Thursday, January 12, 2006

hello, my name is Heidi & I'm a romance novel addict

I've suspected for some time now that this might be the case, but after today, I'm sure.

Weeks ago, I made arrangements to meet some people at the local library, then never gave it another thought. Until this morning when I was getting dressed & realized I was practically vibrating with eagerness.

Why? What was so special about today? Nothing much. Don't tell them I said this, but it wasn't meeting with this group of people that had me worked up. I wasn't loathing the trip, but I wasn't particularly looking forward to it, either. It was just one of those things that needed to be done.

And then it occurred to me: I was going to a library. I would be in a big room full of books. Yep, that was it. The minute I thought it, my stomach gave a jolt of excitement.

I didn't even check out any books while I was there, but still I made a point of arriving several minutes before the others in my party so I would have time to wander through the shelves, touching spines & looking to see what was new. What had I already read? What was I hoping to read soon? What had I not realized was out?

This, I believe, is a clear sign of book addiction. You know...if the piles & boxes of books cluttering my house almost to the point of having to move out wasn't enough of a clue.

I buy so many books, the people at my local bookstore set aside titles they think I'll like or new books by authors they know I love. I would rather spend money on books than clothes, shoes, movies, music... My day can suck, but if I come home with a new book or even have a chance to sit & read for a while, I consider it a success. When I'm in a bad mood, if I stop to read a chapter in a book I'm enjoying, it can actually put me in a better mood. A book "fix," if you will. And I need it, or I start to sweat & get the shakes.

So when did this addiction start? Many people who suffer from the same affliction may not know when their love of books went from a casual interest to a full-throttle physical might have sneaked up on them, & before they realized it, they were the proud owners of thousands of books & a TBR (to be read) pile the size of the Eiffel Tower.

But I know exactly when & how my addiction began. It was the summer between graduating from high school & leaving for college. All through junior & senior high, I'd been reading romance novels, only I had to do it secretly because my mother didn't approve. (It should be noted that she didn't disapprove of romance novels, per se, but of her 13yo daughter reading them. And I'd gone straight for the good stuff--Catherine Coulter, Johanna Lindsay, etc. :-))

So for about 5yrs, I was sneaking around to get my romance fix. Then, when I turned 17 & was getting ready to start college, my mother suddenly informed me that she didn't care what I read. I was officially old enough to choose my own reading material.

Yippee! Whahoo! Glory be! From that moment on, every time we went shopping, I came home with at least one romance novel. By the time they packed me off, I had a nice size box of reading material to take along to college. And even tho I'd promised my mother it wouldn't happen, I often read romance novels instead of studying. On the night before my first year finals, I stayed up late to finish a historical romance...& that was the moment I decided I wanted to seriously pursue writing myself.

So that's how it began, this little addiction of mine. First, I wasn't allowed to read romance novels, then I was given free rein to buy & read as many as I liked, & now it's gotten completely out of control. There's this tiny spot in my brain that tells me I need to buy, buy, buy. I need to own every romance that comes out, even if the chances of reading them all in my lifetime are slim to none. I'm never without a book, never without the niggling thought of "What will I read next?" And for me, there's nothing in the world like seeing, touching, skimming, reading a good book.

If I'm addicted, so be it. But please don't send Dr. Phil to my house yet. I like my addiction & I'm definitely not ready to be rehabilitated anytime soon.

Heidi Betts
Seven-Year Seduction (Silhouette Desire #1709)--February 2006
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MaryF said...

I'm the same way - just got 6 new books today, and I already have a TBR pile of about 150 books. My addiction started in childhood, though, when I couldn't take a road trip to CA without my entire collection of Trixie Belden books. Never knew how many I could read, doncha know.

Alfie said...

I'm an addict, too. But, dang. Lately it seems I'm just collecting them. What happened to my reading time???

gailbarrett said...

I have been addicted to reading since childhood as well. We weren't allowed to read during meals when I was growing up, so of course that's what I do now (unless I'm in a restaurant). Sometimes the "need to read" gets so bad that if I'm out at some event, I can't wait to get home and back to my book. This scares me -- that maybe I prefer fiction to real life. Also, I can't fall asleep at night unless I've read for awhile first. And if I haven't had a chance to read all day I feel DEPRIVED. If I don't have a new book to read I will reread one from my keeper shelf -- sometimes the same one dozens of times. I'd guess this is a true addiction. Unfortunately (or maybe not) my oldest son has inherited it.

Annalee Blysse said...

I buy so many that I have never been able to keep up, but the clerks don't know me.

Colleen Thompson said...

Hi, Heidi,
Count me in as another book addict, not only of romance novels (which I love) but mystery, suspense, mainstream, memoirs, well, you name it. Back in elementary school, I read all the nonfiction on animals I could get. Once I'd exhausted the library's supply, I started reading fiction series involving animals, and later, my mom hooked me on Trixie Belden, too. Trixie had a black horse, Jupiter -- which was probably far more interesting to me at the time than the mystery.

I still enjoy animals, but reading has blossomed into a full-blown love affair ... and led to my own career as a writer.

Heidi Betts said...

So nice to know I'm not the only one addicted & not looking for rehabilitation. :-) And your stories all sound very familiar. I guess we all get hooked in basically the same way.

Altho, you do know who's to blame don't you? All those great authors writing all those fabulous must-have stories! And thank God they do. :-D