Sunday, January 13, 2013


addiction - noun
The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming.

This is me coming out as an addict. I'm sorry you have to find out this way. If anyone in my family reads this, and particularly my parents, please forgive me for the harm this has caused. The abnormally heavy boxes when you've helped me move, the lack of space for guests to sleep on, the news of entire collections of books, a complete bargain, of course, directly followed  by a month without money. I am sorry. I am, in all honesty, an addict.

I arrived in England, to my tiny box of a room, with eight books. 4 of them about English grammar and language, four novels. I later also had a few more books shipped over, two about linguistics and one more novel, so all in all 11 books in my room I've had since before September (except, that's not really true, because I bought two of the books right before I left, as a goodbye present to my self, which I later understood was a bit stupid, because I was the one who was leaving, but still... they were bought before England). Right now, the honest and absolute number of books I own on this side of the pond is, counted to include kindle (digital) books, but not audio books, novels, anthologies, short stories, cook books, grammar books, books I got for free, books I got as a present and books I've bought is: 103. At least it was. A couple of hours ago.

I counted them this morning, and the number stressed me out. Okay, so a few of them were handed to me by strangers on the street (the book of Mormon, Bin Raiders, something about chanting your way to happiness), some I got as a present (Roskilde, the 20th Century in Poetry, the Student's Cookbook), some are absolutely essential to my studies (about 40 novels, the Philosophy of Language, the Norton Anthology of English literature) but the rest... they are just books.

There's the collection of essays by Oscar Wild I really wanted, and justified by seeing it as a good extra source for the Utopian/Dystopian Literature module I was reading for (never mind the fact that it was 12 hours before deadline on the last assignment).
Right next to me I have a book about translation studies, which had a funny title, and seemed relevant to my studies... at home that is. Not here. But I thought: "Oh well, I'll be going home in a few months," and I bought it anyway.

I've got the complete collection of Sookie Stackhouse novels. Novels I never thought I'd read, and I've heard little good about them. But the boxed set was marked down from 79.99 to 9.99 you see, and I was really tired, and I wanted a quick read, something to keep me entertained. So I bought them. There's the two children's novels I bought at a talk with the author. They're signed, and have a little drawing in them from the author to me. A few classics I've always wanted to read, but never had time to have sneaked into the collection ( I still haven't read them). A book named 'weird things customers say in bookshops' kept me laughing for hours. There's the book I bought as a present I never dared give. And there's the book I bought for my husband, that I've been intending to send him, but never remember to.

There's a book about words that are no longer in use. There's a book about words that should be used more often. There's a book about Shakespeare. A book about peace. And I've bought them all because I wanted them, and couldn't let them be. I tried, with a few. But I pictured them there on the shelves, never being bought, or even worse, bought by someone who didn't appreciate them for what they were, and let them dust down on a shelf. I bought them to feel better. To calm down, to make myself happy. But no reason takes a way from the fact: I filled my room with 103 books in just a few months.

I'll be the first to admit I've spent quite a bit of money on this, but less than one would think. Although a few of the books have been very expensive, many, probably most, have been three pounds a piece or less, and quite a few have been free. The money is not the biggest issue, though. I've bought practically nothing else but books since I got here. The issue is the stupidity of it. I haven't had time to read half of them, I will have read about 60 of them by the end of this semester, because they've been part of my degree or books I've read in between, but the remaining ones have just cost me money, cost me time, taken up place, and will take even more money and place to get home to Norway. It's just so stupid.

So I realized I am addicted. A realization that made me stressed. I was unhappy, and I was scared of this addiction and what it would mean for me in the future. Will I need a house with extra bedrooms just for my books? Will I be forced to stop buying books until I've read the ones I've got?

I went for a walk with a friend. An aimless walk. A calm-down-now one. And like a bright beam of sunshine through dark, dense clouds, a book store appeared. After a quick browsing, a quick exchange of money,  we found another. I feel much better now.

What is the difference, really, between 103 and 106?