Lead Us Not Into Temptation

My name is Nathan Albright, and I am a book addict. If they had a “Bibliophiles Anonymous” organization the same way that one has alcoholics anonymous, for example, that would be how I would have to begin my statement every day. My love of books ought not to be a surprise to anyone [1], as the results of that love of books are visible and readily evident to anyone who knows me even remotely well. Those who read this blog or look at my Facebook page, for example, will see book review after book review after book review, almost always posted very soon after a book is finished. Those who see me at work spending my break hours reading book after book after book have noticed that addiction as well as those who have seen me camp somewhere in a quiet place where I want to avoid any disturbance other than the refilling of tea and the occasional adding of more packets of sugar to sweeten it with. Like the languor of the poet at a 19th century opium den, or the way that a drunk lingers at the bar, so too a book lover lingers long over that which is not always satisfactory.

Of course, the love of books is fortunately (for me at least) considered to be less of a social evil than the addiction to alcohol or illicit substances. As heavy a burden as it may be to lug one’s own private library from place to place [2], it is a heavy burden that is often viewed with a bit of symapthy (as well as questions as to why one has not yet gotten an e-reader), rather than a heavy burden that tends to involve the heavy weight of shame. While I certainly cut a strange figure bringing two overflowing backpacks full of books with me when I moved to Portland, or schlepping them in boxes or some other container in my rather anonymous gray sedan while I have moved from place to place within the Portland area, the fact that I have an obvious zeal for tearing through books like I tear through roasted chicken and glasses of sweet tea is not something that has tended to attract hostility or tongue wagging. If only all of my interests could be so socially accepted.

Yet there are temptations even with such a socially accepted addiction (my love of books is of such duration and intensity that it can only be considered the sign of an addictive personality of some kind that has some major boundary issues, including the weight limits that shock absorbers can handle while driving around town). A few stories stand in mind as signs of the dangers of my love of books for myself and others. When I was a teenager, I brought so many tubs of books along with me to the Feast of Tabernacles in Branson that the resulting overpacking may have greatly shortened the life of the car, which died when it arrived at our condo after having wheezed its way through the mountains of Northern Arkansas on the way there. At another Feast of Tabernacles, I walked into a Barnes & Noble near the festival hall in Escondido, California and while only looking at the bargain bin, walked out in less than fifteen minutes having spent almost $100 in books and related items for myself and others. Clearly, that kind of love of books can be a matter of considerable trouble of a more serious nature than “where am I going to put all of these books?”

With that in mind, today I went to downtown Powell’s Book Store in Portland for the second time [3] (I had previously, of course, visited their Cedar Hills location as well [4]). Unlike the previous two times, where I resolved not to buy anything at all, which made the trip rather short, this particular time I set myself a modest price limit and had some books in mind as well as some subject material in mind. As it happened, I managed to hit about my modest target despite the fact that the person I went with was a bit of a bad influence as far as books were concerned. I picked up a copy of the Vorkosigan companion to add some critical essays about that universe to my library for future blog posts, a humorous travelogue about Jane Austen in Latin America, a magisterial book on the founding of the American Republic, and a book on the rise of Great Britain’s navy for my naval history collection. It was, in short, a reasonably diverse set of books that straddled my love of literature and history. It is sometimes a far greater difficulty to enjoy a little bit of something in its proper proportions and boundaries than to forswear it altogether, more challenging to set a limit than to avoid something completely. Yet like other pleasures in life, books are a good pleasure in moderation, making it all the more worthwhile to find that happy state, even if it requires a significant amount of restraint.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/category/book-reviews/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/a-little-princess-revisited/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/the-accidental-traveling-librarian-or-the-material-culture-of-nomads/

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/exploring-pdx-part-one/

[4] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/a-test-of-willpower/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Lead Us Not Into Temptation

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