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Confessions of a Readaholic

readaholic 2It may not be Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Puzo’s Godfather, Rivers’ Mark of the Lion Series or Crichton’s Jurassic Park  but I’ve come to a point in my life where from experience, I can determine that even though a book has not received rave reviews or is not authored by a popular person, it can still qualify for a great book. I am a readaholic and I’ll like to think of this space as my own version of AA- Alcoholics Anonymous. You see, I woke up one bright sunny day and decided frankly and unpleasantly that I am a very weird specie. It was a difficult decision to reach, that is why I have constantly questioned the validity of that abasing thought. So here I am: confessing. I am about to hang up my dirty linen at the risk of scathing public glare. But I have to do this; I have to confront myself. I mean, is it not weird that on a very languid day when others are out visiting or shopping or seeing a movie, I find it very comfortable reading through my secondary school Physical and Health Education textbook? Or poring over an old cook book that contains only foreign recipes? Or again, relishing the science articles in Jehovah’s Witness’ pamphlets even though I am not one of them? Beats you, right? Well, beats me more!

So let’s get into the 411 of me: I am intoxicated by the sights and sounds of a bookstore — yes, those air-conditioned havens sprawling with tomes and paperbacks. A bookstore to me has that surreal tang of newness and sage-hood mixed delicately with a bit of paradise, and if you ask me, the only thing that comes that close, is a library; with its time-tested volumes and sedate ambience. Ah, but you see, bookstores are not the only places I can find books that make me tick. Indeed, those roadside stands, whether at Iyana Ipaja or Ojuelegba are brimming with books, from magazines to political commentaries to “For Dummies”. At these Lagos road sides, I can also whip up a John Grisham or Danielle Steel for ridiculously low prices and I can exchange an old novel, sorry, vintage novel (*wink) for another vintage novel. You see, I don’t only know these resourceful book stands, I also know the Igbo boys that man them (Goddy and Chuks and Obinna to mention a few) and they know me back because they are quick to hail, “Customer!” the moment I as much as walk by. These guys, they have mastered the art of coaxing me into buying at least five books before leaving their makeshift stands and I give in so easily because I am a readaholic (Please don’t tell my dad that that’s where all my pocket money went, back in secondary school!). I have to admit here on Linda’s blog that when I’m with a book, I feel like I’m in love. It’s reminiscent of the Rebecca Bloomwood craze, if you know what I mean.

Actually, I have a habit of finding good in every book – like a girl teenager does her crush (nothing he does is ever bad; all his actions only make him more attractive!). When Non-Readaholic says, “That book is too technical. I slept off after the first page” or “I didn’t get the idea of the article. Seemed like Greek to me” I’m there thinking, “You have to be joking. I totally enjoyed and understood every page of the book. The author is soooo good!” Needless to say, another habit is talking to myself in public — I’m either mumbling to sample how a character’s name sounds in my mouth — or conversing with a book I’m reading in a public place where you can hear me say, “No way!’ or “Oh my God!” as I flip through those arresting pages.

As a readaholic, I’ve done some real terrible stuff: I’ve sneaked a book away without the owner’s knowledge only to have it fall into mud! (Please, don’t ask me how I confronted the owner afterwards). I’ve lied that I already returned a book just because I wanted to read it again for the third time! I’ve pretended to finish a 600-page novel in 24 hours just because I wanted to preserve my reputation of being a fast reader! I have lied that I have read books I have not read (well, they all expect me, being a readaholic to have read them!) Countless times, I have stolen chips or fried meat or chinchi — anything to munch on while I’m reading! I have been so carried away by thoughts of a novel that I almost got hit by a car only to thoroughly cuss out the driver for being negligent! I have lent out books I did not own to other readaholics just so that I can later on bask in the thrill of a book discussion with them. And when I lend books to non-readaholics, my hope is to lure them into my cerebral community of weirdos where we egoistically regard ourselves as the repositories of knowledge, as interpreters of all that is scripted, as lovers of novelists, poets, playwrights and academic researchers and finally, as the non-readaholic’s last resort when they are on the hot seat at Who Wants to be A Millionaire! But guess what? We’re none of that. We’re just book-afflicted souls.

bookwormLet me now borrow from Pidgin English and say, “this matter for ground, e tey wey e start o”. Deep inside however, I know that I am not alone. There are many of you out there who totally connect with my weirdness. Go ahead and share some of your idiosyncrasies. For others who are thinking, who is this readaholic nut-head?, please spill it out or, share any encounters you’ve experienced with a readaholic that annoyed the heck out of you. Perhaps I’ll be challenged to get my act together and become a better readaholic or I would just throw caution to the wind and accept “weird” as a good word– you know, as a message from the Maasai to simply be me. *wink*. Just one piece of advice though: a good book is always a good thing. It takes you to realms you thought utopian and stands you out like integrity in a corrupt Nigeria.

I’ll like to thank Linda for giving me this opportunity to release. It has done me good like therapy.

NB: Readaholic is a fictitious guest blogger.

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