Friday, June 28, 2013

Someday, I Will Die Under a Pile of Books and Cats

I am an unashamed book hoarder and crazy cat lady. First, the obligatory picture of my cats:


I would like to have more cats, but the current household policy is no more cats than bedrooms, and I'm pressing my luck by claiming the couch as a third bedroom. Thankfully though, this policy does not hold for books. I have a lot of them, and I can't seem to stop accumulating more. Sometimes, I think they reproduce on their own. I'm pretty sure that my Narnia books had a baby with my anthology of Greek tragedies while I was at work one day and popped out The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

This is the face I made while reading The Magicians. It's one of my favorite books of all time.

One would think that since I work for a library, I wouldn't have this book hoarding problem. I mean, I have nearly the entire scope of literature at my fingertips - all I have to do is click a mouse a few times to make books magically appear. But, no. The big problem with the library system is that I eventually have to give the books back. I remember being a kid and checking books out all the time and dreading the day when they were due back at the library. Certain characters were like family to me. I wanted to be able to visit them any time I wanted and not worry that they'd be hanging out with someone else. I vowed to myself that when I had my own money, I would buy books and never ever give them back.

Me after returning books.
And so, the long, dark spiral of book hoarding began. When the internet became a thing, I searched long and hard for all the books I loved so much when I was younger and bought the hell out of them. I haven't read Clare Bell's Ratha books in decades, but I own them now and feel like I've reclaimed a little piece of my life.

Perhaps the worst part of this need for books, is my obsession with books I have not yet read. When I was a kid, I was terrified that I would run out of books to read. I had this insane fear that one day, no one would ever write another fantasy book ever again and I would be stuck reading the handful that I had over and over again until I died. Seriously, what was wrong with me? The idea is laughable now and I have the opposite fear - that I will never read all of the books I want to read before I die, even if I live to be 150. Put both of those fears together, and we have my need to own every book I come across that I find interesting. Assisting with collection development at my library is a very dangerous thing.

This publication is going to kill me.
I think I might rather starve than stop buying books. The bills and rent get paid, the cats get medicine and food. But do I really have to eat? Do I really need a haircut? How long can I drive around without an oil change? These are the questions that run around my brain every payday. I love used book stores and library book sales best, but I'll pay full price if I have to. I just want that book in my hot little hands. And books that get weeded from my library? Oh jeebus... it would be a shame if they didn't go to a good home...

I write this post shortly before I head off to ALA in Chicago, where I know I will get tons of free books and book related swag. I have a spreadsheet and galley guide ready, in addition to a suitcase with wheels. So, how about you? What are your book purchase and borrowing habits?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On Rereading

Maybe I do sing to and about my books. Shut up. I'm awesome.
Apologies again for my sporadic posting habits. What is this "life" thing, and why does it always interfere with my reading?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the merits of rereading a book. I haven't been doing too much rereading lately, mostly because I'm trying to cram as much new stuff into my brain so I have books to recommend when folks come into the library asking for newer YA titles. Many of the teens I know have already out-read me in regard to new titles, so I'm consistently running this imaginary book race that I'm always losing. But sometimes, I feel nostalgic for books I've already read. Books, to me, are like memories. We know how our memories will play out but sometimes we just like to bask in the experience.

This is me, running the book race and losing.
 In the last couple of weeks, I've reread two titles - the first, Conspiracies by F. Paul Wilson, and the second, The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Both rereads were like revisiting old friends and I enjoyed each book more with a second reading.

I read Conspiracies last year when I went on a Repairman Jack binge. For five straight months, I read nothing but Repairman Jack and the Adversary Cycle. Conspiracies is one of my favorite books in the series and my sci-fi and fantasy book club is reading it for our July pick. This is the third book in the Repairman Jack series, but this is where the story really starts. Jack is hired to find a missing woman who claims he's the only one who can find her. He ends up attending a convention of conspiracy theorists and tangling with dark supernatural forces. I enjoyed reading this book while knowing how the series ends. There's a certain joy in going back and analyzing a characters actions and reactions after knowing the outcome, and spending some time with them before the ravages of fate or fortune. Even though I knew everything that was going to happen, I couldn't put the book down.

Rereading The Year of the Flood was extra awesome. Oryx and Crake, set in the same universe, is one of my favorite books of all time. I love highly plausible end of the world scenarios. I had tried to get my husband to read Oryx and Crake, but he couldn't get into it because of how weird Jimmy/Snowman was. But I really thought that if he could just get past the initial weirdness (and frankly, the creep-tastic weirdness is what I love about the book), he'd love the book as much as I did. On a whim, I picked up The Year of the Flood on CD, so we could listen to it on our road-trip to upstate New York last week. The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake are companion books as opposed to first and second in a series, so order doesn't matter when choosing which one to read first. My husband loved it and is now ready for Oryx and Crake. I don't usually like listening to books but this was so much fun, first because I was revisiting a world I loved, and second because I was seeing it with new eyes through my husband. I had so much fun listening to The Year of the Flood that I'm now rereading Oryx and Crake for the fourth time. I'm also having internal fits waiting for MaddAddam to come out this September.

While I'm continuing to read new books like The Last Policeman by Ben Winters and The Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell, I am very much enjoying this little vacation into already familiar worlds.