An ode to reading and books.
  1. My name is Chris Kubica, and I am addicted to books.
    649adf3b 519a 47e9 9964 daacdbcc291b
  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.
    50b55123 1c2c 4666 8170 a245c009677e
  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.
    E702a267 84cd 4418 bdb1 b78348544f25
  6. Not too long after that, I bought this Edgar Allan Poe collection at Jerry's Tobacco and Bookshop in Appleton, Wisconsin.
    D26588a3 f8b0 416d 8a5a f5135ab80657
  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.
    A25da9d4 9605 4880 9a2e 966a7027b0fb
  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.
    E5927273 9f43 459e a85d bbba2b8066cb
  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.
    B92bb8e3 2da0 4529 b289 7564ed99a95c
  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.
    326fb859 7973 4d02 a9c3 f06e3707dbd6
  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.
    000c9660 e478 41a8 b3ff 67b642803359
  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.
    70df865a cd03 4b49 bb1d cc5d62f66232
  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 but...it 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.
    837bb16f 162f 4ec9 96e6 9b1492660fde
  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.
    95a476b1 fe3b 49bd 8104 ca9dc51a70d4
  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.
    D61e7edb 29cf 4c3e b0d0 5c5b874406de
  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.
    97e7f751 4e79 4ad2 8bd6 90409c38b18a
  24. Or this. The CODEX SERAPHINIANUS. One of the oddest and most spectacular and visually-stunning books ever printed.
    Cbaf266c 84b6 4139 99a0 0efad7975fbb
  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)!
    Aac27666 2ccd 4131 aa93 618afcfe2fe5
  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.
    A0a26c57 0ffa 4092 954f 9bafcc7823f7
  28. I love books. I love everything about them.
  29. I love reading them.
    174350c9 30b7 4c4c 918c ae6b6534ed8e
  30. I love surrounding myself with them.
  31. This is what my nightstand looks like right now.
    312ffdec e38c 4f5a 89cc 84ebaffff8fb
  32. I often fall asleep mid-read and drop the book I am holding right onto my own face.
    86b10cbd bdcc 4ca1 8837 2d7f5ece54bd
  33. My name is Chris Kubica. And I am proudly addicted to books.
    67c62714 c893 452f b6b3 54e4efa13316
  34. Are you?