Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Book Problem

My name is Katie, and I am a bibliophile.

The first step to fighting an addiction is to admit that you have a problem.  I'd like to blame my addiction on genetics.  I come from a long line of bibliophiles.  In fact, both my father and my father-in-law have the same affliction.  What?  You say it's impossible to inherit traits from your in-laws?  Clearly you do NOT have in-laws, and you don't know what you are talking about.  I speak from experience.

An retired attorney, my father made a living out of words.  Spoken words were always woven into impenetrable logic, meant to foil a wiliest witness on the stand or his teenage daughter when caught sneaking in past curfew.  Written words are to be read and collected, especially if they come in form of his favorite topic: WWII.  My father's personal office is essentially a libary, with shelves of books practically surrounding his desk.  The wall with the window has been spared such a fate, but, it could be just a matter of time before curtains are no longer needed there.  I know I don't help matters with his addiction.  From me he receives at least three books a year as gifts.  Sorry, Dad!

Then there's my father-in-law.  A professor by trade, he clearly took the "publish or perish" mandate to heart.  Not only has he written several texts (unintelligible to me beyond the fabulous titles, such as Fossils, Teeth and Sex), he simply cannot resist a bookshop.  Just ask my mother-in-law.  She gets the special honor of carrying all of his spectacular finds during their jaunts around the world.

I arrived in Greece on Tuesday, June 14th.  Today is Saturday, June 18th.  Count 'em.  Four days.  Yes, four. In the past three days I have bought at least one book at every place we have visited that sells books, like museums.  I don't really want to stop and count the number of museums I've been to so far; it's a little bit embarassing.  Perhaps it will sound less incriminating if I speak of my book purchases in terms of weight as opposed to number of volumes.  No, that would actually be worse.  After all, I am limited to 50 pounds in my suitcase when I board the plane to Turkey and ultimately back home.  When I departed the U.S., my bag weighed 45 pounds.  Oh dear....

The people I'm traveling with are total enablers.  I will not be able to count on them to help me with my plight.  They are, after all, nerds like myself: teachers.  Here is how nerdy we can be: yesterday, on the bus ride between museum stops, three of us engaged in a lively discussion about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  These people are also book collectors.

You might think I can catch a break during the "academic portion of the day" of my tour.  (Much of our trip will consist of academic sessions as well as cultural tours.)  On the contrary, we are given complimentary written materials everywhere we go.  Colorful manuals about the Gods and Goddesses of Olympia; Greek/English dictionaries; brochures about Fulbright; non-fiction texts written by Greek lauriate authors.
 I will be touring Greece and Turkey through July 17th.  Good lord, that's a month away.  Maybe I can impose some self control.  Maybe I can enlist the assistance of in my efforts to control myself by writing down the ISBN number of any luring titles, and hitting "Buy with 1-click" from their website.  Maybe I need a professional intervention.



  1. I am loving reading every detail of this blog! I think you not only inherited being a bibliophiles but your grandfather’s talent for writing and storytelling! You make me want to revisit Greece! I am sure not much has changed in 23 years!

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