I am a bibliophile.
Now, usually this is viewed in a positive light and rightly so. If you read, supposedly, you are well informed and self-motivated to learn. You know how to read texts in a deeper manner and you have the ability to visualize events that are not occurring right in front of you. As a result, you slowly morph, without your consent, into a logophile and then a general bilbiomanaic – both of which in large doses are quite unsound. You tend to remember more about Tom Sawyer’s childhood than your own, and “your words” can be easily traced back to Shakespeare, Wilde, and Chesterton. Your life slowly demarcates itself into two parts: when you read and when you do not. The latter part quickly becomes tedious and boring. Conversations that cannot be manipulated to discuss the latest books become noisy, unrelenting static. Television programs that do not mention at least one book per episode are labeled as sub-par and in want of new writers. Shopping centers that do not carry books besides NYT best sellers are henceforth abandoned. Your day is not complete unless you can venture aimlessly through a bookstore/library for more than an hour. Books become your life, and your life becomes secondary.
This is what has happened to me in the past ten years. I can probably tell you little to nothing about my time in 5th grade but Harry’s 5th year in Hogwarts is etched in my mind. I have seen more of the world through books – England, North Carolina, Russia – than I have in real life – Ossining, New York. I can recite quotations without a moment’s hesitation, but it takes me a minute or two to recall our national anthem.
Is this healthy?
Well, in my core, I concur, but sometimes my certainty falters and I am left with unwavering doubt.
Sadly, I have a feeling that it is too late for me. Checking out 25 books from the library and buying used, yellowing paperbacks has become too much of a high and a habit to completely stop. Reading has become a part of my being, of my existence, that if exorcised would end me.
So choosing between a life lived and a life read is, for me, no contest.