I joined a writing challenge facilitated by Ms. Jaq Abergas, a passionate writer, a writing teacher, and a writing coach. I met her and her sister, Jertie (vegan chef of Jertie’s Kitchen, which they own) in a vegan buffet last year, but I only started keeping in touch with her a few months ago when she reached out to help me deal with my blogger’s burnout and writer’s block.
She’s trustworthy and she excelled in her field of expertise. I poured my heart to her with a hope to bounce back into blogging and writing. She helped me assess my struggles. She’s also a vegan and advocate of health and compassion, so, I’m learning more from her. Her encouragements were cherished as gems.
Meanwhile, because of work demands last month and recent mission trip in Malaysia, I just started responding to the Creative Writers Collective Challenge this week with a very interesting prompt: “What are you obsessed about?”
Confession on Obsession
Merriam-Webster.com defines obsession as “a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling”, while Dictionary.com defines it as “the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.”
Bed weather is best for book feast. When it’s raining elephants and hippos, it’s best for words to overflow.
In response to this week’s prompt, I confess, I have more than one obsession. Haha! As a bookworm, it’s obvious that I have a reading obsession. Not everyone knows, methinks.
Books have been fascinating me even before the time I learned to read. I started with picture reading when my tiny brain can’t decipher yet the words, hence stammering while pronouncing just annoyed me. I forgot exactly how old I was when I started actual reading. But I vividly remember my delight with books even before I started going to school.
Obsession wasn’t in the picture then. I think reading and book obsession started when I laid my eyes on the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys collection of my church friend, Roan (Dr. Romina Angela Ng). She graciously lent her precious books and I thought I had the best time of my life, devouring one volume after another! I even thought I would be a sleuth when I grow up someday. I tried to solve some mysteries in school and did some minor sleuthing. Haha!
But instead of becoming a sleuth, my love for words turned into the love of writing. In highschool, I excelled in journalism, and thought I would be a journalist someday. Journaling and writing billet-doux to classmates and friends, almost everyday helped hone my writing skills. But still, I consumed more time in reading than in writing.
“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” ~ Sir Francis Bacon, The Essays
Because I finished almost all the books I could find, except the boring ones, I crave for more. My classmates shared their pocket books, but I spewed them — gross! A big No, No! for Filipino pocket books! Haha! So, I didn’t read again after trying some. I loved mystery stories the most! I crave for more, until I encountered Sherlock Holmes. He seemed real to me. I even wanted someone like him (infatuation doesn’t linger long, I’ve proven that true in this case haha!).
I was born and raised in a Christian home (SDA), and have learned how to highly regard the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy books at an early age. Albeit I enjoyed Bible stories, reading the black book had become boring in rival of the novel books I devoured.
My mother used to give a lengthy sermon whenever she caught me reading novels, but I would just shut up, and close my ear figuratively. Sometimes I would blabber back, only to worsen her disappointment. She encouraged me to rather spend more time reading the Bible, Christ Object Lessons, Great Controversy, and other spiritual books at home. It was so disgusting, it just awakened a rebellious thought in me. Later on, I sank deep in romantic novel reading. It led to an obsession, corrupting my mind, distorting my heart’s desire. But God saved me before I fell into an abyss.
I never desired The Desire of Ages until I was moved by the Holy Spirit, leading me to true conversion when I was 18. In between my childhood and teenage years, the Holy Spirit had been working in my heart. My convictions were on and off. I was even actively involved in church and church school’s spiritual activities. But I was living a double life.
Feasting on The Desire of Ages, Jesus became more real to me, and His unfathomable love made me whole. The ugliness of my sins were revealed the more I behold the beauty of the cross. Steps to Christ led me to the Way, the Truth and the Life — Jesus, My All. There were days I would wake up with tears dripping. How could I be so reckless to have spent precious hours in reading books that don’t elevate the mind for heavenly thoughts? I should have used my time wisely, feeding on the Scriptures and Spirit of Prophecy books.
I believe, our own carnal heart can’t produce the love of heavenly things unless fully surrendered to the Author of Life. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked apart from Christ. Without him, our obsessions could lead to distraction and destruction.
I praise my Heavenly Author for not giving up on me. Since I surrendered the pen for Him to write my story, my choices of books became refined.
Of Hoarding and Tsundoku
During college days, I spent most of my spare time in AUP library. But I wasn’t reading every time I visit there. Weird as it may sound, I spent some time sniffing the pages of either freshly pressed or almost torn pages of books to ease my boredom. There’s a term for that among bibliophiles — book sniffing! I know I’m not alone in that obsession. Haha!
Many times I did pay fines for overdue books that I borrowed from the library. Hoarding has a price to pay. Tsundoku too!
“Tsundoku is a Japanese word that has no direct synonym in English. It means, ‘the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piling it up together with other such unread books.’ This may be similar to being buried under a pile of unread books, which is every book lover’s reality”. blog.oxforddictonaries.com
Since I transitioned to a minimalist lifestyle last year, I also lessened visiting the book sale. I’m weak at resisting the strong gravitational pull beneath the book store. I can’t easily shun from temptation of buying books beyond my budget. Worse when I don’t have enough money! Worst when I have a lot of money (I was once an impulsive buyer)!
I already triumped in lessening my wardrobe to one-fourth of the previous amount, but hoarding e-books just stopped this year. One time last year, I purchased more than 80 e-books for FREE (inspirational books, cook books, fitness books, etc.) from Amazon in one day. I wasn’t contented with the two free e-books I get for FREE, weekly from a Christian site.
Constant moving and traveling make hoarding tangible books very challenging. So, I make it sure I get more e-books. I almost downloaded more than 100 FREE e-books from another Christian site, but I was guilty already with my hoarding and tsundoku syndrome. So, I only downloaded some which I’ll surely read. They are still on a very long queue at the moment.
This is obsession. I’m telling you now about it not because I’m proud, but because I realized that hoarding is a manifestation of selfishness and tsundoku is more about procrastination. I’m actually ashamed of this. I can’t balance priorities when I juggle reading several books at a time.
God taught me full surrender in this area. I learned more about my heart’s issues on these during our sojourn in Kuala Lumpur last week.
If you’ve read my AOY story, you know I was broke and it was a faith trip. I had no money, but God provided funds that even gave me the chance to enjoy a book sale in Canaan Land! So, even I was hoping to return for some reserved books, I learned to let go soon. “Buy only the needs, not the wants” has been my motto in shopping, but I rationalize when it comes to books. Self-denial is a must indeed!
Obsession isn’t healthy. I’m glad I realized it and would be more mindful to be balanced in everything. And with regards to my love for reading and love for books, it won’t change. I only changed with my character and the choices of books. I’ll keep improving through the Heavenly Author’s help!
I hope this blog would help you prepare for the MIBF tomorrow! Click Schedule of Special Events to be guided accordingly. Feel free to comment or ask for other concerns regarding books and reading.
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