Adventures of a Biblioholic By Josephine Anna Kaszuba Locke, April, 2004
'When you sell a man a book, you don't sell him 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue -- you sell him a whole new life.' (Christopher Morley)
I proudly admit it, I'm a biblioholic. And once a person becomes hooked on reading, a metamorphosis occurs -- a passion for books, a new way of life, a unique adventure. My own love of reading came silently. As a child, my Tata Czeslaw could read but Mama Kamylla could not -- and in that quiet solitude, an unspoken message was born about the value of the written word. I have reveled in reading since I first deciphered letters on a page, and I have been lucky enough to live in New York in my formative years as a biblioholic (the slogan 'New York Is Book Country', used to promote the Annual Book Fair on 5th Avenue, is not a myth). Not sure whether or not you're a biblioholic yet? Read on ...
Though there are many forms that a passion for books can take, there are definite signs of biblioholism. A strong indication is that we absorb the printed word anywhere and everywhere. You will never see us sans reading material in one form or another, whether a piece of fiction, a magazine, a newspaper or a cereal box (we have even been known to read dictionaries when desperate!) You'll see us in total concentration waiting for a flight at the airport, standing on a subway platform, lined up in a store, sitting in a doctor's office, waiting for a ball game to begin or a movie to start (usually muttering about the dim light), or catching a few paragraphs during TV commercial breaks. But our favorite times are reading to a child, curled up on the sofa on a rainy afternoon, or sitting on a park bench on a sunny day, a favorite author's book in hand. We find endless opportunities in the race to satiate ourselves with one book in order to journey on to the next ... and the next ...
Your average booklover may stick to one genre, but biblioholics read widely. We acquire long lists of preferred authors, and are ecstatic to discover a powerful new writer to add to must read lists. We get on a roll, collecting everything written by favorites. This takes dedication and the fortitude needed to go back and search out earlier writings. It can involve a lot of walking and the hunt can last for years. I speak from experience, having regularly covered both the East and West Side of Manhattan NYC in search of specialty shops. There were new book stores and used book stores. They ranged from large, bright facilities to those that were cramped, dark and dusty (these have their own appeal, don't they?) I often stumbled on discarded boxes of books and saved them from destruction, including many scrounged from disposal areas in my own apartment building. At one point my spouse suggested that perhaps we should rent a second apartment just for books - isn't that a grand idea?
Biblioholics visit book fairs, yard sales, and street fairs. We stop at the tables of street vendors whose tomes shout buy me. We're regulars at the local library. We find it almost impossible to pass an assortment of books without at least a glance, even though we have hundreds at home already, many still unread (anxiety about a depleted pile of unread books is another key symptom of biblioholism). Though we find it hard to part with our literary treasures, sometimes the old must make way for the new, and we staunchly face the trauma. Biblioholics only give books to good homes. Donation to libraries, churches, nursing homes, the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and similar organizations is a common biblioholic gesture. And when books are old and tattered and near their end, a respectful disposal is important to us. We dread hearing about people throwing books into the garbage for their final journey to a waste disposal site - even the thought brings tears to my eyes.
However books have been acquired, the biblioholic is always in a state of glory over new arrivals. We love to have them overflowing from our shelves and, yes, from suitcases, boxes, nooks and crannies, fallen around the bed ... puddles of tomes here and there about the house. Messy? Yes indeed. But that is the plight of a biblioholic whose addiction demands books, books, and ever more books. It is my belief and hope for my legacy of books that years from now some of my favorites will be lined up on my granddaughters' and grandsons' shelves, with the same care and love of reading that their Babcia and Grandpa enjoyed. And I wish for each grandchild passing into adulthood that they realize the rich life, and all the adventures of biblioholism. Note: Authors pictured above are (in order) James Patterson, Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Miloscz, Dr. Andrew Weil, Isaac Hayes, and Caleb Carr.
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.