Guess who’s been naughty…yes, me. I cannot help myself. It’s not my fault. Don’t blame me. I think it’s actually a disease and if I were to be the one to name it, I would call it “Obsessive Book Buying Disorder.” OBBD. Mild, moderate, severe? I would rate the severity of my condition, on a scale of one to ten, an eleven. I am saving like a maniac so as to actually do something relatiely worthwhile with the remainder of 2012. I forego shopping for clothing, shoes, jewellery, food, stationery and any other imaginable necessity but when it comes to books…my responsible and very mature financial attitude evaporates like steam. I no longer have control over my thoughts or actions. I would even go so far as to say I am momentarily possessed. Books practically throw themselves off their shelves into my arms, screaming at the top of their literary lungs, “Buy me!” So really, what choice do I ever have? I am not a strong-willed person; as much can be easily deduced by taking one glance at my thighs and knowing instantly that my pledge to exercise regularly never eventuated. So yes…I’ve been naughty but blame the stupid books with their stupidly colourful covers and enticing blurbs. Blame the stupid authors for their stupid brilliance. Blame the stupid bookstore for being so stupidly homely and wonderful and irrestible. But don’t blame me for I have OBBD.
Yesterday, en route to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, I stopped with my family in Brisbane City’s West End. With the sole excpetion of Hogwarts, you cannot imagine a more magical place. The culinary aromas of every ethnicity, from Mexican to Thai, waft tantalisingly from the dozens of restaurants that line the main strip. The clothing boutiques sell a bizarre amalgamation of classy, nighclub outfits to happy bohemian ware. There are organic fruit marts, vegan cafes, espresso bars, music clubs, dinky and dingy everything stores, happy herb shops, juicers, sushi trains, psychic reading corners and burger joints. But moreso than for the this wonderful array of cultures, I love West End for its bookstore. There are two that I know of actually, but one in particular, ‘The Avid Reader’, took my breath away. Shelves teetering with the very greatest of titles, classics with colourful and unique cover designs, creative stationery and quirky notebooks, best-sellers to biographies and to top it all off, the intoxicating smell of coffee permeating the air from the cafe nook. It’s an atompshere of wisdom and creativity and leisure, nuturing other worlds and otherworldly pursuits. It is, in a word, sublime.
And this is where my OBBD kicked in. I spent an entire hour perusing the shelves of ‘The Avid Reader’ and even found myself cross-legged in front of the classics section at one point. I picked up and put down about one trillion different books and then began to calculate just how many I would physically be able to carry to the car. I went from an armful of orange Penguin classics, to a bundle of biographies to an obscure mixture of best-sellers and never-been-heard-ofs. I disrupted the entire heavenly store and will no doubt be therefore sent straight to literary hell when I die. Eventually though, I chose one. One. Shall I repeat it again? One. Let’s just take a moment to admire my awe-inspiring feat of self-restraint. Of the many marvellous titles on offer, I chose Kurt Vonnegut’s (How in the name of God is one supposed to pronounce his last name, by the way? Von-gut? Von-E-gut? Von-eh-gut?) ‘Slaughterhouse 5’.
Now that you’re all so proud of me for exercising an incredible degree of will-power, I have a confession: this morning…OBBD struck again. But I promise, it was worth it. A bloody bargain, in fact. In search of breakfast and coffee on a tiny island that doesn’t seem to care all that much about breakfast and coffee, I came across a tiny Opp Shop selling the weirdest $2 items you’ve ever seen: porcelain cats with beady eyes that suggest they’re the direct spawn of Satan, outdated wetsuits with peter pan collars and odd strips of leopardprint material down the side, cooking knick-knacks that belong in a medieval kitchen…weird was definitely the word. However, in spite of the freak factor, this little store managed to momentarily distract me from my lack of caffeine and nourishment on an island that doesn’t seem to care all that much about caffeine and nourishment. Yes, there was a bookshelf. 50 cent books, 2 dollar books, 5 dollar books. I may have actually drooled a little. For the low, low price of just $5, I exited the odd opp shop with another two pieces of OBBD evidence: ‘The Scarecrow’ by Michael Connelly and ‘The English Assasin’ by Daniel Silva. Excellent finds, if I may say so myself.
Obsessive Book Buying Disorder is what I call it. It’s a disease and I cannot be blamed for my symptoms.