Friday, August 20, 2004

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Hi, my name is Dan....

Will Baude has an amusing post up about addiction over at Crescat Sententia. The good part:

I remember being struck that if you took the various signs of "alcoholism" and replaced books and reading as appropriate, nearly all of them applied to me:

Are books a necessary part of your daily routine? Check. Do you become grumpy and irritable if your books are taken away from you? Check. If you begin reading, just a little bit, do you find it hard to stop? Check. Do you find yourself growing distant from friends who disapprove of your book habit? Big check. Do you find yourself needing more and more books to get the same "fix"? Check. When you meet a new person or enter a new room, do you instantly size up his bookshelf? Check. Does your book habit sometimes get in the way of leading a "normal" life? Check. (Think of the countless social engagements I have declined because I preferred to finish an addictive read.) Do you buy books to make yourself feel better when sad or lonely? Check.

If you'll all excuse me, I think I have to go to the Seminary Co-op for a little bit. As I'm there, I'll keep Phoebe Maltz's words of wisdom in mind:

At least at Chicago, if not in some larger segments of the world, a person who reads books all the time is considered admirable, even if all that is gained by this reading is that the reader is entertained.

posted by Dan on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM


I recommend some self-help books.

posted by: George on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

Chicago could also be sort of a detox center for those with an addiction to upscale shopping.

posted by: Phoebe Maltz on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

The addiction is even worse if it involves rare books. Think of the rush that you would get when you acquired the rare 17th Century volume (although, for me, I have gotten more from copies of manuscripts from archives than I have from books).

In my case, my addiction takes me off into the head-high weeds, as I am interested in 17th Century Dutch naval history (in Dutch).


Jim Bender

posted by: Jim Bender on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

Hi. My name is Chuck. Is there a workable 12-step program that doesn't leave you with a worse addiction (like work)? I think I can check all of those except missing meetings. It's been hard, but I've made all of them within a few minutes of the scheduled time.

posted by: chuck rightmire on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

I feel the potential for a support group. Where should we meet--at the Seminary Co-Op, at 57th Street Books, or at Powell's?

posted by: Maureen on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

this year marks 30 years since I first stepped into Regenstein library and decided U of C was the the place to go. Bookaholic? Let's just say I spend *much* more a week at my local Border's than for the groceries of my family of 5.

Thanks, Dan, for bringing back to me of a Great bookseller. No longer in Chicago, I 'd let that fact allow the Co-op to slip from mind. Duh, of course they're on the Internet...

posted by: Jon on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

Oh dear, that's me to a T. I don't understand people who don't like to read, and by that I mean read A LOT. How do they live? I asked one woman at work what she liked to do for fun. "I like to clean." (!)

posted by: Margot on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

addiction is a disease and a disease is systemic, progressive, and fatal. More books please.

posted by: byubil on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

I sent this post on to a friend who's been 22 years dry in AA. Here's his response:

"Hmmmmmm. You may be on to something. Perhaps there's a Twelve Step program somewhere for your obsession! Or you could start one...

You need to expand your criteria, however. Do you steal from your children's piggy banks to buy books? Have you lost literally dozens of friends who died as a direct result of over-reading? Have you accumulated a number of arrests for DWR (Driving while Reading) and lost your driver's license? Has your doctor told you to either stop reading or die? Do you buy your books at different stores so the clerks won't say, "You back again?"? Do you hide books in the garage and tell Irene you're going to get something there, in order to sneak a chapter? Have you ever been threatened with end-stage cirrosis of the eyes?

If so, let's talk! Maybe you ought to get a sponsor in RA (Readers
Anonymous) that you can call in the middle of the night when you get the urge to read. And remember: once you read one sentence, even this one, you'll be driven to read more and more until your eyes give out!

Nah, there's nothing wrong with a little social reading, and even an occasional binge. Just look for the classic sign of addiction: are you lying about your reading?"

Maybe this sheds some light on this post.

posted by: Ted Lehmann on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

One could just as easily take the signs of "alcoholism" and replace with "blogging." But, then, you already knew that.

posted by: Sissy Willis on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

When you go into someone else's residence, do you find yourself looking for comfortable places to read? If there's not a well-lit comfy chair, do you find yourself unimpressed with the residence, even if you leave pretty well-lit yourself?

posted by: James Withrow on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

For another symptom, how about getting mad at friends who return books with any signs of wear and tear, and then having those friends fear to borrow books from you anymore. This symptom shows falls into the "damages personal relationships" category of addiction. I guess the next step in the downward spiral is that you just don't loan out your books anymore.

posted by: David on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

Who is more blessed?

Someone who has read a great book and
already knows the whole story? -or-

Someone who has yet to read the great
book and has all that enjoyment ahead?

posted by: pragmatist on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

You are so much better looking in person....I think you need a new photo

posted by: Kate on 08.20.04 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

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