My Convertible Life

Thursday, June 23, 2011


They say that admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery, so here goes.


My name is Cyndi.

I am a bookaholic, a binge-reader. And it's causing me to lose my mind.

Last Saturday night, instead of going to bed at a reasonable hour so that I could have the energy to get up at 6 a.m. with my children while we let the Daddy sleep on Father's Day, I stayed up late reading. Actually, I stayed up until 2 a.m., plowing straight through to the end of my book. Captain Saturday by Robert Inman. Nothing was wrong, I just couldn't stop reading.

I've probably been like this ever since I started reading Morris the Moose Goes to School at age 4.

Before I knew it, I was devouring The Chronicles of Narnia, Nancy Drew and The Bobsey Twins, the Anne of Green Gables series, Little House on the Prairie and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms.

Then it was lots of Judy Blume and some of these favorites, followed by every one of the Sweet Valley High books (which I borrowed from my friend's collection a couple at a time).

At some point in high school, someone loaned me copies of The Handmaid's Tale, Bonfire of the VanitiesSkinny Legs and All and The Cider House Rules -- it was like feeling the power of the ocean for the first time and realizing that backyard swimming pool wasn't so refreshing after all. For my senior English class, there was Heart of Darkness and The Metamorphosis and plunging into Hermann Hesse's Demian and Narcissus and Goldman, then Ibsen's plays like A Doll's House and Hedda Gabbler -- that was the year I decided to be an English teacher.

In college, I didn't have as much time for "pleasure reading" -- but being an English education major meant I got to read plenty for classes. Rediscovering American classics like The Scarlet Letter and The Great Gatsby, finding whole new territories in One Hundred Years of Solitude, wandering into the amazing North Carolina writings of Kaye Gibbons, Clyde Edgerton and Lee Smith, taking women's studies lit-based classes with A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, Madame Bovary and Tracks.

I also dated a boy whose parents owned a bookstore (I may have had a harder time letting go of them and their shop than I did him) -- they introduced me to more Margaret Atwood, Tom Robbins and John Irving plus Doris Betts, Michael Lee West, Robert Inman, Ferroll Sams, Alice Walker, Barbara Kingsolver and more.

Once I started teaching, there was even less free time to read, so I spent my summer breaks diving through the high school reading list -- The Bluest Eye, Ellen Foster, A Raisin in the Sun. When I left teaching for Wales, I read the British versions of Bridget Jones and the first three Harry Potter books while I learned all the local lingo.

I've always consumed books as much as I've read them -- but it seems that the less time I have to read, the more likely I am to binge once I start. Which makes me afraid to start a book. Which makes me afraid to put it down once I start. And so the cycle continues.

More recent reads include Water for Elephants (which I finished early on a Sunday morning while plying my children with cartoons), The Help (which I practically swallowed whole while abandoning my children to friends at the beach), Lift (which I read sobbing on the beach while my husband entertained the kids) and the first two books of the Clockwork Dark series by my friend John Bemis (book three should be out soon!).

And of course, there's Anne Lamott -- one of the few non-fiction writers I've really followed, starting with Operating Instructions (which, if you are a mom or plan to be one you absolutely MUST read). Oh, and there's always David Sedaris, too.

Clearly I could go on and on. And on.

So you tell me... are you able to read just one chapter a night? or do you find fiction impossible to put down? And what titles are the ones that kept you up until the wee hours? Not that I need help staying up too late, mind you, but I'm always up for suggestions.

Note: If you're planning to buy books, please go to your local independent bookseller. If there's not one in your area, you can borrow mine -- Quail Ridge Books and Music will let you order online, send you a confirmation from a real live person, and ship your books straight to you.


  1. I'm definitely one who will stay up late into the night. My most recent reads -- Bill Bryson's At Home (superb nonfiction), Room (creepy but good), Bossypants (burned through it after naptime but before bedtime, ignoring my child completely), and currently I'm about to pick up Jasper Fforde's latest One of Our Thursdays is Missing. Oh how I adore Jasper Fforde and highly recommend him to any bibliophile (start with The Eyre Affair).

    Honestly, when I can't pay attention to my child due to a good read, I just remember what a great role model I'm being. ;)


  2. Wait til your kids are old can read while they read! Today my 9-yr-old had to be directed back to the car from the door of the library, her nose was so buried in Roal Dahl. Love it! Best bad habit EVER!


  3. I have this problem.
    I am SO sleep-deprived, yet will sit there in bed readingreadingreading until I literally fall asleep mid-sentence.

    When I am engrossed in a book, I will sit there on the couch with my kids tearing the walls down around me, completely oblivious. I MUST FINISH BOOK.

    i Love love love that you linked to a local bookseller. We have an independent book store in town, and I love going there. You can name a few books you like, and the ladies there dash around the store pulling wonderful finds that you're bound to enjoy.

  4. You have to start reading Live to Tell. Just woke up at 445 am to finish it. (you know I do not stay up late for hardly anything...except Bridesmaids:)

  5. I read obsessively once I start. I've been reading non-fiction which is too boring to even admit, but have you read Bliss, Remembered by Frank DeFord? It was just so fun to read that I was sad when it ended.

  6. I am terribly bad about reading, but once I pick up a book my house could be engulfed in flames (I audio-booked this on the way to Chicago) and there's a decent chance I won't even notice. I plow as much as I can before my eyes involuntarily shut for the night. And I always, always miss the characters at the end. Except "This is Where I Leave You" which I thought was kind of lame.

  7. My worst parenting happens when I read a fiction novel.


But enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think about me?

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