An ode to reading and books.
  1. My name is Chris Kubica, and I am addicted to books.
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  2. It all began in fourth grade. At the time, I was not interested in books. I was interested in chemistry sets. And drawing pictures of guns. And torturing ants with magnifying glasses.
  3. But then I had Mr. Horan as my teacher. And he would read us books out loud. Like The Hobbit. And require that we read many books ourselves. And write stories. And book reports. And by the end of fourth grade, I had been bitten by the proverbial Book Bug.
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  4. My parents were not readers. And we basically did not have any books in the house. Except an old set of 1960s Encyclopedia Brittanica.
  5. My mom used to like to go to flea markets. And one time, I was looking around at the various junk being sold, and I bought myself my very first book. It was this dimestore, paperback-y collection of ghost stories.
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  6. Not too long after that, I bought this Edgar Allan Poe collection at Jerry's Tobacco and Bookshop in Appleton, Wisconsin.
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  7. Later, I would return to Jerry's for many other books. I was addicted to Piers Anthony's Xanth novels for a time. Jerry's was a beautiful oasis of books and magazines in a small Wisconsin town and it always smelled like a sweet, musty humidor in there.
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  8. I would also frequent Shenandoah Books (a used bookstore in Appleton) and Conkey's Books, an indy bookstore that had been around since 1895 (but is now heartbreakingly closed, killed by Barnes and Noble!)
  9. Not long after that, I was "off to the races" as an accumulator of books. FYI, as a reader of many books and of books about writing books, I realize that "off to the races" is a cliche. But that is okay. I do not mind. It conveys the meaning I intend to transmit to you, list reader, here in this bullet.
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  10. Through grade school and middle school and high school, I did not have very much money. So I would need to be selective about the books I'd buy. I'm also embarrassed to say that I would often steal books from a few local stores before the days of magnetic, loss-prevention strips.
  11. And when I was in college, I only had a limited amount of space in my dorm room in which to store books. Most of my books were back at my mom's house in a closet.
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  12. Over the years, I have accumulated thousands of books. It is a respectable library.
  13. In the years before the Internet, I would actually carry around a list in my wallet of books I was looking for. Sometimes, it would take years and years of trolling used bookstores to find the things I sought. But that was the fun of it. The hunt. And the serendipity of looking for things, but also of finding things you were not looking for.
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  14. I have never been one for rare or valuable copies of books. I'm more interested in good, reading copies. Ones that you are not scared to lose or to lend out to friends.
  15. I think it is a cardinal, deadly blasphemy to write in books, but this is just my own preference. Other people write in their books. Alas, their poor books. But to each their own.
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  16. Whenever I visit someone's home, I always look for their books. I would like to think that I do not judge people too harshly about the books they keep and display, but I'm sure I have done so. For example, if all you have is Stephanie Meyer books I...think you should branch out a bit. And if you have books I also like, I will ask you about them.
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  17. I have tried to embrace eBooks. And I have had every version of the Kindle since it was invented. But my heart will always be in paper. I am a "paper book fetishist" which sounds kind of kinky is not. It just means I am really into the feel of a book. It's cover. It's pages. The smell of the paper and binding glue.
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  18. My idea has been that I would slowly collect books for decades, reading as I go. And then at some point stop buying books and read the ones I have amassed for the rest of my life. And so I have done...I will probably not read all of the books I currently own in my lifetime. There are just too many.
  19. I have so many books that every time I move, my books are by far the largest and heaviest thing that gets loaded into the truck. I literally (double-meaning intended) have several tons of books.
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  20. I guess I always just fancied the idea that at some point I would have this amazing library and whenever I had it in mind to read of a certain author or genre or style, I would already have things at hand to do just that.
  21. And I always had dreamt about how amazing it would have been to inherit great books from my own parents. Which didn't happen because they did not have any. So I wanted to create a library to pass down to *my* kids.
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  22. And I hope my two kids see my paper books as a cherished family heirloom. And not—in the age of iPhones and eBooks—as a weighty liability to be recycled as soon as I pass away.
  23. Though I don't collect expensive books, I do have a few favorites. Like this copy of THE NEVERENDING STORY, printed in alternating red and green ink.
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  24. Or this. The CODEX SERAPHINIANUS. One of the oddest and most spectacular and visually-stunning books ever printed.
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  25. Or this galley proof of Ian Hamilton's biography of J. D. Salinger before Salinger went all the way to the US Supreme Court to have it recalled and destroyed (and won)!
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  26. Lately, I have slowed down. I don't buy many books anymore. I have most of the ones I want to have.
  27. And I don't even have much room to put more books in my house, in truth.
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  28. I love books. I love everything about them.
  29. I love reading them.
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  30. I love surrounding myself with them.
  31. This is what my nightstand looks like right now.
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  32. I often fall asleep mid-read and drop the book I am holding right onto my own face.
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  33. My name is Chris Kubica. And I am proudly addicted to books.
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  34. Are you?