It became abundantly clear to me at 3 a.m. this morning that I am an addict. I am a junkie. I’m not talking about drugs or alcohol; I’m talking about books. Not necessarily a printed one on paper. I’m perfectly happy with a something on my Nook. But I NEED a book to read at all times.
This all came to me in the darkness. I couldn’t sleep so I picked up Elin Hilderbrand’s “The Castaways”. I didn’t want to read it, but this was the only book I had brought with me to my parents. Yes, I have a Nook at home which is full of at least 30 books that I have yet read, along with at least another 50 or so that I have (and of those 50 at least 20 would be worth reading again if I had nothing else to do). I don’t know why I decided not to bring it with me (maybe I was fooling myself and thinking I would not be here for very long.)
Once I finished “The Castaways” I would have nothing else to read. Yes, there are books in this house. I have read most if not all of them. Some of them multiple times, which is why I was not ready to re-read Kristen Hannah’s “The Things We Do For Love” for the fifth time (at least).
(While I am on the subject of Kristin Hannah, I have enjoyed some of her earlier works including “The Things We Do For Love”, “On Mystic Lake”, “Magic Hour” to name but a few. However, her more recently works, like “The Great Alone” or “The Four Winds” are just depressing. Yes, they are more cerebral, and I have nothing against that, but for me nothing resonates. They lack the heart her books used to have, which is a real bummer for me.)
You know I finished “The Castaways”. Then I laid there in the dark knowing that there was nothing for me to read. The thought gnawed at me. Sure, I could get drive out the next day around 10 or 11 and hit the closest Barnes and Noble. There was no doubt I would find something there. But what would I read before then? I’m up before 6. The newspaper doesn’t get here until late in the morning. I NEEDED something to read. I NEEDED something specific; something light, something relatable.
I didn’t need a “beach read” exactly, but something that might be good to take to the beach. I wanted something comfortable for me; be it a mystery by Diane Mott Davidson (why is she not writing any more “Goldy” books? I miss them!) or Sue Grafton (I wish the alphabet could have continued to the letter Z…I miss her writing so much) or a suspense thriller by Stephen King (“Later” is probably going to make my top 10 list this year), Riley Sager or B.A. Paris or “chick lit” (for me that term covers more than just beach reads) by Dorothea Benton Frank (another author who is so missed, but her daughter Victoria is doing a wonderful job in carrying on her mother’s memory and I’m looking forward to reading her first novel), Mary Kay Andrews (“The Santa Suit” is waiting on my Nook at home), Jennifer Crusie (I prefer her solo novels and I understand she now lives somewhere in MY state…maybe I need to hunt her down and ask her to write a follow up to “Welcome To Temptation”?) and of course Elin Hilderbrand. Where do you find something like that early on a Sunday morning?
I knew what I really wanted was not a NEW book, but a used one. All of the physical books that I have read this year have come from the thrift shop where I volunteer (including “The Castaways”). I don’t take many (because I have the Nook) and I always return when I finish so that someone else can enjoy. I wanted was a slightly used (pages that had been turned down, the smell of ocean water and maybe even some sand), definitely loved novel. That’s not hard to find, but I wanted it RIGHT AWAY!
So, what did I do when I woke up this morning, I got dressed and went for a drive. I was in search of a Little Free Library. There are plenty in my town; I see them all the time when I go out walking. There is a Little Free Library website with a map where you can find ones that people have registered. There were none registered in my current area. (That doesn’t mean there aren’t any…it just means no one has registered it to the website.) I know there is also a trend to just leave a book on a park bench (often wrapped in a plastic Ziploc baggie to keep it safe from the elements). I’ve seen that on my walks too. So I slowly drove around and you know what I found? NOTHING!
That’s not to say there isn’t anything out there. I’m pretty sure there is. And I will mostly likely find one or something out there if I go walking later today. (It’s pretty cold out there now and I did not bring a winter coat.)
However, being a book “junkie” what I ended up doing is going to Acme (which is the closest grocery store to my parents) and finding the aisle where they have a few magazines and books. The pickings were not great. I did not want a bodice ripper. (I do enjoy a good romance, but I’m not in the market for that kind of book now.) What I ended up with is a “new” (published 2020) Mary Higgins Clark, written with Alafair Burke. Yes, I know Mary Higgins Clark died that year. How much is her and how is Alafair Burke (or someone else), your guess is as good as mine. It’s not what I was really looking for, but it is what will carry me through today, and hopefully tomorrow. (I’ll have less time to read on Monday as I will be working.)
You can bet I will not ever come back to my parents’ house without a fully loaded Nook. And I’ll be sure to bring my charger with me. Additionally, as soon as I can get back to “my” thrift shop I’ll hit the book section and I’ll leaved armed with enough books to read on the beach this summer or any time that I’m visiting in case my Nook fails me. I’ll read each one, but I won’t bring them back to the shop this time. I’ll leave them (wrapped in Ziploc baggies) on benches on the beach, on the bay…just around. So that if a fellow “addict” is searching, they will find. Because no one should be without a book when they need it.
Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For more than seven years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog.