Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More Books, All the Time

Does anyone else out there have the problem that there's always a pile of books (in fact multiple piles of books in various places), and you're always in the middle of reading a few of them, and when you go somewhere (like out shopping, or on vacation) you can't just take one book with you, but you have to take two or three (six or seven on vacation), and you never get to the bottom of the pile because you've purchased more before you've read through the pile, and you have to manage the pile, because there is the pile of books you've bought, and the pile of books you've checked out from the library, and you're trying to read a balance of books from the various genres, not tooooo much theology, at least a little bit of poetry, peppered with some fiction and here and there a bit of popular non-fiction for good measure, so you constantly re-stack and re-consider and re-organize and re-prioritize?

And not only do you have all these books you're reading currently, but your favorite part of every newspaper and journal that you read is the book review section, so that on Sunday morning you pull the book review section out of the NY Times first and read it while brewing coffee, and when you get, say, First Things or the Christian Century, you read all the book reviews first, and your spouse even subscribes to book review lists from Powells and the like?

What exactly do we call this ailment?


  1. And during polite conversation with people who are on vacation or somewhere in the same room with you, you find out that they don't read books at all, just like you don't watch tv. Then what?


  2. The Joe Queenan had a fun essay in the Times Book Review about why he couldn't stop starting books. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/06/books/review/06queenan.html

    By the way, here are my lapsed Lutheran questions of the month: Jesus' parables and teachings were largely figurative, though he got into hot water because the powers that be took them literally. What if, and in what ways are/could Christ's resurrection and awaited return are meant to be figurative rather than literal? Furthermore, given the conflicts created when religious practictioners adopt literal interpretation of scripture, how is one to separate the figurative from the literal commands? Lastly, it seems that religion is powerful in part because it reminds us that God operates beyond our understanding of the physical (and literal) world, why are we often compelled to shoe horn God's teachings into earthly, human, and flawed rules of logic?

    Happy summer, see you in Oct?

  3. I have good "practicing" Lutheran answers to your questions, and I'll take them on one at a time as blog posts.

    Yes, we're going to be at homecoming in October.

    I'll also give hint/brief answers to your three questions:

    1. Faith hinges on the resurrection being actual, not figurative. If Christ is not raised from the dead... (1 Cor. 15) Confusing parable with gospel is a confusion of literary forms.
    2. It is not an issue of literal vs. figurative, but rather of 2nd order discourse vs. direct address.
    3. Because God has attached God's promises to earthly things like the Eucharistic meal, baptism, the history of Israel, the oral proclamation of the forgiveness of sins, to name a few.

    I'll provide more thorough working out of these in the next few days.

  4. Bibliomania.

  5. The term bibliomania is used to describe an obsessive-compulsive disorder involving the collecting of books to the point where social relations or health are damaged. One of several psychological disorders associated with books, bibliomania is characterized by the collecting of books which have no use to the collector nor any great instrinsic value to a genuine book collector. The purchase of multiple copies of the same book and edition and the accumulation of books beyond possible capacity of use or enjoyment are frequent symptoms of bibliomania.

    Bibliomania is not to be confused with bibliophilia, which is the legitimate love of books and is not considered a clinical psychological disorder.

    Other abnormal or condemned behaviours involving books include book-eating (bibliophagy), compulsive book-stealing, book-burying, and book-burning.

    * Mel Gibson's character in the movie Conspiracy Theory suffers from bibliomania, making him buy a copy of J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye every time he goes outside his apartment.

  6. I lifted the last comment posted here from Wikipedia. Christopher, are you sure I have bibliomania? :)

  7. I don't know what you call it. But as I have read your post, I have promised myself that I will declare a moratorium on the purchase of new books until I read more of the others. Huh?...oh wait a minute.....

    "Yes dear, I'm ready to go."

    ....sorry, I'll finish this later, we are off to Barnes and Noble for a coffee and some light reading. Wish me luck!