Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Because I am a book reviewer, (Radio New Zealand National, Sunday Star Times, Beatties Book Blog), I receive quite a number of books that I do not have to pay for. However this does not stop me constantly buying books almost every time I enter a bookstore. Even though in many instances I know that I will not have the time to read the books I buy, the books for review must always take priority, I am still unable to help myself and invariably head home with three or four titles strapped on the Vespa. My compulsive book buying disorder seems to flare especially when I am away from New Zealand which results in parcels being posted home at great frequency. During our stay in New York last Christmas/New Year I sent back several kilos of books by post as well as coming very close to being charged excess baggage because of the books I had packed in our suitcases. Most of the NY-purchased books remain as yet unread.....................

Being a compulsive book buyer I always gain solace from reading of others who suffer the same affliction and in the last few days I have come across two of them among the New Zealand writing community! First up is Rachael King, winner of last year's Best First Book Award, for her stunning first novel The Sound Of Butterflies. This is what she had to say on her website:

I am greedy. I acquire books at a faster rate than I can read them. This has never been a problem for me, as they have always been absorbed by the thousands of books I have on my shelves at home and therefore all evidence of my extravagance disappears. It is quite alarming then, when you move to a temporary home and only bring fifteen or so books with you, when your book collection suddenly doubles and is well on the way to tripling. So I have tried to hold back a bit, only getting books out of the library or not at all, and it has been torture, but my bank balance is no doubt thanking me. I have been walking around bookshops longingly fondling the books I would like to take home with me and love.

So I was delighted when, after doing a reading at the local
UBS bookshop for Poetry Day on Friday, I was given a very generous and welcome koha - a book voucher. With my voucher I bought two books: Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier, which I had checked out of the univeristy library but which had been recalled before I had made much headway into it. Since it is a source of inspiration for my new novel, I thought this is one book I should own rather than borrow. The other book I bought was Emily Perkins' Novel About My Wife. I have wanted to read it ever since it came out, but had been holding out on the actual buying of it until I knew I had the time to sit down and read it. And still it called to me...

The voucher was unexpected, so it was a huge relief to be able to purchase these two books that have been cooing my name for so long.

My greed continues. Not only did I get myself these two books, but as it was my birthday this week, I also got given two new books, both, coincidentally, by Anne Enright:
Making Babies, her memoir about pregnancy and motherhood and Taking Pictures, a collection of short stories. I finally finished The Gathering and while I felt a little unsatisfied at the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, and it made me want to read more of her work. Having heard her speak, too, I knew that she would be the perfect person to write an antidote to the What to Expect When You're Expecting/the First Year type baby books. I will definitely be reporting back on that one.

So I have all these new books beckoning to me, but first I have to read
Petropolis by Anya Ulinich as I think I can reveal that she is one of the authors on the session I will be chairing at the Christchurch Writers Festival in September. The programme is being launched on Tuesday, so I'll reveal the others anon.

Oh yes, I understand Rachael.

And then Dunedin-based crime fiction writer,Vanda Symon, Overkill (2007) and the soon to be published The Ringmaster , who has often written on her book buying affliction penned this succinct ode that says it all and posted it yesterday on her website:

The Case of the Missing..

book piles.

Conceded defeat.

Purchased another bookcase.

Piles gone

For now...


Anonymous said...

Hi Graham

There must be a lot of us out there. I think I inherited the affliction from Dad. I tried to resist it and made a pact with myself that I would only buy books that I would need for reference or would want to dip into again, or that the library didn’t have. Recently my son and I got as far as taking the books down from the attic thinking we’d be able to sort them and maybe dispose of at least some them. Big mistake, it gave us even bigger piles of books that we fool ourselves we’ll be reading in the near future.

On the bright side – one does manage to read through an amazing amount, it’s just that the books keep being published at impossible rate.

Best wishes

Vanda Symon said...

Now that you've given it such an official sounding name, does the fact I have CBBD absolve me from all personal responsibility for my purchasing (-:

Anonymous said...

Another happy addict here!
And, there must be something in the air: I've just about completed 'The Niightmare' which'll probably be found at Huia Pubblishers' site quite soon. It begins:

'Everyone who's visited my home knows my living room has four walls of books. And if they get upstairs
(infrequent) they'll be greeted by another 3 walls that are shelves of books. Use my loo, and you cant help but notice the 1000 (or so) books on fishing shelved beforehand..."

Kerryn Angell said...

Maybe we should start Book Buyers Anonymous?

Hi, my name is Kerryn and I'm a book buying addict.

LiteraryMinded said...

Like you Beattie I get books free for review as well as countless titles across my desk at work (Bookseller+Publisher). I was lucky enough today to come across Rachael King's book (paperback forthcoming in Australia) and I was most intrigued. We have systems and I wasn't able to just whisk it home but that's probably a good thing as my to-read pile is ENORMOUS, and includes all the books I am ALSO reading for my honours thesis...
And I also still can't help myself in bookstores.

All in all, I relate :-)