I don’t have many vices, or indeed things I enjoy, but I have an addiction to buying second-hand books. Being a librarian allows me to feed my addiction, as I can buy cheap books off the withdrawn pile. But whatever slight boost I get from buying them (and it is a slight boost, my anhedonia sees to that) is eroded later when I realise I’m never going to read all the books I buy.
Today I ended up with four books from the “for sale” pile. One on Islamism, one on politics and economics (deliberately buying something that will challenge my political views, vague and contradictory as they are), one on political history (probably the most interesting-looking) and one on psychology: one of Maslow’s books on self-actualisation. I thought should at least own the book, given that I use his hierarchy of needs to beat myself up about the impossibility of my ever being happy and having “peak experiences” when so many of my basic needs can not be met.
Goodness knows when I will get to read the books. I don’t have much time for recreational reading as it is between my job, the book I’m writing, my blog (which is often a need for self-expression rather than a luxury) and my religious obligations; when I do have time to read I’m often too tired or too depressed to do so, and all these books look heavy-going. I already have a huge ‘too read’ pile (or piles, plural, as I’m a re-reader – it often takes me two goes to really ‘get’ a serious book, whether fiction or non-fiction; the same goes for TV and film, incidentally) and I’m getting stack more books for Chanukah, possibly indicative of a lack of imagination on my part. There was no point asking for DVDs as I’m going to be stuck watching Doctor Who for another year or so as research for my book. I would like a new tie for shul, but other than that I hate getting clothes for presents, as I have little interest in them. I wanted something I would enjoy after a difficult, tiring term with resurgent depression and lots of little somethings on several nights of Chanukah (rather than one big one on first night) so I could feel I had some parental attention after my sister’s wedding even if the monetary cost to them is the same. We don’t do surprise presents very much in my family and anyway my sister is the only person I really trust to buy me surprise presents, so I had to choose something. Anyway, the librarian doth protest too much, methinks.
Still, I once worked out I spend about £1 a week on books. Even if I spend twice that, it’s still only about £100 a year and I do at least read some of them. As hobbies go, it’s cheaper than most. £100 would be fewer than ten trips to the cinema, and I must get more than 30 hours of pleasure out of a year’s worth of books.