Book-Lovers Anonymous

So, I have a problem. I got the chance to visit a few used bookstores in the last two days. I wanted to find a particular book. I knew I could get it over Amazon or something, but there’s something extra nice about being surrounded by shelves of books, seeing bright new pages bound next to aged brown volumes.

I was a little overwhelmed. In the first shop I filled my arms with differing novels, my eclectic tastes carrying me from a cranny full of classic titles to a nook stuffed with $3 thrillers. It was a small little store. They had a wall devoted to Halloween titles, and I picked up a few interesting short story collections. Anyway, as they tallied up my bill I was horrified to see the cost rise to twice the amount I had allotted for myself.

That was when I realized I had a problem. I wanted to grab a copy of The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis, but after discovering they didn’t have the title, I continued picking up books until I could barely hold onto them anymore. The next shop I visited was much larger, I don’t think I even saw the whole thing. After allowing myself some time to simply wander, I asked an employee regarding the book I was looking for.

She showed me the general area, and after combing the shelves, I spotted the book. This time I was prepared for the temptation, and forced myself to behave. I love bookstores and libraries, to simply amble between shelves stuffed full of stories, to go on without direction or any pressures of time, is a small paradise.

But like all things of this world, imperfect. Time has a way of imposing itself, and no matter where I went, a dreadful ticking clock was there to pull me out of my fantasies. And a little voice seemed to whisper, “You’ll never have enough time to read everything you want to.” I seem to remember part of the benediction to Ecclesiastes:

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

Ecclesiastes 12:12

So, this week I have indulged in a certain carelessness, which, though exciting, has left me with a touch of remorse. I could have gone without buying all those books, it is very possible I may even read half of them. I am glad I found what I was looking for—and happy I discovered three novels by Andrew Klavan for a pittance—but in truth, wisdom is not found in such extravagances, nor is a lasting happiness purchased in such a way. The whole ending of Ecclesiastes goes like this:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

The book I meant to purchase
The books I bought

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