On self control

I’ve already fessed up that food is an area of weakness for me.  God and I are working that one out, slowly.  But my other main area of temptation…anyone who reads this blog regularly can probably guess.  It’s books, of course. 

Dan and I have to put some limits on my book buying, a book budget, so to speak.  That’s why the library is such a good thing for me, but then again, I go a little crazy there.

Have I ever told you that I maxed out the University of Vermont’s book borrowing allowance?  I don’t think it happens very often because I’d temporarily stumped the librarian. I had a nice armload of books to check out, and the computer stopped me mid-pile.  After one look at the amount of books in my account, she figured it out.  She wasn’t sure of the exact number, but somewhere after 100 books, you get cut off.  But she’d never seen it happen before (there’s always a first).

In my apartment, I had at least 100 library books stacked in piles.  I could account for where each and every single one of them was.  In fact, all of them were on my works cited list on the paper I was currently writing.  They were resources that I was actively reading and using in my work.

It was painful to pick and choose which ones were destined to be returned, so I could bring new ones into the fold.  I almost cried when Dan and I made several trips with boxes to unload the rest of them at the end of the semester.  Dan had a slightly different response.  We’ll call it “bemused.”

So you can understand my dilemma when I was stuck for 3 hours in London on a layover, and while browsing through an airport bookstore, I came upon Philippa Gregory’s latest novel…the one that isn’t published in the US yet.  I’ve been on the waitlist for that thing in the States for weeks!  I had no idea it was already out in England.  Talk about a kid in a candy store.

After I finished my little dance of joy and wiped the drool off the cover, I glanced at the price: 20 pounds.  Not bad, I thought.  But then, I remembered that the pound is about double the dollar right now.  Forty dollars for a book.  That’s a bit steep. 

I hemmed and hawed and paced around the bookstore, lovingly stroking the cover as I browsed through the other British titles. 

But eventually, I placed the book back in it’s #1 Bestseller spot on the wall.  I gazed up at it longingly, bid it farewell, and walked out of the store.

That, my friends, is self control.  Self control sucks sometimes.

But I only need to hold out until September 16.  Phew.

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  1. Last year I read a short book by Steve Leveen called “The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life“ and he talked about always having on hand a “Library of Candidates”. The analogy he used was that a chef doesn’t wait until he or she is ready to cook before they go shopping for that meal. In the same way, he says that readers should always have their shelves stocked up in case they’re hungry for something to read.

    Anyway, I thought of that book when I saw your photo above 🙂 I think you showed great restraint putting that book back too. September 16 is almost a month away !

    AL: Sounds like a dangerous book! I’ll have to check that one out at the library. =) Actually, my pastor has been on the “personal library” topic for awhile. He’s a big advocate of amassing a large personal library. I can see some benefits of it, of course, but I also like to make sure that those books are available to others and not gathering dust in my own home. I love lending out my books to friends. The library in the picture is actually one I visited in Zurich. It’s the Joyce archives, and it’s a place I drooled over for a while. An entire room lined with shelves of books, all about Joyce. I should put up a picture of my own shelves someday. They’re sort of spread throughout my entire apartment, though (as you can imagine)

  2. Sometimes I sit down on my couch and just stare at all my books. All that information, all those stories, right at my fingertips. Of course, I’ve only read about half of them, maybe less. In my opinion, the book will never go out of style. The smell of the pages, the feel of it in your hands – reading is an experience. But you already know that 🙂

    After all that rambling, I must also add that being a book lover (aka hoarder) myself, I commend you for your self-restraint.

    AL: HAHA! I didn’t want to use the word “Hoarder,” but there’s times, well, that’s just what to call it. Last night, after writing that post, I arrived at the library just when they were restocking the “used book” shelf. I went a little berserk. With $40 books, I guess I have restraint. When they’re .50, watch out.

  3. Why aren’t more people like you around when it is time to move a library?
    When the Flower Mound, TX library built a new building, they asked every card holder to check out as many books as they felt comfortable with, then asked that they return the books to the new library.

    Perhaps you should suggest to your librarian that it might be a good time to consider moving their collection, with you being in town and all….I’m just sayin’…

    AL: What a great idea! I’m guessing that some people wouldn’t want certain books around their house though. I’m thinking the sexual dysfunction section took awhile to get cleared out! In the latest pottery barn catalog, I noticed that a coffee table was constructed entirely out of stacked books. Not a bad idea, except if you plan on actually reading those books. Then, it throws the whole design off when you go pawing through the pile.

  4. Yay you!

    I’ve put myself on a big budget right now with books.
    No more until I read some of the ones I already have not read yet.

    Plus my bday is a month and a half away; so, hopefully my family hits up my wish list!

    Of course, I did ask my sister to get me a good can opener. Really. A can opener. But I need a decent one. On that note, at the place I’m puppy sitting, I was using this really awful can opener. Took my over 1/2 hour to open 12 or so cans. (I was making a ridiculous amount of chili.) This morning, I spotted an electric one and another hand held one. I laughed at my persistence to use the one that didn’t work instead of opening my eyes to the ones that were right in front of my face.

    Can we say sleep deprived?!?

    AL: Hehe. I can’t imagine the amount of chili you were making! I was thinking that it must be the dog food (not implying that your chili tastes like dog food). My mom got the coolest hand operated one that is also electric. I think she got it at Walmart or some big chain. It leaves no sharp edges. Has worked well for over a year and doesn’t eat the batteries. Not to bad of a price tag either. Thinking of getting one myself.

    Oh, for birthdays, I love to ask for Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Cards. That way, you can get whatever books you fancy. Plus, you can also get the used books with the gift cards, which makes the money go even further!

  5. Yes, that IS heroic self control…though I guess the price helped. Is this what they pay in the UK for books, or is that just the airport price?? I wonder….

    I admit, as I was reading along, I was saying to myself, “she HAS to buy that book…don’t put it back!” until I saw the price.

    Well, you have future hours of pleasure to look forward to once it is published here…and maybe even more if you check it out at the library instead of buying it…can you wait that long?

    AL: I certainly can’t vouch for standard UK prices. I admit I was tempted to venture into the city to see if I could get a better deal, but I really didn’t want to miss my international flight! That whole double the dollar thing really stinks. I can imagine that a holiday in GB would really cost the US traveler some big bucks these days. It wasn’t so bad in Zurich, with the dollar being even, but everything there just seems to cost about double anyway. Except spices, for some odd reason.


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