dear readers. Today’s letter might be entitled “Confessions of a Book
Dear Dr. Jim,
I hope you can help. All my life I’ve been an avid reader; I began
reading early (around eighteen months, according to my mother, who
claims I would “goo-goo” some semblance of the words on the back of my
baby formula cans) and soon realized that books would be my vice.
During elementary school my grades suffered (all but English class)
because I had my nose stuck in various works of fiction rather than in
the appropriate textbooks. Oh yes, I endured the usual kinds of verbal
bullying from my peers: “book worm” and “four-eyes” (my vision weakened
by endless hours of night reading by flashlight beneath the covers).
None of this bothered me much. My love for books brought more than
Now, though, as an adult, things seem to be getting somewhat out of
hand. I’m single and without a family of my own (no time for such . . .
do you know how many new books come out every year?) and seem to be
having difficulty remaining employed at any one place for long (many
bosses, sadly, do not share my appreciation for fine literature . . .
especially when I’m enjoying it during working hours). My bills often
go unpaid, and my interpersonal relationships are . . . well, I don’t
have any relationships worth mentioning. I’ve tried putting the
proverbial “cork in the jug” regarding books, but nothing works; I hide
books from myself, take boxes of them to Goodwill (only to chicken out
before I get there), promise myself I’ll only “use” on weekends, and
have even considered some sort of inpatient treatment. Can you help me?
You are not alone. When I was a
child, kids in my school nicknamed me “Wordsworth.” Mind you, none of
them had ever read a word of Wordsworth, but since I was always
scribbling original poetry onto notebooks and even scraps of paper,
someone thought it might be funny. At age six, I wrote this poem on the
back of a Double-Bubble wrapper:
So good to taste
So fun to chew
you can see, my gift was
recognizable quite early in life. When I was lonely, books. When I felt
afraid, books. When the other kids were blowing up neighborhood
mailboxes with cherry bombs . . . well, I sometimes helped with that,
but mostly it was books. Fear not. Many struggle
with this and similar issues. Groups can help by sharing their
strength, experience, and hope (try BAA: Book Addicts Anonymous).
Granted, these meetings can sometimes slow and even stall when everyone
in attendance has their noses stuck in books, but it might be worth a
try for you. You might also consider . . . I’m sorry . . . wait a
moment. Oh, please forgive me, Book Worm, but I must cut this letter
short; the doorbell is ringing, and I think it’s a delivery from
I’m Dr. Jim . . . and I’m
listening . . .
When not writing this column,
Jim can be found compulsively overworking at
www.ProdigalSong.com and www.jameserobinson.com.