Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bibliophilia: 12 Surprising Reasons Why I Have a Love Affair with Books

My husband and I just celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary last week.  
But I confess, I also have another love.  

Here are the top 12 somewhat surprising reasons why I have a love affair with books. Books...  

1.  Give You Power:  Knowledge is power and books are filled with knowledge.  When I have an issue that seems to rob my power (relationship issues, IVF, the adoption process), reading about the issue or how other women dealt with it helps me to feel more in control and better able to make informed decisions.  Fortunately, no matter what problem you have, there are always a hundred self-help books about it.  Unfortunately they usually have conflicting advice.
2.  Allow You to Be a Detective:  You can learn a lot about your friends and acquaintances by checking out their bookshelf.
3.  Make You Seem Intelligent: I was at a dinner last week when someone made a comment about John Galt.    I'd already felt super proud of myself for having made it through Atlas Shrugged -it's as long than the Bible- but at that moment, I felt incredibly intelligent -or at least well-read- at a table with 3 surgeons.  
4.  Are Portable:  I rarely go anywhere without a book in my bag.  So I carry a larger handbag, but they're in style anyway.   This habit is leftover from my days riding the T in Boston.  Public transportation without a book is a no-no.  Which leads me to the next reason....
5.  Increase Patience: Books make any wait pleasurable.  Long line at the post office or dentist? Friend running late?   Not a problem, I brought a book.  I can wait patiently.  And me being more patient- that's a BIG deal. 
6.  Build Character:  Memoirs give insight into other people's lives.  Reading about other people's tragedies and triumphs fills me with empathy, gratitude, and inspiration.  And as a bonus: they can simultaneously satisfy one's inner voyeur.
7.  Are Colorful Home Decor:  Our loft is filled with books that are arranged by color (a tip I got from a decorating magazine years ago.)  Being surrounded by books makes me feel at home.  And comforted.  
Disclaimer:  Color coordinating your books makes it a challenge to locate a book.  You have to remember the color of the spine.  NOT easy.
8.  Enhance Connection:  Although I've only ever been a book club drop out (too many books, too little time to read what I want to read) it was fun to connect with the club members for those first 2 meetings.
9.  Are Hangover Free Mood Enhancers:  When I am feeling down, getting into bed (or into a bath) with a book provides a temporary escape from my problems.  
10.  Provide Hours of Entertainment:  This year I decided to track my bibliophilia.  Since January 1st I've completed 21 books and have read over 6486 pages.  Yikes!  That's a lot of time I could have been cleaning, working, or perhaps doing something others may consider more "productive."  But I'm okay with it.  The words fill my mind and nourish my spirit.  What's really more productive than that?
11.  Are Inexpensive:  You can get them for cheap at the Goodwill or free when you swap with friends or visit the public library.  I mourn being able to go weekly to the Boston Public Library.  Now I frequent bookstores (so soothing) and rarely leave without a purchase (not so soothing).  In fact, as I type this I'm at Borders.
12.  Are A Side-Effect Free Sleeping Aid: I read every night when I get in bed.  It makes my eyes tired and helps me fall asleep.  Otherwise I lie there thinking, thinking, thinking...... 
So, what to read? Getting book recommendations is the best.  I love when friends pass along their favorite reads.  Please leave a comment and let me know what books you've enjoyed and which ones have left their mark on you.  I've done the same for you below.

Here are my favorite reads so far from this year.   
1.  The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs.  
2.  Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
3.  The Other Bolyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory
4.  The Help by Kathryn Stocket
5.  Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
6.  Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolff


  1. it is so fun to see your favs!
    "the help" keeps popping up in peep's hands/
    i'm so curious!
    (& i thank you DEEPLY
    for the encouragement
    you offer me
    from the book of YOUR LIFE).
    LOOOOVVE!! xox

  2. Great post! I use goodreads.com to track my books and friends'suggestions, etc. Favs from the summer: The Red Tent, Kite Runner, Thousand Splendid Suns, and on a much lighter note...I finished the Sookie Stackhouse novels this summer too (yes, from True Blood). I'm now starting The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. Can't wait to see more suggestions!!!

  3. Agree x 12! I heart books right along with you!! I'm only at 13 (and a half) books for this year, but that's all while being super productive and not taking many days off! :) Still gotta work it in! Viva la Borders!
    (PS: Happy Anniversary!)

  4. I agree Kathianne! I can't seem to walk into a bookstore without buying something - my fav store is the brookline booksmith over in Coolidge Corner. I had to laugh when I looked closely at the first photo in this post and realized I have 3 of the same books : ) And i totally agree with the above post, Kite Runner was an amazing book (especially for a first time writer!)

    I tend to be a non-fiction reader, so here are a few I love:
    *What is the What by Dave Eggers
    *Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen & David Relin
    *Strength in what remains by Tracy kidder
    *Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff
    *American Dream by Jason DeParle
    *Underground Economy of the Urban Poor by Sudhir Venkatesh


  5. Oooh...I love #s 1&2. OK, really #2. I thought I was the only one who did that!!