Books are expensive!

My week in reading was good. I enjoyed Sir Gawain, although it wasn’t a favorite, and I’ve already talked about The Housekeeper and the Professor.  Although I’m finding my project book a little bit of a drag, I’m making progress. And the Zora Neale Hurston is a fast-paced novel that I really enjoy! I plan on reading To the Lighthouse first (for the Woolf in Winter readalong), and while I’m not enjoying it as I did Mrs. Dalloway, it’s also not bad. I shouldn’t give an opinion until I finish, because my mind could be changed.

I started dabbling in Inventing English, and I look forward to reading it slowly. Half the Sky is fascinating: it shows me how naïve and ignorant I am of the plight of women around the world. I suspect I will go through it quickly because it is so interesting to me.

What are you reading this week?

P.S. Apologies to those who were on Twitter the other night for the lack of a vlog. I chickened out.

Finished Books

  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation trans. Simon Armitage (200, but half of that is the original Middle English; fiction/really old classic). For the Really Old Classics Challenge.
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (190 pages; fiction). For the Japanese Literature Challenge 3 and the Japanese Literature Book Group.
  • Golden Slippers, an anthology of Negro poetry for young readers (200 pages; poetry). A collection of Harlem Renaissance poetry.

Abandoned/Returned Books

  • All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. I couldn’t bring myself to read it. Maybe some day!

Currently Reading

Each week, I list my progress so I can see how my reading compares week to week. I did make a little progress on some of these.

My Books

Here are the books I own or downloaded. I’ve been rather horrible at reading my project book this week! I still have eleven days in the month to finish it, though, so it’s okay.

  • Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and Their Messages by Karen Lynn Davidson (100 read of 455 pages; nonfiction).
  • History of the English-Speaking People by Winston Churchill, abridged by Henry Steele Commager (370 read of 470; nonfiction). My Project Book. For some reason, I thought there were 415 pages so I was gauging my daily read by that. I just realized it has 470 pages. Better read faster!

Old Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (110 read of 315 pages; fiction). For Woolf in Winter.
  • Moses, man of the mountain by Zora Neale Hurston (105 read of 300 pages; fiction).
  • Inventing English: a portable history of the language by Seth Lerer (20 read of about 250 pages; nonfiction).
  • Black no more : a novel by George S. Schuyler. For the February Classics Circuit.
  • The picture of Dorian Gray (Norton Critical Edition) by Oscar Wilde. For my book club.
  • Oscar Wilde’s The picture of Dorian Gray: a graphic novel by Ian Culbard. Since I’m reading the original for my book club.
  • A visit to William Blake’s inn: poems for innocent and experienced travelers by Nancy Willard. A Newbery and Caldecott winner.
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck. For the Classics Reads Book Group. I haven’t started, so I’ll be a bit behind the others.
  • Kings : an account of books 1 and 2 of Homer’s Iliad; The husbands : an account of books 3 and 4; All day permanent red : the first battle scenes of Homer’s Iliad; and War music : an account of books 16 to 19 of Homer’s Iliad by Christopher Logue. These are each short (80-100 pages). For the retelling portion of the Really Old Classics Challenge.
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. My Valentine’s Day read; I’ve never read it.

New Library Loot

  • Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into opportunity for women worldwide by Nicholas Kristof (50 read of 250 pages; nonfiction).
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. My impulse pick.


  • Haruki Murakami (Jackie’s suggestion for Japanese Lit)
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo (Sherry’s suggestion for Japanese Lit)
  • The Wind-up Bird Chronicle; Strangers;  Be With You; The Old Capital (Gnoe’s suggestions for JLit)
  • Kenzaburo Oe’s A Quiet Life (Emily’s suggestion for JLit)
  • The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. Nymeth.
  • The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. Steph.
  • Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglas. Eva.
  • Character by F. Bordewijk. Myrthe.

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. I have been better when it comes to checking books out from the library–there were a few months there when I went overboard and checked out way too many books. I want to have a chance to read what I check out, so I have been restraining myself.

    I buy books quite a bit too. If I have a bit of extra money or there is a special occasion. It does get expensive, but there are some books I like to have, so I will buy those.

  2. A few years ago I stopped buying books and really switched over to the library. It helps to have access to a first-rate library. I know that’s not true for everyone.

  3. Last night I was on the library website. I was reserving a book for some research I’m doing on my novel. However, I didn’t stop there. I found myself reserving book after book. I went to the new books section and reserved a couple there then I reserved another book for my research and a book by Alexandre Dumas. When it comes to books, I just can’t help it.

    As far as buying books, I do so often, but the majority of books come from used book sales, etc. (friends of library sales, goodwill). I buy new books only occasionally. My last library sale I purchased 16 books, a movie, and two CDs for $19.00. Quite a steal 🙂

  4. I’m addicted to checking out library books AND to buying books. I’ve had to “limit” my wandering in the library and bookstores and try only to go in when I have something specific in mind so I don’t pick up too many books.
    That said, both the library and a bookstores are on my direct route home from work and after a rough day there is nothing like bibliotherapy …….

  5. I too am addicted to checking out library books and I would be to buying books too but my budget holds me back. I only buy books I really, really want to own. My real addiction though seems to be “looking” for books that I want to read. I can spend more time researching and finding books I want to add to my TBR list then I actually do reading sometimes!

  6. I’m an addict too. I’ve recently tried to reign in my book buying addiction by using the library, and now I’m addicted to the library! At least it’s free. For affording my book buying habit, I married a guy with a discount to Barnes and Noble. 🙂 My husband manages a Game Stop, and they’re owned by B&N and so we get 25% off, plus once or twice a year they do special 40% discount weeks, so I buy a lot of books then. I also frequent Half-Price Books and library book sales. I usually buy between 50-100 books at our library book sale each year, and only spend $25-50. I also use Amazon a lot. I haven’t paid full price for a book in years.
    At the library, the online reserve process is killing me! Everytime I read about a book I’m interested in, I put it on my reserve list, but then I end up with a million books to check out. And then I go pick them up and grab a few extras, so they keep multiplying.

  7. I’m addicted to the library and to buying books. I’ve always got something checked out or on hold at the library. I fund my books buying by mostly buying secondhand on sale and selling back books I didn’t like or know I will never read again for a store credit to buy more books 🙂

  8. I find it difficult to leave a library with out getting something, but I’m not sure I’m addicted, as I find it easy to avoid the library.

    I think I’m addicted to books, but not checking them out of a library!

  9. Oh I am so jealous of people who can reign in their book buying! I travel for work A LOT so am constantly in airports… combine that with the fact that it is almost torture to walk by a bookstore without going in and we have a VERY BAD problem. It turns out that about 90% of my disposable income goes to books…

    I have become a little bit better… if I do go in once I see one I want I force myself to get it and leave immediately before anything else catches my eye. My only saving grace is the fact that I know that not many more will fit in the suitcase 😉

  10. I tend to only go to the library when I have something in particular in mind that I want to take out (generally something I’ve put on hold), so it is rare for me to leave without borrowing something! But generally I do wind up taking more than just a single book out, because as you say, it’s free! So why not? 😀

    That said, for me there’s definitely a different thrill between borrowing books from the library and buying books. I think the difference is that when I buy books, I know that they’re mine and I can read them any time I want (not just within a 3 week window). I’ve been doing really good lately, but I’m definitely more addicted to book buying than book borrowing… The way that I support the habit is two-fold: 1) limiting trips to the bookstore; 2) only visiting the used bookstore!

  11. I buy the majority of books I read, which is as you say an expensive habit, but I don’t identify with the language of addiction about it. I go for months without buying books, and never own more than a year’s worth of unread books at any given time. I pass bookstores all the time without buying anything. At times when I’m under strict financial restraints I don’t buy books in the regular course of things for months and months, but I tend to ask for money for birthdays and Christmas and save up any used books I don’t need to keep anymore. Then my family, partner & I do a big trip to Powell’s on my birthday, trade in our used books, and spend 2-3 hours roaming the shelves. I usually come back with months’ worth of reading, and it doesn’t break the bank because the money/trade was donated for the special occasion. For me it feels overwhelming to have more than a certain number of books on my physical to-be-read shelf, so I’m glad I don’t feel “addicted” or “compelled” to buy more books than I’ll reasonably read.

  12. I have actually worked really hard to curb my library addiction these last few months. And while I bought a bunch of books right after Christmas – many of them with gift cards – mostly my acquisition is coming from bookmooch or paperback swap these days. I have so many books on my shelf now that there’s hardly anymore that I want right now and it’s gotten easy to go to the library and not pick something up. That used to be impossible.

  13. I feel the exact same way! There are not many times that I will walk into a library without checking something out…it feels unnatural to do so.

    I don’t like always buying books. I don’t have the money to do so, plus where would I put them all? And really, how many times are you really going to go back to that book? Better to recycle it. I love a book that I know has been read by others…adds authenticity to it.

  14. I’m addicted to owning the Borders Classics series, but I usually get then through PaperBackSwap. I actually don’t like buying books because they are so expensive, and I feel wasteful when I do. I think the idea of “saving” unwanted books from the rubbish heap or collecting dusk on a bookshelf. As for the library, I used it a lot when I lived close by to it. Now that I’m in college, getting the library (heck, getting a library card) requires jumping through a lot of hurdles. I use the library on campus but not for pleasure reading.

  15. Though I’m a student, I find that it can be pretty easy to fund a book-buying addiction sometimes. I live in a fairly huge city, so there are plenty of thirft stores and libraries around. Most books are under $1. Depending on where you go, you may come out with no books or with 20. It just depends. I try not to buy books often though I do go on a small book splurge about three times a year. I often only buy books that I’ve already read or that my library doesn’t have.

    I love checking out books from the library. There’s so much information I want to know and so many great books to read to find it all. I’m going on a book-buying ban next month that includes not checking out books from the library. I want to read more of what’s already on my shelves.

  16. I love both the library and buying books, but it seems like the majority of books I read are ones I already own. Our local branch has an excellent (both selection and price-wise) used book sale shelf and I almost always come home with books I’ve bought from there, along with the library books I borrow.

    One bad thing about my library is that the maximum time a I can keep a book is relatively short, especially if it’s on hold by someone else– so all too often I end up returning books unread.

    My husband has his golfing hobby. My hobby is buying and reading books. That’s one way of justifying the books I buy (which rarely are at full-price, anyway). 🙂

  17. I’ve had to start avoiding the library because I can’t seem to leave with just one book, and I have way too many unread books in the house, thanks to my addiction to book-swapping sites. Every library book I check out is keeping me from reading something on my shelf so I have to curb the library impluse unless there’s something I really need. For some reason, I don’t have that problem in bookstores. I usually go with something in mind and leave with that thing.

    And I am so excited that you added Silence to your list. That is one of my favorites. I’ve been wanting to reread it partly so I can post about its amazingness. It changed my thinking in so many ways.

  18. A BIG YES for library addiction! I can’t help it. I check out books all the time even though I know I may never finish them in time. It find it quite satisfying to have the books I want to read lying around the house even though they’re library books. I often return them unread, but it’s okay because I can borrow them again next time. It’s crazy, I know! 😛 I don’t buy books often too because they’re pricey and I really don’t have enough shelves at home. They’re already overflowing with books. I have books on the floor and on top of each other.

    ps: Oh I really want to read Half the Sky!

  19. Yes, I am rather addicted to buying books. As to the fundage for such an addiction, I quote Erasmus: “When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.”

    Seriously, though, I do hit up the used bookstores and this new bookstore in town that has overstock books from $4-6 each.

  20. I think I may have developed an addiction to buying books over the last couple years. Certainly I do it an awful lot! I don’t buy many books at full price, though — I get them from used bookstores, library sales, and on Book Mooch. I haven’t used the library much because I like the idea of owning what I’ve read, or at least owning books I might want to return to one day.

  21. Nice piece and Comments. I grew up frequenting libraries. I learned a lot and it kept me out of trouble! Plus it was great exercise carrying an armload of books the 5 blocks to my home. My wife and I passed this along to our children, and my oldest grandchild loves to go with us, too.
    I sometimes wonder if my adult interest in reading disabilities stems from these experiences. I currently spend much more time writing about reading than actually engaging in it (for pleasure!). But it is rewarding to provide information and support to children who struggle with reading and their families. And sometimes I am pleasantly surprised with public acknowledgements of my work. Just today, Ann Logsdon reviewed my recent book in her Blog. Check it out if you have interest and/or need:

  22. Hmmm. Apparently, I’m not alone here! 😀

    Stephanie, I ALWAYS check out too many books. Breaks my heart to return them unread.

    Amateur Reader, I have a great library too — part of a consortium of about 15 libraries, so I can get essentially anything!

    Michelle, I’m always putting lots of books on hold from home because it’s so easy to do!!

    Suzanne,That’s my thought when I start getting this itching to have a new book. It’s bibliotherapy.

    Tokemise, blogging has increased the time I spend making lists too! And I’m with you on the budget thing!

    Lindsey, you’re reserve process sounds very familiar :0. I’m addicted to that too.

    Stefanie, I really need to find a good second hand bookstore. Ok, no I don’t….

    Jackie, I struggle to leave the library without a book. I have to limit my visits because i could go every single day and be so happy!

    Amy, …and I am so jealous of people with enough money to buy books full price and new! It really is possible to plan ahead and not buy books, although it was a struggle the first few months with the new budget last year. Just sayin’.

    Steph, I find I rarely get to the books in a timely fashion I buy so they’re just sitting around in piles (I don’t have enough bookshelves) so I don’t get a huge thrill. Some exceptions of course. I loved my Christmas shopping with gift card! No guilt and I have nice new books to show for it!

    Emily, very wise. I can understand that because I don’t feel compelled to buy books, although I’d love to. I have a hard time limiting library use since it’s free though…hence the addiction. (and although I’ve never been addicted to anything else, I do think the library feels like a compulsion! kind of scary…)

    Amanda, I have a hard time limiting library use but I should since, like you, I have tons of books around my house that are unread. I just don’t want to read them *now*.

    Tracie Yule, I can relate to your sentiments!

    Christina, Sadly, I didn’t read much for pleasure during college. How tragic! I hope you still find time to do so.

    Kathy, like I ask, I wonder how it’s affordable, but I guess we all find a way when it’s an addiction!

    Vasilly, wow, books for $1! I want to go to that thrift shop/sale!

    Valerie, I guess this is a lesson to me: I should read what I own more often! At my library, I get a very long time with my books and rarely is there a hold on it. So I feel very blessed.

    Emily, Inventing English is so far so good!

    Suzanne, I saw that. Very apt.

    Teresa, Silence is the May 10 group read for the JLit club! I’ll probably wait until then to read it. Info here:

    mee, I stayed up late last night with HALF THE SKY…

    A Bookshelf Monstrosity, love the Erasmus quote!

    Dorothy W, For some reason, I rarely go back to the books I own. Some exceptions of course, but then I feel guilty because I only read it once and it cost so much.

    Gary Brannigan, I grew up frequenting libraries too! Sounds like you have found your niche. I don’t really have an interest in learning disabilities now but maybe I’ll need to in the future!

  23. Libraries are great places to spend time, and they have become better integrated into the community. Groups hold meetings there, there are clubs for all ages, authors speak, and many programs are available, especially for children. Plus the staff members help to instill a love of books in kids!

  24. Yes I’m addicted to checking out library books. Even though I have TONS of books to read at home, I need to check something out. This poses a problem when I visited a library in another city (which I don’t live in and so don’t have a library card!)

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