September 16, 2008

Expensive Emotions Causing A Book Diet (Revised)


I figured it out. I'm an emotional consumer. When emotional times hit, I consume. When depressed, I eat, drink, shop, whatever. Happy? Same thing, only in this state I'm also prone to buy friends eats, drinks and things from shops. Pretty much every emotional state I have from bored to elated to the many colors of the displeased feminine rainbow from (A angry to Z zaftig-jealousy) I have some corollary consumption. So, you know, when President Bush told everybody to go out shopping after 9/11, this old boy done his part. Shit, I tried to rent a movie on the night of 9/11/01, but I couldn't since Blockbuster was blocked by all the cars lined up to get gas thinking there'd be some kind of ridiculous price increase as a result...turns out that noose was just slowly tightened over the next seven years.

Like today, I'm was mopey, one of the many colors of the depressed male rainbow, from making no creative progress as of late, stuck with my meaningful job (and feeling like a tool for complaining about like a broken record), and getting rejected for another jobs (this time, they said not interviewing me was "mutually beneficial"... that's a new kind of fuck you, ain't it?). So, what did I do? Went out, bought a 12 pack sampler of Goose Island beer, some extra vegetables for my frozen pizza dinner and a made sure to swing by Avol's Bookstore just to see what was there, and, wouldn't you know it, I found something. A book by Raymond Carver called Fires, which collects some of his essays, poems and un-Lished stories into one volume. I never heard of it, it was cheap, never read any Carver poetry, so that bad boy is on my shelf.

Now, it used to be CDs and fast food for my emotional consuming. That's why I had so many CDs and weighed more than 350 pounds. Now that I've quit those, now I'm onto books, big time. As evidenced by some previous posts here where I went fucking buck wild on book binges (which has slowed, but books are still coming in quicker than they can be read). So, tonight, I took out some paper and went to the shelves and wrote out all the books that I own, that I haven't read their entirety, yet want to read completely. This includes anthologies, non-fiction, poetry, and books I should have read for classes but couldn't quite complete (coughLolitacoughamongotherscough) not just the novels and story collections I bought on total whims or recommendations from others. The total number?


That is ridiculous. And that's only books I want to read, and not books that I want to reread sometime soon, like The Great Gatsby or Pride & Prejudice or A Farewell to Arms. Yes, there are books, probably too many, that we own which I don't want any part of, and some of them Emily probably doesn't want either. So why, oh why, do we have them? How did it ever get this bad?

I had the same reaction when I noticed that I was too fat for my electronic scale to read my weight 80 or so pounds ago. Just looked looked down, and sort of around my gut, and thought, "How the fuck did it ever come to this?" And now, I am by no means thin, but I am at least thinner, and I need to take the same commitment to getting this number of unread books down to something manageable.

So, here's my pledge to myself. A five to one policy. I need to read at least five books before I will allow myself to buy another one. I was going to start off with a ten to one ratio, but if this diet is going to work, I can't expect to lose all the weight in a day, I need to be smart, know my limitations and work within them at a substantial, yet reasonable pace.

When will I kick this pledge off? Well, right now. Maybe it's not fair because I'm about twenty pages away from finishing one, but that's the way it has to be. I'm adding a sidebar to track the progress, along with titles of what's coming on the reading plan. There may be the occasional review as well, if something so strikes me. I have been reading a lot as of late, and nothing has really sparked anything worth saying, except that I think Philip Roth's American Pastoral really could have used an editor with a pair of brass balls to stand up to Mr. Roth's apparent genius. It's a good book, but not really one to be read in isolation, as you really need a discussion group to truly enjoy it with all it's complexities. See, that's not a review, that's an anecdote.

Anyway, book diet starts now, let's do this thing.

viva el mustache.

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