I will be the first to admit I have a problem: I’m a book-startaholic.

That’s different than being a bookaholic. I’m one of those too. And I know I find myself in good company in an English department, working with English majors as colleagues and teaching English majors as students.

But I’m not sure that too many other people suffer from book-startaholism, which I define as the compulsive need to start new books even when you’re reading five (or ten or twenty) perfectly good books that you’re enjoying and actually want to finish.

Right now, I’m reading these books:

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And these books:

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Oh yeah, and these books too:

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And these stacks don’t include what I’m reading on my Kindle or for my classes.

I’ve always read more than one book at a time, but lately the compulsion to start new books seems to have gotten much worse.

Partly it’s the classic problem of the bookaholic: so many books, so little time. Despite research that proves the contrary, I want to believe that multi-tasking really works, so surely I can finish more books if I read more books at the same time.

Partly it’s “grass is greener” syndrome. I’m reading a lot of books I like right now, but not one of them is changing my life. So I keep searching until I find that life-changing book that I have to stop everything to finish.

Often, it feels like it takes less mental effort to start a new book than to try to re-immerse myself in a book I’ve already started.

And certainly my condition is exacerbated by my apparent inability to stop buying books. The arrival of a box of books from Amazon almost guarantees that I will start two or three new books before bedtime. And don’t even get me started on library hauls.

I have every intention of finishing at least one of the books in those stacks tonight. But those books have a lot of competition. The six new middle-grade novels I just got from the library beckon. The stack of new picture books that are already getting Caldecott buzz. The clinical textbook on attachment that I’m pretty sure contains just the nugget I need. The volume of Mary Oliver’s poetry I unearthed this afternoon. The graphic novel I borrowed from a student. Any one (or more) of those books may prove more alluring than the couple of dozen books I’m currently in the middle of reading.

Is it just me? Or do other readers also have a habit of starting far more books than they finish?


Featured Photo CC-BY Silke Gerstenkorn


2 thoughts on “My Name Is Elisabeth and I’m a Book-Startaholic

  1. As a fellow sufferer, I had to give myself an intervention this summer, Elisabeth. For almost three months, I did not buy any new books. I decided I should read at least 50 books in my house that I hadn’t read before buying another book. It was rough, but I did it.


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