Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Nerd Anxiety

You may have played the game before. It has several variations on the theme: What's the worst thing you've ever eaten? What's the scariest thing you've ever seen? What's your most embarrassing outfit from high school?

Writers love to play this game. It can get really creative and cut-throat, so much more than your average game of Scrabble or Mystery Date.

The last time I played that game was with a group of writers at a conference. Someone asked, If you could only have one book of fiction to read, what would it be?

This created a stressful anxiety cloud over the group. Nobody wanted to be the one to answer first, and the game just fizzled out. I'm pretty sure it was because that question created Book Nerd Anxiety. It's not difficult to raise the anxiety level of a book nerd. All you have to do is to make them recall how they felt when they'd finished all of their library books on Monday and their mom wasn't due to take them back to the library until Wednesday. Noooo!!! My heart is racing just thinking about it. I couldn't re-read one of my Nancy Drews. It just wasn't done! Once I already knew the secret of the old clock or I'd discovered the clue of the tapping heels, it was past news. There is nothing that has lost its magic more than an already-read pile of library books!

I was at Defcon 12 with my book nerd anxiety this week. I was in the Azores on vacation with my family. My husband's parents are from there; it's a group of island off the coast of Portugal and everyone speaks Portuguese. All I can say is yes and no, and a mangled version of thank you. You may see where I'm headed with this ... all the books are in Portuguese.

And I had read all of the books that I had brought. In case you haven't yet grasped the gravity of the situation, I'll say it another way. I. WAS. ALL. OUT. OF. BOOKS.

There was rumored to be a little cafe/coffee shop on the Air Force base on the island, and my husband wanted to go check it out. The thing is, we almost didn't stay, because there was a little boy using a dead cockroach as a soccer ball. I almost didn't discover the magazine rack on the back wall. The magazines were worse than the doctor's office variety, the most recent being from 2010. Just when I was going to resign myself to reading seventy-five different ways to make a chicken casserole, I saw it. It was a bookshelf. A bookshelf full of paperbacks. I could have imagined it, but I was pretty sure there was one of those misty, glowing lights surrounding it.

Before we left the Air Force base, I made my husband go back to that coffee shop. I was on a mission. I had one of the paperbacks that I had brought with me on the trip; the one I had finished reading that morning. I put it in a prominent location on the bookshelf and left. The whole way to the airport, I imagined someone discovering it. Someone who had run out of books to read. It made me nerdily happy.

1 comment:

Jame said...

The Azores! Dude! Bring back some Kale soup!