I’m a glutton for books.
I have to keep myself from going to the library every week because I snatch books off the shelves and pack them in my arms until they are overflowing—not unlike a kid with her first birthday cake smeared across her face, arms, and hair.
I walk out in a daze, wondering, how can I possibly digest all of this before I have to drop them into the return chute?
What really gets me in trouble is the seven-day-shelf. At our library, this is the place where the best sellers live, and if you check one out you only have seven days to finish reading and return or else…you have to physically go back to the library check it in and then check it back out. None of the convenient online renewal check boxing. You have to go back to the library and face the shame that you are keeping someone else from this bestseller.
I prefer to hide behind my screen and renew my pile of books from the privacy of my home.
But that seven-day-shelf is so tempting.
It holds all the books I read about on lists, with their new shiny covers and promise of wonder.
If only I could stop at just one story-morsel when I cross that library threshold. Instead, much like the candy in the grocery store checkout, the seven-day-delights live right on the way out the door. The last stop. I always snatch one up at the last second.
Saturday Nick and I ran into the library so I could pick up a book on hold.
I walked by my seven-day friends real casually. I had been at the library the day before (to pick up another book on hold—my timing wasn’t great this week), and had already pawed through the seven-dayers and decided I didn’t have time to shift my attention solely to one of these pleasure-reads when I have articles to write and a stack of five books already open at home.
As I ogled the shelf from the corner of my eye my head snapped around, my body followed suit and before I knew it Ruth Reichl’s newest book, Save Me the Plums, was scanned and mine for seven whole days.
I started reading it immediately when I got home. Forget those other books, this cake was too tasty.
I love reading about food, especially food memoirs. It’s a recent love, and I guess a pretty specific genre, but I just eat them up.
I love learning about the world through one person’s journey with cooking and eating. For me, it’s almost as good as learning about the world through actually eating.
I haven’t yet read Ruth Reichl’s whole cannon, because her writing is something I like to savor. Even so, after only three days I finished my latest catch of hers.
A restaurant critic for years, a freelance writer, a memoirist, and as I learned from this particular book—the editor of Gourmet magazine. Her nonfiction reads like fiction. It feels effortless and so textured that I can almost taste the food and it feels like I’m peering over her shoulder in her mind’s eye as she remembers these watershed moments in her life. (Not unlike Harry as he joins Dumbledore in the pensieve…I’m also rereading Harry Potter again…)
Reichl makes me want to write. She makes me want to experiment telling my own stories with abandon. Hers are a feast of words and I can’t stop shoveling them in.
I find myself in the dilemma I’ve known since childhood: do I keep devouring her words at this pace or do I slow and savor?
I want it to last forever, but it will end too soon.
Just like that first piece of birthday cake.
Even though I devour books hastily, especially those about food, they stay with me long after I snap the cover closed. Like that first bite of cake, a good book opens me up to experiencing new wonder and perspective of the world; I return to the stories in my mind, I let the writing inspire the way I form sentences, I try out the recipes recommended by the author.
I heard once that it’s good to have a full bookshelf—with more books than you might ever read—because it’s a reminder that there is still so much of the world to learn about and experience. It reminds me that I don’t know everything, and I have the opportunity to keep learning and growing and listening to other people’s stories.
So yes, I am a glutton for books, and while I sometimes feel ashamed when I take home more than I’ll actually be able to digest, I’m grateful for the full shelves that beckon me to keep stretching and expanding my perspective.