For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Name is Scott…and I’m a Bookoholic

Sitting next to my desk as I write is a pile of about three dozen books. On the shelf behind me are more stacks, about 8 or 9 dozen more. Most wouldn’t see that as a problem, but you see, these are books I haven’t even read yet. This isn’t even considering the1,500 or so books that fill up the rest of the shelves. These are just books that I saw in a store, saw online, thought I couldn’t live without and just had to buy; and yet I haven’t had a chance to get to read them yet.

I’ve shared often here my love for books in general. But often, I’ll be in the middle of one book, when suddenly I see two or three more that I think would be wonderful, and I buy them. Sometimes, I’ll end up putting the first book aside and start reading one of the new ones. Meanwhile, the first book is left unfinished. (I mentioned my lack of “finishing” skills back in the summer)

I think I have a problem. It’s not just the lack of finishing a book. I usually get around to that…eventually. It’s this compulsion to continue buying more and more books. The books themselves are good books. Books on theology. Books on ministry. Books on family and family worship and so on. All good books. But just because a book is good, does that mean I have to buy it? Is this a healthy thing, or is this an unhealthy compulsion?

I’ve always jokingly used Paul’s words to Timothy as somewhat of a justification for this obsession with books. Near the end of this life, the thing that he asked his young protégé to bring to him was his books (2 Timothy 4:13). Certainly this does highlight the importance of reading and study, even though we don’t know exactly what was in that collection of books. But still, does this really justify my seeming compulsion to continue buying more books.

As I said before, the growth of technology has made this worse, with my Kindle also heavy laden with more and more books. This problem is amplified by the large amount of free material available for download. Again, these are good resources. Many of the “old” books are being made available, and this is truly good. But does one man need all these? Will I ever actually get all of them read? Especially if I keep adding to the piles?

Just looking for some help and advice, I guess. Are there others out there who suffer from this obsession? Is it something I should seek treatment for? Are there any good 12 step programs for obsessive book buyers/collectors? Books are good, but is this a case of too much of a good thing?

Maybe I just need to listen to the advice from one of my mentors in the faith, C. H. Spurgeon who tells his students: Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them, masticate and digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed. Little learning and much pride comes from hasty reading. Some men are disabled from thinking by their putting meditation away for the sake of much reading. In reading let your motto be “much not many.” (Letters to My Students)

Much, not many. Pretty good advice. Even if I did read it in a book! Anyway, confession is good for the soul, I suppose; and I guess this is just one little way of confessing. I appreciate your prayers as I struggle with this little compulsion of mine. And if you hear of any good book sales…Don’t Tell Me!!


Lisa Hampton said...

Love this! I do have a compulsion to purchase books. Usually don't have the time to read many of them. And I prefer fiction or once in awhile a "family help" book which btw rarely helps. :) My fiction has grown and become more acceptable. I went from reading all of John Sauls books as a teen (scary horrific interesting reading) to Beverly Lewis(Amish stories). I am positive that none of these books have added much to my life - other than a knowledge of the Amish culture and taking my mind into a scary place with Mr. Saul. I really think he may have needed some help .... like Jesus! I don't read very fast and when I do if I don't catch a point I will re-read it until I do.

I have a cousin who can read a fairly big book in a day or two. I wish i had that ability. But then again I wonder how much she really does attain. Most of her reading is Romance novels. She probably reads 40 - 50 books a month. She does go to "used" book stores which when you think about the content of these books is pretty yucky. lol

I have tried not to purchase books like making a deal with myself that I have to read two more books before I purchase more. That works.

Your quote from Spurgeon doesn't seem like it supports your book fetish. Do you give books away? I have a serious problem doing that too. It's like a I feel like they are a part of me. That is so not biblical. I also can't take it if people throw books away unless it's say Harry Potter. :)

Persis said...

I'm a bookaholic too. Most of my book purchases are theology, maybe because I was doctrinally starved. I have more than I will probably read in my lifetime. New books are constantly being published, but my preference are the dead guys. But as good as these books are, I don't want to neglect the Bible. One positive thing is this will be a legacy for my daughter and maybe the next generation after that, God willing.

Gregg said...

Dude, I love books too! I try to buy a book a payday. A pastor friend just mailed me 5 books along with the three volume set of Theology my McCune.

Here is your solution:

Go hi-tech (like everyone but me) get your E books, Kindles, downloads, and all that hi tech stuff and then ship me your books where they will be cherished, treasured, pampered, and studied.

I'll never go E book or kindle so I will make the sacrifice and give your books a good home. Deal?

Scott said...

Lisa, too much Amish romance will rot your brain! (Just ask Cheryl) And yes, I do give books away frequently, but then go out and buy a replacement!

Persis, I like the idea of a legacy. Maybe I can use that as my justification!

Gregg, sorry brother. As much as I like the font enlargement on my kindle, the feel, smell, etc. of a real book can never be replaced. So as much as I'd like to bless you, you ain't gettin' my books!

~Brenda said...

"No temptation has overtaken you, except such as is common to man ..."

Trust me. You're not alone. I will say, however, that I've gotten better. Mostly because I have nowhere to put anymore books. So, I'm reading what I have. And then I'll throw out the ones that stunk, and go get some more!!

And God bless Kindles! They store a massive amount of books and don't take up a lot of room. I think they're God's way of answering my prayers. ;-)