is there such a thing as too much shakespeare?

I’ve loved booked ever since I can remember. I love reading them, being around them, owning them. I can get completely lost in a book to the point that I entirely tune out the world around me. (Really. Try talking to me sometime when I’m reading. I won’t even know you’re there.) When I was growing up, I was never without a book. If I needed to walk from one part of the house to the other, I did it while reading. I was pretty good at navigating around things while keeping one eye on the words.

Just being around books makes me happy — even books I would never read. I could spend an entire day in a bookstore, just looking at books.

The trouble comes in when I start looking at everything, and I see all my favorites and they make me happy and I want to buy them and take them home, even if I already own them. And I have to remind myself that my copy at home is just fine. I really don’t need another one.

I went through this period a few years ago where I would haul in boxes of books to Half-Price books in a misguided attempt to reduce clutter in my life. It was difficult because I want to keep every book I ever read. And now, I feel book naked. I look at my bookshelves and think, but I’ve read way more books than this! I’ve bought so many more books than this! I know, I’m a little unbalanced when it comes to books.

I have a particular weakness for old books. I’m not really sure why. The older they are, the more they pull me in. I was at this used bookstore on Saturday and it was great with a loft and a windy staircase to the basement and cats.


I was very tempted by Shakespeare. Shakespeare always does me in, even though I rarely read him anymore. I think he brings me back to my college days, when I got to spend all of my spare time entrenched in reading things and writing things — a literary heaven.

So, there I was, standing there, looking longingly at the shelf, even though I already have several different copies of the complete works of Shakespeare. Really. Plenty of copies. But this one was from 1866 and it was so pretty. I do already have a copy from the late 1800s that I picked up in London, but it’s in pretty bad shape, so I could use another one. On the other hand, this book was $100. It seemed a little crazy to spend $100 on a book I already have several copies of. But I really wanted it.

In the end, I resisted, but did pick up a fairly old collection of Poe. Sure, I have Poe too, but not in this collected form. I don’t think.

I used to read Poe as a kid and he scared the hell out of me. I didn’t even know he was this old, classic author. I devoured any book I could get my hands on, so it would be like Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew, The Tell-Tale Heart. I was so surprised when I found out he wrote poems! And was dead!

I don’t have as much time to read anymore. Too many others things to do, and reading seems like an unattainable luxury sometimes. I sneak in my reading time at the gym. I’d like to make it a point to read more, but it seems like a frivolous goal when there are so many others things I should be doing.

I’m really tempted to go back and get that Shakespeare though.

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