Fine, I admit it. I’m a crazed bookaholic. I suppose I could call myself a bibliophile which sounds so much more intelligent and respectable and while I’m technically a bibliophile, I’m really, deep down, a bookaholic. And yes, like all “aholics,” I do have an uncontrollable dependency—on books.
I rely on books to introduce to me to someone, whether real or imagined, who experiences life as I do so that I can sing out, “Hey, soul sister!” and mean it. I read books to get to know someone who has experienced life as I can’t or never will so that my small, narrow world stretches and softens for having known them. And what about the characters who inspire me or enrage me? Whoever says passion can’t be ignited by words alone hasn’t read Chocolat or The Color Purple or anything by Isabel Allende.
Well-told stories and memorable characters reach out from the pages and pluck my heart right out. I like to think I’ve got my act together, that I can keep my emotions under lock and key, and then some randomly chosen story knocks me to my knees. And I’m forced to admit that my life is a constant work-in-progress and my emotions, instead of fragile irritants to be controlled, are the beautiful wonders that keep me feeling alive. This same experience, this unfolding of the tucked-in life, happens with nonfiction too, especially memoirs. As it turns out, I’m not the first person to feel confused, challenged, restricted or grieved. What I might not be able to talk about in public, someone has written about in private, and yet with a certain fearlessness, chose to share. And I am forever grateful.
As Pete Hamill admits in talking about his vast library of books, “If I had not picked up this habit in the library long ago, I would have more money in the bank today; I would not be richer.”