Hi, my name’s Mike Crowl, and I need to confess that I’m a bookaholic. I don’t have any control over this - it isn’t helped by the fact that I have to work in a bookshop. My life has become unmanageable. Well, it’s not my life so much as my bookshelves – they’re unmanageable.
Can I blame them for my condition? Oh, I can’t.
I’m told that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity, but the problem is, I’m sort of working for that particular Power, because it’s a Christian bookshop…
So it’s His fault. Oh, I can’t blame Him either.
Apparently I’m supposed to turn my will and life over to the care of God - as I understand Him. Hmm, according to what I do understand, He’s infinitely superior to me in every respect, so I only understand a little bit of Him. No excuse, huh?
I need to make a searching and fearless inventory - of my bookshelves. This should be fun! Oh, you mean I need to do it now, not when I’ve finally read all the books. Actually I may not read them all – I’ve only just caught up with one I’ve had for thirty years.
I have to admit to God, and myself, and to another human being, the exact nature of my wrongs. The trouble is, that the bloke I share my shop with is a secondhand bookshop dealer, and he’s even more of a bookaholic than I am. My wife reads books; my Aged Parent reads books (some of them several times over); my children read books. Oh, what shall be done with me, wretched man that I am!
Am I entirely ready to have God remove my defects and shortcomings? Does this mean I have to send all these books to the local secondhand dealer? But I work with one!
So I need to make a list of all persons I’ve offended by lending books to them? Does anyone remember who they lend books to? Shouldn’t I be asking all my friends why they haven’t given the books back to me?
I’ve got to make direct amends to such people where possible? Have I got to pay them for borrowing my own books off me?
Right, so I need to make a personal inventory. Right, so I spend several weeks putting all the books on my computer and then I’ll know who’s borrowed them. Oh, I don’t think I’m quite getting the picture here – and I’m not sure how some of this stuff is helping me with my problem.
Okay, so I’ve had a spiritual awakening as a result of following these steps, and tried to carry this message to others…but, just a minute, if I tell them I’m a bookaholic, will they still buy any books from me?
Maybe I need to join a different group – like a monthly book reading club.
This piece was originally intended for the column in the NZ Anglican magazine, Taonga.