Confessions of a wayward book lover

Posted: October 16, 2007 in Blog

For a guy whose book-filled boxes are weighing down basement floors across the land I left behind, it was probably unrealistic to expect I could go through seven months here without accumulating more heavy, suitcase-burdening books.

I tried to hold off, really I did. During the first month I read the two books I brought with me, borrowed a couple more and even swapped for one at the hostel I was staying at (which turned out to be an out-dated collection of columns written by a British politician. A real page-turner).

But then cracks began to show. I could only read newspapers and old magazines for so long. I was talking more and more with people who were recommending books– often books written by journalists who have worked in Africa, or books by African authors– that dealt with what, to me, were often new and fascinating topics.

So I bought a book. It was just a small fella. Paperback, even. Easy to find room for in a suitcase (because once purchased, I do not give up books easily).

Then I bought another. This one was a bit bigger, a bit heavier. But so good.

Then another.

And now another.

I now have a small, and growing, pile of books in my room that stare at me guiltily like a pack of cigarettes owned by someone who promised himself he’d quit smoking.

I’ve spent nights lying under my mosquito net reading about a Polish journalist’s life in Nigeria, days in the sun reading about a West African boy’s life, afternoons in cafes reading about Rwanda in the 1990s, evenings by the light of a kerosene lamp reading about Congo around the same time and now a book detailing the jaw-dropping history of how the Democratic Republic of Congo actually came to be.

There are worse things to be addicted to, right?

  1. Ryan says:


    I feel your pain. I have had a big pile of must read before buying new books for sometime now and yet it continues to grow.

    worse things to be addicted to include:

    Internet porn

  2. Stefanie says:

    Why not read-a-book-trade-a-book? Just note down the ones you loved in your notebook. You can definitely find them here later on.

  3. cmason2 says:

    Stef, two things:

    1) Stop being so practical.

    2) You are vastly underestimating the degree to which I am territorial/possessive about books once I get them.

  4. Kevin says:

    Why not just take pictures of the covers? You can create a very nice collage and hang it above your bookcase. That way you get to keep them, without any of the weight in your luggage.

    Think of the books as transient memories you’ll dream about years in the future, or gifts for people who are suffering from this affliction, too.

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