the problem with books

With all this book banning bullshit going on in the US these days I thought I would take a moment and throw my two cents in on this. Naturally I, like everyone else on this subject, believe my two cents is worth more than most but maybe as I am a clinical psychologist and a research scientist I may have something to say which is worth hearing or dare I say, listening to.

Those in power banning books are looking at the issue of books all wrong. Probably nothing too shocking there, but why am I saying that?

Those who would ban are looking at what should or should not be banned based on content and that is all wrong. I grew up in a house being one of two avid readers, my mother being the other, and I read whatever I wanted. I wasn’t allowed or not allowed I was simply left to make my own choices and beyond occasionally having to explain to my brothers or my father why I would want to read something I was not assigned or otherwise required to read, I was pretty much free to come and go from the library or bookstore as I wanted.

That is where the problem started.

First my grades improved, which was bad enough, but then my tastes broadened, and before I knew it I was reading more nonfiction than fiction and buying more books than I could possibly read (or so I was told) and fighting for storage in my small bedroom.

I’m sure those of you out there understand my plight for it is not just my story.

First you read for fun, you know hanging out with some friends at a restaurant or library, next thing you know you are sneaking books into your suitcase or backpack for vacations and family trips, spending all your time in a corner nose buried in a book about the lingering world legacy of colonialism and not “having fun” with the rest of the family.

They didn’t have coffee shops back when I started but when those little dens of horror were invented my reading habits really just accelerated. An avid reader, in a comfortable chair surrounded by large varieties of bohemian literature and geeked out on coffee? Yeah no good could possibly come of that.

To make matters worse every book I pick up and stick my nose into leads me to others I not only must read but am now honor bound to purchase. My home office has so many books in it today I can barely clear enough of my desk off to place my keyboard and write this little piece.

But it doesn’t end there, oh if only it did. I buy books everywhere and all the time. I have five coming from different online retailers as I type right now. While I do prefer the mom and pop independent book store, I am sorry to say many of my purchases over the years, and a couple of those on their way to my house right now, have come from the online mega dealer, amazon.

garage sales, thrift shops, swap meets I buy them from everywhere, the older the better. I like first additions, but what I really look for are not just books on psychology, mythology, and philosophy but the books the people I read have in their own libraries. What I think of as the original thought books.

While in grad school to my horror I discovered my campus library was downsizing. I lamented with my lender Louise about the injustice and I am not too proud to say tears did flow from all eyes that day

but then she said words I could not believe, honestly I still can’t. I asked her what would become of all these books, believing them to be headed to the main campus in San Diego, “the ones we don’t sell I guess we will have to donate…..”

“What? You are going to be selling these books?” I asked for clarification eyes dry and focused, “How many books are we talking about here?” I had a limited budget and even more limited space. The apartment I rented after the divorce was microscopic in scale, but I did have a spare room for my kids to sleep in when they were with me. and they don’t come that often, I could build some shelves out of reclaimed wood or maybe just stack them really neatly…

“About a third I think,” was the answer I barely heard over my mental logistical planning.

“A third of what?” I asked.

She waved her hand out before her like Moses parting the Red Sea. “A third of everything, maybe a little bit more. I’m still waiting for guidance from main campus.”

My mouth and my credit score dropped significantly that day.

Not to bore you with the rest of those details but needless to say I bought roughly half of that third. Some first additions, some absolutely wonderful copies, some utter crap, but I did buy them all. All I could anyway. I offered to buy them all but their asking price was ridiculous and honestly I couldn’t stand them laughing at me when I called and made the offer.

but you know how it goes, right? I mean that’s why we are all here, isn’t it?

to get sober?

anyway my name is Michael and I’m a bookaholic…..would anyone else like to share?

I think it goes without that I am against banning of books and this was a tongue in cheek rendition of a story I have actually told many times. Please do what you can, where you can, to stop the banning of ideas and words and information. Even, perhaps especially, that which you don’t like or agree with. Variety is not just the spice of life, it is the source of the beauty of our world. Let’s not limit that beauty, shall we?

Ban Fascists, save books.

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