Friday, July 18, 2008

My Name is Tracy, and I Have a Book-Buying Disease

(cross-posted at

I’m starting to think that my Book-Buying Disease is getting serious. My husband and I are in the process of trying to sell our house in a truly awful market, and the first thing our realtor said when he walked through the place was, "Books. You have to get rid of all these books."

I nearly fired him on the spot.

But then, I realized, he was just trying to help. The cleaner and more clutter-free your house is, the better its chances of impressing a potential buyer. But my books? They are not clutter. They’re … they’re … MINE. Sure, I have at least two full shelves-worth of books that I’ve purchased in the past and haven’t gotten to—cast-offs from garage sales and library book sales, bookstore bargain bins and, yes, books that I’ve gotten full price. Books friends have given me, and one guilty loaner that I have yet to return. (No, I’m really not one of THOSE people. I’ve tried several times to return it—the owner and I just can’t seem to get our acts together to meet up for a hand-off. I swear!)

I find a geeky comfort in sitting among my shelves, trying to decide which one to read next. My favorite part about moving (and we’ve done that a lot—my husband just retired after 20 years as a Naval officer) is getting to re-alphabetize my books. I once got a job at Barnes & Noble, even though the manager had to work around my rather labyrinthine grad school and tutoring schedule, simply by chirping, "But I LOVE shelving books!" with way more geekalicious enthusiasm than was probably necessary.

So anyway, I did pack up the vast majority of my books, which are sitting in the garage, boxed up in sad little stacks. Sometimes, they call to me when I am sleeping. But my husband and my realtor tell me that if I want to sell the house, I have to ignore their cries.

The bookshelf they were on was so old, it literally spat shelves on top of me and then fell over in an exhausted heap as soon as I’d removed the last book from it. I had to throw it out, but I still have two beautiful, handmade oak bookshelves in my family room, which I left standing with my realtor’s blessing, showcasing some of my prettier hardcovers and paperbacks.

And I allowed myself to keep ten unsightly paperbacks, a manageable To-Be-Read pile that fit neatly underneath my bed. I decided I would finally read those ten books that I’d been meaning to get to—including improve-your-mind classics like Dickens’ Great Expectations, Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo, and the newly annotated version of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Plus, there were a couple of Intrigues in there, some longer mainstream and romantic suspense, and two women’s fiction titles: Ann Brashares’ The Last Summer of You and Me, and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Make Him Look Good.

I read P&P in all its annotated glory (fun!), finished Count of Monte Cristo (way fun!), and flew through the Intrigues (you know how much I love those). And then, the siren-call of Barnes & Noble proved to be too much.

From my neat, compact pile of ten, I have added so many to that TBR pile that I now have enough books, purchased or found since November, to fit into a giant plastic bin next to my bed. Which I KNOW would make that vein in my realtor’s temple twitch in disapproval like an electrified banshee. There are no dust bunnies underneath my bed, because there are now so many books smashed into that small space, they crowded the dust bunnies out. (The Great Dust Bunny Diaspora of 2008 apparently led them all into those narrow spaces between my refrigerator and the kitchen cabinetry.)

And yet, I just went to a couple bookstores last week as a stress-relieving outing. I meant to just browse the shelves and perhaps pick up a magazine, but good intentions aside, I ended up adding the following to the TBR avalanche:

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer: Two adult friends have been after me to read this book forEVER. What has these two otherwise level-headed women to go completely off their heads over a teenaged vampire, I don’t know. But I want to see what all the hype is about.

The Broken Window, by Jeffrey Deaver: Deaver is my hero. Best. Suspense. Author. EVAH. His plot twists are THE most amazing and unexpected in the mainstream suspense field, IMHO, and he was doing CSI stuff before CSI came on TV and made it cool. Deaver’s an autobuy for me, so, you understand, I HAD to get his latest. I’m halfway through it, and it’s A. May. Zing. Totally worth full-price (after my B&N discount, of course).

PS I Love You, by Cecilia Ahern: This one I actually traded for at my local used bookstore. (Sorry, Cecilia! But don’t worry—if I like it, I’ll buy the next one new. Why? Because that’s the way my disease works.) I just watched the movie and liked it so much, I wanted to read the book. Which so far is quite different from the film! For one thing, Holly is Irish, not an American married to an Irishman she met on vacation. The differences are very interesting.

Hood, by Stephen Lawhead: Does anyone remember that short-lived BBC series Robin of Sherwood, which aired on Showtime back in the 80s? I ADORED that series (which was FINALLY released on region 1 DVD last year), which marked the first time I fell in love with the Robin Hood legend. Someone gave Lawhead’s retelling of the legend and it’s sequel, Scarlet, GORGEOUS covers that drew me in like mosquitoes to a bug-zapper. I read the back, skimmed the first couple of pages, checked out a couple reviews, and then that bad boy was MINE.

Seriously, four books. What is my PROBLEM? Where am I going to put these things? What am I going to do when the ugly bin beside my bed finally explodes and I have nowhere else to hide my seriously out-of-control habit?

Maybe I can cram a few into that little space beside the refrigerator.

Am I the only one who has an out-of-control book habit? And what’s on your summer reading list?


MaryF said...

Boy do I know this!!! And I got a $25 gift cert to Amazon and now....well, I'm almost as bad at buying DVDs. But THEN I go to the library and get MORE books. My dh does not get that.

I enjoyed PS I Love You in both formats, but they're very different. No William in the book, for instance :( Thank goodness he was in the movie.

I'll be interested to hear what you think about Twilight.

MaryF said...

Oh, forgot - Robin Hood Season 2 will be on DVD August 5!

Cathy in AK said...

My husband and I are both afflicted, but his usually manifests when he's in an airport. He also has the odd quirk of selecting the second or third book of a series when we don't have the first. At least *I* make sure to get the whole trilogy.

And yes, we've passed this affliction on to our children. Their bookshelves overflow, and we cannot leave a bookstore without something for each of us.

Tracy Montoya said...

No William?! That sucks! I loved William! He MADE that movie for me, because it would have been too sad otherwise. (Although honestly, what are the chances of falling in love at first site with two amazing looking men in Ireland?)

And I checked Amazon, and it's the complete series that's coming out on Aug. 5! WHOO!

Tracy Montoya said...

I wish my husband were similarly afflicted, Cathy. He's rather cheap@$$, so he doesn't get my disease and sometimes gets on me about the book-stack obstacle course in the house!

Tracy Montoya said...

And WEIRD about buying the middle book of a trilogy!

Cathy in AK said...

RE: buying the middle of a trilogy--when DH is in a bookstore his disease is such that he THINKS we have the first book somewhere at home. Rather than call and ask me to check, he just buys the middle or last book. We eventually get the first books, of course.

He also tends to buy books we already have, explaining that the BOBB (Back of Book Blurb) sounded good. I tell him it must have sounded very good because we've already read it or he's already bought it and our copy is in the TBR pile.

HollyJacobs said...

Tracy, I sooo have the same affliction. BW--before writing--I easily read a book a day. But this last year my writing schedule has been nuts, so my reading has fallen way off. But that doesn't stop my need to buy and save books for when I have time. And that explains why my TBR pile is threatening to eat my office. It's huge. I think the books are now reproducing on their own. A Nora Roberts book and a Susan Elizabeth Phillips books now have a Nora Phillips books sandwiched between them...okay, not really, but I'm just waiting for it to happen! LOL

Sorry about your boxes of books. Hope they're released in your new home soon!


MaryF said...

You may have notice William made the movie for me, too ;) But the book isn't sad....I enjoyed it a lot.

Tracy Montoya said...

Cathy, I did that for the first time a few weeks ago--brought home a book I already had. And here's the sad thing--I can't remember which one it was or what I did with the redundant copy!

Tracy Montoya said...

Oh, good. OK, I'll keep reading, Mary. : )

Tracy Montoya said...

LOL on the books reproducing, Holly! I wonder if my boxes in the garage are doing the same thing--they definitely look like it!

HollyJacobs said...


You'll have to let me know when you unpack if you find any new, reproduced books! LOL


Kim said...

Chimming in so late on the whole book disease discussion but I just have to say, I can SO relate to your books being forced out of the house! I still have about twenty (yes, twenty!) boxes of my beloved paperbacks in our garage from our move. I can hardly go out there, looking at all those poor boxes just breaks my heart. Lesson husband has learned: better build those bookcases SOON because I just keep buying and buying. AND I of course have to also buy those all time favorites that are forced to do time in his garage.

Now, on to the important topic: GET THOSE MEYER BOOKS READ!! I've been warning you: at RWA I'm planning a late night gabbed fest on Bella and Edward. Bella and Jacob. And how and where I think Meyer's has written herself into a wall. (There will be chocolate on hand to keep up our strength!!)

PS Thought you'd enjoy this from your last post. Our nearly new stove at the rental house is a goner. Yep, that's right. Another appliance bites the dust. UGH!!

Michelle Monkou said...

My husband put books that I still had into boxes (one that I mailed from previous RWA conferences) in the shed (that's like the land of no return). I tried to stop him, but he did it when I left for another conference. Now I'm about to ship a box to Guyana, but that's for a worthy cause.

I am proud of myself that I only purchased one book at RWA conference. Everything else was free - and I didn't do the mad dash for every publisher signing, either. Back in the day, I would have had at least three boxes mailed to the house.

But I'm not ready to check myself into a book addiction rehab center nor have an intervention. I'm embracing my book buying gluttony in all its splendor.


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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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