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Confessinons of a Book-Addict

Yesterday I re-arranged the better part of my books. Not all of them, only the novels. Most of the novels. Since months they were trying to conquer my little apartment, piling in every corner, hiding when I am looking for one of them. Books are cruel when you don't find them. Or when they are not strong enough to keep you reading. Then they end up somewhere in the kitchen or fall from the bedside table and wait for further attention. Most of them start closer relationships with dust, which is also very attracted to books.

 

I only read novels, nothing else. Since two decades I try to read books about science, biographies, psychological and philosophical literature. It never really works for me. I read the biography of Richard Feynman and "Fermat's Last Theorem" and that should be enough non-fiction for a lifetime. This nevertheless does not stop me from buying more non-fiction books. I look into them every now and then, spend some time inside them, but never really read them from cover-to-cover. One of my latest acquisition is "Die Rückkehr der Geschichte" ("The return of history") by former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. I started reading it. It was very interesting. In the middle of the second chapter I stopped and now it leans against a half-read Willy Brandt biography and smooches with dust.

 

There are also many novels that I own but did not read – yet. They just keep coming in and start living with me. They tell me that they are very interesting and worth spending money and time on them. Once they are bought, they are a part of me. It seems impossible to get rid of them. I know I am an addict - but books are not my only addiction and I cannot care for every weakness that I have, so let's don't get into an argument whether it makes sense to buy something that is only used to bind dust.

 

Believe me, I tried to free myself from the addiction. At least once every week I have this vision of a free life, in which I only own a bed, two chairs, a table and a laptop. Books I would lend from the library, as every sound person does. It is a wonderful thought, I always feel light and happy when I think it.

 

During the last weeks I found out about BookCrossers, a group of people who intentionally lose their books. They register them beforehand in the internet, where they get a registration number that they write into the book together with a note that the person, who finds it, should go to the webpage and type the number in. That way the journey of a book can be followed. This sounded like the end of my addiction: I would lose all my books. I would take the best ones first, register them and share them one by one with the entire world.

 

Of course that dream was over when I stood in front of my shelf. First I took out "Post Office" and even before I had typed it's ISBN into the BookCrossers webpage I felt a scalpel sliding along the inside of my stomach. I was about to cut off an essential part of my body. Maybe I should start with a book which I have read several years ago, not one that I just finished. "Post Office" went on a pile again and I took out "The Music of Chance" – but no, not this one. Maybe a German book? Who wants to find a German book in Finland – it makes no sense to lose it here. Keep it, Georg, keep it! Even those that I had not read, that I never intend to read in the future, I could not decide to lose.

 

Yesterday I took a long look into the abyss of my character. Afterwards I gave in and decided to keep them all and to re-arranged at least the novels. Most of the novels. They went on several piles on my desk. German literature. Poetry. Crime. English and American writers. French authors. Finish stuff. The piles grew fast. I dragged the victims of my inattention out from every corner of the 42 square meter flat, blew the dust from them and put them on top of their pile. That was the easy part.

 

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Taken on April 2, 2006