A Shameless Desire

A sampling of my books bought for research

When plotting the original version of Aroon, my main characters were coming to South Carolina as indentured servants. But why? What would provoke two teenagers to leave their homeland, family, and friends–basically all they had ever known–to make the perilous voyage to America?

For that, I needed to know what was going on in Ireland in the 1760s. I did what I normally do in such circumstances. I bought a book.

That’s right. I bought it: The Course of Irish History by Moody and Martin. Hey, it was the paperback version.

I might as well make a confession right here and now. I have an addiction. Um, that’s too harsh a word. Let’s call it a proclivity. Yeah, I like that better. (My husband says the word addiction is not harsh enough.)

I tend to be a practical sort. I wear my shoes until it is a humiliation to be seen with me in public. The same with my clothes. I have one pair of pants that actually got caught up in the axle of an airline’s luggage cart on a rainy tarmac in Providence, Rhode Island. I still wear them today. (Land’s End knows how to put together a pair of pants!) Virtually all my jewelry are gifts.

So perhaps I should be forgiven for my need and greed for books. The only stores I like are book stores. I relish the earthy smell of a paperback as much as the slick, almost chemical, scent of a textbook. When I treat myself to a trip to Barnes and Noble or Books-a-Million, I roam the store snatching interesting titles from the shelves. Then I find the comfiest chair available and eagerly pore over my choices. Rarely–maybe never–have I left without buying at least one book.

I love online bookstores, too. Ah, Amazon! One of my daughters asked why we kept getting so many Amazon boxes in the mail. “Shut up,” I told her, and ripped open my latest treasure.

I know there are free libraries; we have a lovely one in my town. But I like to own the book. You never know when you’ll want to re-check the information you find. I gave some away, but then decided I needed those books and bought new copies.

Academic books cost too much, so I have taken advantage of the university libraries in our state. But if the book comes in paperback and is under $25, I order it. Come on! It would cost that much to drive at least one hundred miles round trip to the University of South Carolina in Columbia. That’s how I see it, anyway.

There. I’ve confessed. I guess all I can say is thank God for used books!

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