AN ADDICTION by Sandy Schuster-Hubbard
“Hi. I’m Sandy and I’m a compulsive reader. I am powerless to stop buying books.”
It started innocently enough in childhood with a simple “See Spot run.” What would Dick and Jane do next? At first those school books were free. And everybody was doing it. I progressed to fairy tales, comic books, movie magazines, the Sunday funnies. All too soon, I skidded into the hardcore stuff––hardback books.
My incessant need to find out what happens next consumed me. I was hooked. I read leaning against trunks of shade trees. I read lying on a blanket in the sunshine. I read with a flashlight under the covers until I finished the book.
When I enrolled in college, I majored in literature to cover my compulsion. I told others “Yeah––I have to read this for a class.” When I didn’t have a book, I felt anxious. Then the shallow breathing and cold sweats began.
I worried where my next book was coming from.
If I had to wait any place for longer than three seconds, I needed a book.
When money was scarce, I resorted to the library, but they expected me to return the books and frowned on highlighting, notes in the margins, or folded page corners.
I needed to consume my books. When I read, I read it all––front and back covers, dedications, prefaces, acknowledgements, tables of content, and in my darker moments, appendixes and glossaries. I read anything placed in front of me––including advertisements, the backs of cereal boxes, soup labels.
I did draw the line at reading directions.
I told myself I could stop anytime.
I became a teacher so I had to carry books around. And best of all, I claimed my book buying on my taxes. I had receipts. Sweet! Until the IRS audited me. They thought deducting seventy-five percent of my income on books unusual.
My lowest point was pushing my habit off onto my children. First, I enticed them by reading to them. Then, when they learned to read themselves, I progressed to bed-time threats: “You can either read for thirty minutes or you can go to sleep.” I knew this was an insidious pseudo choice. Nothing was sacred, I gave them books for their birthdays and Christmas presents.
Because I like choices, I carried around bags of books. My spine began curving under the weight. Kindle rescued me. Then I could carry hundreds of books with no one the wiser. No more donning disguises to cover my trips to Barnes and Noble. I ordered e-books from Amazon and received them in a minute.
I love instant gratification.
Oh, my Gawd, then I discovered the classics were free. Eventually, I had to buy a second Kindle. I finally admitted I had a problem.
I’m better now. I’m reading books on recovery.