Confessions of A Book Flirt

I’ve been on a budget lately, or at least trying to be. That’s what happens when you quit your job and have no money coming in; you start only buying essentials. Books are essentials, of course. But I have a book problem: I can’t walk into a bookstore without buying at least $100 worth of books. I’ve tried to make lists and only buy one book at a time. I’ve made a decision not to buy hard covers anymore. I have a Kindle, but I have this thing about owning books. I want to touch them, stack them up, possess them. I want all of the books on my list Right Now. I don’t want to wait till I need a new book.

I’m a bit of a book flirt. I go on lots of first dates with books. I read many books at once, refusing to commit until I’m sure I want to go down that road. I don’t promise them anything, just that I will give them a chance. I don’t discriminate. I read all kinds of books: lit fiction to chick lit, mysteries to fantasy, short stories to poetry. If I like the way your cover looks, I’ll buy you. If a friend confides that you’re really really good, I’ll give it a go. If Oprah likes you, I’ll at least put you on my list. If I read your author’s blog, or a good review, or someone leaves you behind in a vacation cabin, I’ll probably pick you up.

Eleanor Brown wrote about this on her blog, about whether you are a book quitter or finisher. I’m a quitter; my husband is a finisher. My general theory is that you can’t force yourself to love a book. If I’m not loving it, I put it down. Usually I’ll come back to it and see if the spark is there yet. One of my all-time favorites is The Sun Also Rises. I tried to read it at least 5 times over 10 years and was bored. Then, the 6th time, picked it up and magic! Couldn’t put it down. If I had forced myself to read it, I would have missed out on one of my favorites. Hence, I’ve always got a few books going at once, waiting to see which one is going to be tucking in with me at night.

Last night I decided to make a list of all of the books that I own, but haven’t read yet. I’ve decided to make it a goal to read each and every one of these books. I got as far as my BEDSIDE TABLE. On/in my bedside table, I keep the books I am wanting to read soon. On the bookshelves is where I keep the other books, the ones I want to re-read or get to someday or the books that never quite kept my attention. The list of books below is only those on my bedside table. (Note that I did no editing for embarrassment.)

1. The Ice Queen- Alice Hoffman
2. Housekeeping- Marilynne Robinson
3. Freddy and Fredericka- Mark Helprin
4. Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte
5. Lisey’s Story- Stephen King
6. The Widower’s Tale- Julia Glass
7. Amazing Grace (A Vocabulary of Faith)- Kathleen Norris
8. How To Be Single- Liz Tuccillo
9. Goldengrove- Francine Prose
10. The Imperfectionists- Tom Rachman
11. I Feel Bad About My Neck- Nora Ephron
12. Ape House- Sara Gruen
13. Home Game- Michael Lewis
14. House Rules- Jodi Picoult
15. Empire Falls- Richard Russo
16. NurtureShock- Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman*
17. By George- Wesley Stace
18. The Postmistress- Sarah Blake
19. The Three Weissmanns of Westport- Cathleen Schine
20. The French Gardener- Santa Monefiore
21. Dear Husband- Joyce Carol Oates
22. The Last Bridge- Teri Coyne
23. A Reliable Wife- Robert Goolrick
24. Summer At Tiffany- Marjorie Hart
25. Shanghai Girls- Lisa See
26. Her Fearful Symmetry- Audrey Niffenegger
27. East of Eden- John Steinbeck
28. Momma Zen- Karen Maezen Miller
29. Diamond Age- Neal Stephenson
30. The Tourist- Olen Steinhauer
31. While You Are Engulfed In Flames- David Sedaris
32. Mystic River- Dennis Lehane
33. Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It- Maile Meloy
34. Let The Great World Spin- Colum McCann
35. Operating Instructions- Anne Lamott
36. Female Trouble- Antonya Nelson
37. In A Perfect World- Laura Kasischke
38. Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens
39. The Gargoyle- Andrew Davidson
40. Red Hook Road- Ayelet Waldman*
41. Too Much Happiness- Alice Munro
42. A Game of Thrones- George R.R. Martin*
43. The Night Watch- Sara Waters
44. The Disappearance At Pere LaChaise- Claude Izner
45. Self Portrait With Crayon- Allison Benis White
46. Blink- Malcolm Gladwell
47. The Truth-Teller’s Lie- Sophie Hannah
48. If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This- Robin Black*
49. A Visit From The Goon Squad- Jennifer Egan*
50. The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins
51. Think Twice- Lisa Scottoline
*Denotes books I am actively reading

51 books! On just my bedside table. Which isn’t really that large to begin with (see picture above). This is just downright embarrassing. Looking at all of these books I’ve picked up, flirted with, and left sitting there, waiting their turn, I feel a bit wanton and blowsy. Faced with this evidence, I must face the fact that perhaps I’m not a harmless book flirt, but a full-blown book slut.

So. I’m going to add a reading tab on my blog (once I figure out how to do so). I WILL read these books. I will try my very hardest not to buy anymore books until I finish all of these books. Well, maybe at least a good portion, say 20%. I can’t promise anything, I mean, I still need to read Bossypants, and I heard about this fabulous new book on NPR yesterday that I’m dying to read, and I can’t leave out Dani Shapiro’s Devotion, which was just recommended to me. See my problem? Ok, how about this: I’ll also start a list of all of the books I am coveting, and will try to refrain from purchasing anymore until I’ve crossed one off the list. You know, a one-in, one-out policy. If you’ve read anything on either list, let me know if you liked it.

Fess up people. Are you a book flirt or a book slut? What’s on your bedside table RIGHT NOW?

P.S. Forgot about my Kindle. Darn it. Ok, here’s what’s on my Kindle:

52. The Weird Sisters- Eleanor Brown*
53. This Is Where We Live- Janelle Brown
54. A Drink Before The War- Dennis Lehane


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5 responses to “Confessions of A Book Flirt

  1. Love this list – my bedside table looks similar, and its growing stacks causes me active, real anxiety. I can say that Home Game by Michael Lewis will make you laugh OUT LOUD, and you’ll read it fast – I’m also a Neal Stephenson fan, and haven’t met too many out here … and Anne Lamott is my personal favorite writer ever which is really saying something! xoxo


  2. Wow Alisa, that is quite a list. I am the same way. Collecting books is my hobby because they remind me of my loves, reading and writing. I also pick up books depending on what mood I am in. I am reading Devotion right now too. Highly recommend it. And you must read Operating Instructions b/c it will give you a new impression of your life with O.
    I look forward to your new book tab on your blog.


  3. If I were you I’d forget the books, keep calm and have a cupcake.


  4. I am a *finisher*

    And hope for just the chance to get started come July.


  5. Wow. Just wow.

    I get so overwhelmed by my books sometimes…I actually just carted off two giant boxes of books to Goodwill and I told myself I could only go to the library from now on. A few thoughts on your amazing list…

    #10 – I loved it.
    #14 – Was just okay…not surprising as Jodi Picoult’s books are slowly beginning to decline in quality.
    #50 – I really want to read this one since so many people have recommended it to me.

    In any case you have nothing to feel guilty about. At least you are collecting books and not shoes, right?? 🙂


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