What Is Your Obsession?

The Night Bookmobile Book CoverAs I was shelving in our Graphic Novel section the other day, I stumbled upon The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger.  Now I already knew that this book existed so the title wasn’t new to me, but this was the first time I had seen it in person. Being an individual of the librarian persuasion, I was compelled to pick it up. I found myself standing there in the middle of the first floor and reading the entire thing from cover to cover. Which, because it’s a graphic novel of less than 35 pages, isn’t really as daunting (or lollygagging on work time) as it sounds.  I then put it back into its display holder and walked away to continue my book shelving duties.  But on my second pass I picked it up again. I put it on my truck and knew it would be coming with me.  But why?  I had already read it. Why was it still calling to me?

Just to give you a brief synopsis without giving away the ending, a young woman out late at night stumbles across a bookmobile. She enters and discovers that every book on every shelf is one she has read at some point in her lifetime. They are ALL there. Her children’s books, those noteworthy classics she ‘tried to read’ as a teenager, college textbooks, magazines, cereal boxes, even her own diary. Then it’s dawn and it’s time for the bookmobile, HER bookmobile, to leave. She becomes obsessed with finding this bookmobile again. Her late night wanderings to locate it cause her boyfriend to think she is seeing someone else and drive him away.

During the long years between its appearances, she reads voraciously to add to her bookmobile’s collection. Reading becomes her obsession. She reads to please the librarian that drives her bookmobile and wonders if he is proud of her choices. She reads to the detriment of her personal relationships. She decides to become a librarian. (Loving to read, by the way, is not the best reason to become a librarian. We deal with people more than books.) Her whole life becomes centered around this obsession to read more books and to become a librarian on her bookmobile.

This book spoke to me on a number of levels. First, the woman was able to revisit her life by perusing her reading history. It made me think about the different kinds of books I have read during the different stages in my life. There are many I would like to revisit. Did my stage in life affect my reading choices, or did what I chose to read affect each stage in my life?

Also, the woman’s reading fixation caused me to stop and think about my own personal obsessions. What have I been obsessed with in the past?  What am I fixated on now that is affecting other parts of my life? What have I lost or overlooked due to my passion for something else?

And now I ask you – what does your reading history say about you? If you were to revisit all the items you had ever read, would there be a discernable pattern? If someone else were to peruse the shelves of your personal library, what ideas about you as a person would they walk away with?  Would they know you better than someone who had met you in person?

What is your obsession? What do you over-engage in to the detriment of everything else? Is it sports? Television or movies? Video games? Food? Shopping? Having to be right all the time, or the first/best?

What have you sacrificed for your obsession? Your friends? Family? Relationships? Career? Taking care of your own self and well-being?

Was it worth it?

-Melissa M.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “What Is Your Obsession?

  1. I wonder if one of Niffenegger’s obsessions is librarians, between this book and The Time Traveler’s Wife… ;-)

    (More seriously, the reason for my comment was my admiration of your sneaky link embedding. Lovely work!)

  2. Charlotte

    Melissa, I loved your essay on Eleventh Stack. It gave me so much to think about in my own life, and came at a perfect time for doing that. So, unfortunately, I will not be writing a response. Instead, I’ll be thinking, thinking, thinking about my own life and my reading history, which started pretty early and I can still remember books I loved as a child (am I really such a narcissist? or is it my advanced age?) and writing another chapter of my “memoirs” based on your essay and questions. Thanks. Chachan

  3. Sylvia

    When I was a child, my life was not so nice. Thank goodness I had books to hide in and to provide a make-believe life for me. I think they may still be doing that, and I am in my 70s. Books and reading them are not an obsession for me. They are an integral part of my life. I feel wonderful all over, just thinking about reading. In fact, gotta go now, my most recent library book is calling to me.

  4. Charlotte (again)

    Your blog, Melissa, made me remember with a stab of clarity, those long ago days when I was a new bride and not working out of the house yet. After my husband left for work, with the table still cluttered with toast and butter and jam and plates with egg stuck to them, I would pick up a book (I remember, in particular, James’ What Daisy Knew), and when I finished it, say, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I would look up, surprised to see the table still cluttered from breakfast. Reading does that to you, you know. It makes you forget the reality around you. You can get “lost” in a good book.

  5. My husband bought a copy of that book for me from Phantom of the Attic. I loved it too.

  6. Bonnie

    My mother always accused me of reading things below my level–I would sort of leapfrog ahead of what was appropriate/expected and then stay there in that comfort zone for years. There would be an embarrassing number of Babysitters’ Club books, and a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction. I think about that sometimes, just questioning the value of the things to which I choose to devote my time.

  7. Amanda

    It was all worth it.

  8. Amy

    It’s always worth it.

    Amy // artsyrockerchick at aim dot com

  9. JKR

    My personal library over the years would be completely random, with a huge chunk missing from my teenage years since I thought I knew everything and stopped reading. Thank goodness those days are over! Currently I suppose my reading habits are as odd and eclectic as ever, from Drawing books to Creativity Guides to Science Fiction, Suspense, and How-Tos. The majority, though, would probably fall into the Animation category, since that is my personal obsession. I could talk about it for days without stopping. Probably why I do the cartoons at FredtheMonkey.com all day every day.

  10. Colleen

    Reading is a refuge and a compulsive obsession. I flunked out of college the first time I went in large part because I would stay up until past dawn to finish a book. It was never a book assigned for class. When in elementary and high school I would read up to three books a day as an escape from life. I still read two or three books a week and I still have a hard time putting down a good book, but I also have a life.

    All in all though, if I had to pick an obsession/addiction reading would probably be one of the best. I don’t think I’d join “reader’s anonymous” even if it existed. With a good book you are never alone.

  11. Pingback: I Challenge You! | Eleventh Stack

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