Alphabooks: W is for Worst

W: Worst Bookish Habit

Photographing my bookshelves reminded me just how many books I have: between four and five hundred, perhaps half of them unread.  Dozens have been dragged back and forth between my parents’ home and my college, and then to my Ann Arbor apartment, and then to the house I live in now.  They’ll all be boxed up and moved again in a couple months.

So it’s a bad habit that I often neglect the books I own (“They’re mine!  I have all the time in the world to read them!”) in favor of library books (“Oooh!  I don’t have to buy this but I can absorb all its stories and characters and ideas before returning it!”), though perhaps that’s preferable to buying even more books and then being stymied by indecision whenever I regard my shelves.

But I have a worse habit yet, which is checking out about 3 dozen books and a dozen CDs from the library and then ignoring them, too.  They wait week after week on the bookshelf I purchased specifically for borrowed books.  Eventually, the library e-mails me a notice that someone else has requested this or that item and I can no longer renew it.  So then the book is in demand.  Then I start to read it.  Then I find that I have wasted the time I might have spent with it, and either keep it until it’s two weeks overdue, or return it unfinished and pine after it.

Dreadful business.

But I have a worse habit yet, which is clicking around on Archive of Our Own and reading fanfiction incessantly.  It’s like overeating because your body never tells you it’s full.  It’s like voluntary insomnia.  It’s like opium.  I click and click and am not satisfied with clicking until it’s 1 AM and I am going to regret getting up for work in the morning.  That’s the worst habit of all.

Do you have any bad book habits?

9 thoughts on “Alphabooks: W is for Worst

  1. I share most of your bad habits, it seems, though I have managed to avoid fanfiction, for the most part. In its place, I am a slave to tvtropes.org and random internet research on whatever happens to interest me at the moment…

      • It’s rather like a black hole… you think you’re escaping its gravity, and then it pulls you right back in. I think I’ve found a steady orbit, for now, but who knows?

  2. I too neglect the books I own in favor of library books. I keep telling myself that as soon as I work my way through *this* batch of library items, then I will start on MY unread books. Alas…I never follow through. Invariably, I start a series that I have to finish, or a book pops up that I check out because it’s so short that it doesn’t really count, or maybe it’s one that I’ve been wanting to read for a while and it’s now finally available, or it’s for some other reason. When it comes to books I have just accepted the fact that I am and always will be terribly undisciplined.

    • Back in 2013, I meant to read 1 book every week that I’d never read before – particularly those I’d bought blindly, because they had a pretty binding or otherwise caught my eye.

      I made it through….3 weeks? If that. Siiiigh. I’m getting a tiny bit better with library catchup of late, though!

  3. Pingback: Alphabetical Promptings | Egotist's Club

  4. My bad habit is my compulsion to buy books that I already own (sometimes in multiple copies already!!) just because I love them. I want them all to have loving homes where their glorious word-treasures will be fully appreciated. However, I usually manage to remind myself that buying books so they can sit unread on my shelves because I already have a copy is not really a fulfillment of a book’s telos, now, is it? Though I allow myself to buy additional copies if it’s a beautiful hardcover or a first edition of a favorite that I only have in–gasp–paperback or something.

    As for fanfic, I might be worse, since I accidentally started writing some, after a good ten years of abstinence. Le sigh.

    • Oh man. I had contemplated making my *own* set of Book Discussion Prompts, one of them “Do you have multiple copies of any book? Why?” so I could explain my multiple LotR + Silmarillion (obvs. one is the pretty red leather / hardback with jacket) and Bros. K and so on. But yes, as you say, sitting unread goes against The Telos.

      re: fanfic: Ten years of abstinence! Well done, you. I think I managed …6? 7? years HP-fic-free before 2012 came and I plunged HEADLONG into the Sherlock fandom. So bad I even got fic ideas, although none of them have quite coalesced into proper stories. Sighs.

      • I was contemplating my book habits today actually, because I was at an estate sale and there was a set of the original American paperbacks of the LotR trilogy, like the ones my dad had in his college days (I restrained myself this time). Also, the previous owner must have had the same problem as me, because there were two identical copies of Fellowship of the Ring. But I did pick up a Riverside copy of Tristram Shandy and a paperback Screwtape Letters, neither of which I own, so it was still a success.

        Yeah, well, my current fanfic problem is the result of my inability to deal with character deaths (or rather, dealing with them by staunch denial). I went looking for a fic to salve my broken heart after watching The Battle of the Five Armies, and when I couldn’t find exactly the one I wanted, I realized the only answer was to write my own. *shame*

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