The difficulties of being a book lover

There are many things which I love about books. The ability to fall into a new world every time you pick up a page, to discover and root for new relationships, to follow along as you watch people overthrow corrupt systems, learn new things, explore new worlds, and live a thousand lives, but let’s be real. There are many difficulties inherent in being a book lover too.

Here’s a list of the top 5 difficulties I have with being a book lover:

1. When you have to do things, but you just want to READ

You know the feeling. You have to do the washing. You need to write an essay. You really should go shopping. You have to cook dinner. Your best friend who lives halfway across the world is coming to visit for one day and you absolutely must leave now if you want to see them. But you’re at such a good point in your book! Everything is tense and exciting! The romance is swoon-worthy! The witty banter is flying! If only there were more hours in the day, so that I could read all I want and also do all the things I have to (and want to) do as well.

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My desk at present. I’m supposed to be marking the dissertations on the right, but ACOWAR on the left is calling to me in plaintive tones.

2. When you lend someone a book and they give it back damaged

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Inside of damaged book, Erica Cheup, CC-BY-ND 2.0

I will admit that some of my books aren’t in the best condition. The older ones, certainly, and my favourite ones, have been through half a lifetime of being squashed onto book shelves, read, reread, loved, slept on, probably drooled on… but they are all extremely precious to me. So if I lend someone a book and they give it back damaged, a part of me dies inside. And I remember never to lend that person a book ever again.

I have to confess, though, I have been guilty of this. I borrowed a book off a friend of mine, and my perfume leaked in my bag. So when I returned it, it smelled quite strongly of DKNY Red Delicious. Which, okay, is my favourite perfume, but probably not the case for him. By way of apology, I bought him the next book in the series.

Bonus difficulty: When you lend someone a book and they never give it back

Extra bonus difficulty: If you can’t remember who you lent the book to.

3. When you finish the latest book in a series and realise you have to wait forever for the next one to be published

A Song of Ice and Fire, anyone? Or those terrible years waiting for the Harry Potter books to be released? An Ember in the Ashes (I NEED more Elias and Laia). Tower of Dawn, and ToG 6, which doesn’t even have a title! Fireblood! Bloodwitch! Shadowblack!

I believe we should institute a Netflix-type model for releasing book series. The entire season should all be made available at once, so that you can binge to your heart’s content!

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My GoodReads tbr is filled with books which are the next in a series, often without a title or a cover, but I’m suffering through the waiting time. The only problem is that while I’m waiting, I pick up a new series to read, and then I finish the available books in *that* series and I have to wait for even more books!

4. The exquisite joy/misery of being in a bookshop

It’s so beautiful. I want to live there. I want to pick up every book that catches my eye, and bring it home with me, snuggle it up to me, and love it forever. But unfortunately I don’t have all the time in the world. Or, in fact, all the money. So every time I enter a bookshop it becomes a balancing act between ‘I want all of them!’ and ‘I don’t want my bank account to hate me!’

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Waterstone’s by Raymond Snijder, CC-BY-NC 2.0

Of course, then, there is also the almost guaranteed fact that if you lose me in a shop, I’ll have wandered over to the books (that, or the underwear. Unrelated), and you’re likely to find me desperately clutching several books, wanting to take them all home with me and adopt them. You know the way some people get about puppies? Yeah. That’s me with books.

5. The difficulty of choosing which book to read next

8b03c20d-c416-4491-864d-901cfd8d70e7I’m not particularly good at choices. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I am wildly indecisive. So when it comes to the point where I’ve just finished a book and I’m deciding what to pick up next, I am inevitably gripped by paralysing indecision. If I enjoyed the book, should I continue in the same genre? Is there a sequel I could read? Do I want a break from this author? Should I sprinkle my reading with diversity? Do I want to read a book on Kindle? Or do I want to read a physical book? Do I have ARCs to read and review? Do I want a long book, or a short book? Do I want fantasy or realism, or a blend of the two? YA or Adult? Children’s? Middle Grade? What if I don’t like this one? What if I ruin the reading high I’m on? What if I wait too long to read a book, and it somehow… vanishes? (Sometimes I do wonder this. It has never yet happened, but I always fear that it might.) Was it recommended by someone I know? Do I need to read it so I can discuss it with my sister? Will I be able to retrieve it from my TBR stack without it collapsing? (A very real issue, which reared its head when my friend Kellie suggested I should read All The Light We Cannot See, and I said that it was a physical impossibility, due to its position in the stack).

So while I ponder all of these questions, I seriously struggle to choose what to read. What if the book I really want to read appears on my doorstep (via, I dunno, magic?) and I can’t read it because I’m already reading something else? (Just read two books at once, I know).

And then inevitably, when I have chosen which book I want to read next, I will forget to put it in my bag, or download it onto my kindle, and when I try to start reading, I’m faced with the same question again, augmented by the worries of whether I should just wait and find the book I wanted, or start a new book in the meantime.

I’m telling you. For a relaxing pastime, reading comes with a lot of struggles! What are your top difficulties of being a reader?

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