(DISCLAIMER: the following does not apply to books I have committed to review. Those are my first priority and generally get finished quickly. The following does apply to books I check out on a whim from the library)).
I have a confession.
I am a promiscuous book reader. I couldn’t commit to a single novel unless my life depended on it. Even then, I’d have to be really sure that death was actually imminent.
I used to flatter myself that promiscuous reading was a sign of innate creativity and intelligence. My mind just wasn’t ready to settle down to the humdrum realities of actually finishing something. That would be too boring. Too stifling. Too…committed.
Yes, I have literature commitment issues. Perhaps some of you have them too. You go to the library to return one book, and come away with five (“just a few”) or ten (“I just couldn’t leave this one behind”) or even twenty (“I just had a REALLY bad day”). Once the treasured tomes come home, you stick them in the middle of the floor, pick up the first one and enter a fascinating new world–for about ten minutes. Then ‘Real Life’ enters, in the form of a needy child or a pile of homework or a husband who just tripped over the books on the floor. After you finish feeding the kid, doing/making the exercises, and negotiating with the husband (“there just wasn’t room on the bookshelf”), you settle down with the book–and the magic’s gone. The writing is still sharp, the characters interesting, but it just doesn’t fit anymore.
So you grab another off the pile. That one charms you with a fast-moving plot and fast-talking characters. Somehow, it follows you into the bed room, and ends up on your night stand.
However, when you reach for a book the next morning to take on the train or for a coffee break during work, book #2 just doesn’t cut it. Maybe it’s too fast. Maybe the characters talk too much. Or maybe it won’t fit into your backpack or briefcase. Whatever the reason, you go back to the pile, and grab a third book.
Before you know it, all five books are Reads in Progress. Well, alright, you’re just creative, yes? They’ll all get finished eventually. So you put it out of your mind.
Until one day, you get The Email. It uses such foul language as “due date” and “fines” and “no renewals left.”
Then you enter the 5 Stages of Overdue Book Grief:
Denial/Isolation: “They couldn’t have been due this soon! Ooops, parent/friend/significant other watching–quick, close the browser!”
Anger: “How dare they charge me $10! Seriously, what happened to free libraries?”
Bargaining: “If I promise that this is the last time I’ll have to pay a fine, can I get out more books? Please parent/friend/significant other?”
Depression: “They’re gone. They’re all…GONE. I’ll never know if the aliens would have conquered Earth, or whether the house was haunted by ghosts or just had a really bad case of rodent infestation.”
Acceptance: “I’ll just have to check out more. Plus, I DO have that discount at the bookstore…”
This is an extreme case of book promiscuity. Most people manage to return the books before they get fines. Others sensibly buy the books so there is no limit on their reading commitments. I’ve even heard of the rare few who actually finish all the books. If you are the latter, please comment so that I may give you a golden crab nebula sticker and a look of appreciative awe.
Currently, I am in the recovery stages of book promiscuity, with the help of a very understanding-yet-firm husband. As long as I keep the fines minimal to none and keep the books in an unused part of the floor, I may continue to check out a reasonable amount of books.