Craving books like I crave dark chocolate.

I was prowling around my house the other day, looking for a book to read as I had an opening in my reading queue. I’m currently in the middle of a two month fast from book buying. My stack of unread books has gotten quite large so I’m trying to make my way through it before I indulge my obsession and collect more volumes. Which is a great idea, in theory, but it doesn’t reflect the way I actually prefer to consume the written word.

As I perused the hall bookshelves, I noticed the internal conversation I was engaged in:

“Yes, ok, I want fiction…set in England…could be historical, preferably before the First World War. Um, no one should get shot in it and all the conflict needs to be around class lines or financial or familial. Well, someone could get shot if it’s a delicious mystery. But nothing gratuitous and no sexual assault.”

I observed that selecting the book I want to read at any given time is a whole lot like choosing the food I want to eat and it doesn’t usually reflect what’s in my book stack just like my hunger doesn’t often reflect what’s in my refrigerator. I’m in the mood to read the book when I get it, just not at the moment that I’m ready to start a new one. Like, how I was in the mood to eat zucchini noodles and chicken when I bought groceries but now all I want is a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup.

On the day I was scrounging for a new read, I was craving a literary grilled cheese and – wow – did I get what I was looking for. A friend lent me Darcy’s Story by Janet Aylmer and it called to me from where I’d left it with other books friends have passed on. It’s a reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, told from Mr. Darcy’s perspective; it was everything I wanted it to be. Which was, basically, allowing me to re read Pride and Prejudice without doing exactly that for the thousandth time. Side note: I recommend the book; it’s just what it says it is.

Most of the books in my pile right now are memoir, humor, personal development (what? I don’t like the term ‘self help’, it sounds so 70’s) and a couple science fiction numbers my husband strongly recommended. These are what I like to read in the summer. My literary watermelon and bar-b-que. In the summer I want to laugh and be inspired by extraordinary lives. I like to read up on the latest happiness research and plot out ways to spend the fall increasing my productivity. But since the creation of that stack, the seasons have begun to change and popsicles don’t sound so great anymore.

In fall I want far more moody pieces, I want to read about thwarted relationships or solve mysteries. And good Lord does it make me happy if it’s set in England. My literary comfort food. In the winter I move into spirituality and fantasy and in spring it seems like I’m back in the mood for literary fiction that doesn’t have to involve British people.

I appreciate how specific I get when I’m thinking about what I want to read, like, “a strong male lead, but not a ginger, and no time travel, but there could be magical elements”. I mean, it’s totally like when I’m craving dessert and I think “I want chocolate, dark chocolate, and it should be creamy, but not ice cream and I don’t want anything crunchy in it, and if it had a citrus flavor that wouldn’t be bad, but not in the mood for almonds”.

And those are the conversations I have with myself. I’m sort of hoping I’m not the only one.

I have turned to the library during the book buying fast and it’s been pretty great. You can be that specific to the librarian and they are nice about it and don’t act like you’re a complete freak. I have to admit, I am looking forward to buying books again. We have a bookstore about a mile from my house and it’s the equivalent of a drive thru for me.

I bet they miss me.

Anyway, I’m off to peruse the pile again since I inhaled the Darcy book and I need its identical twin to complete my October. Any suggestions would be appreciated.