becke purple~ By Becke (Martin) Davis

Note: This post originally appeared here

I’m a bookaholic – no secret there. You can find my recent reading list on Shelfari and more favorites at Barnes & Noble. Recently my friend Kelsey Browning blogged at Wordplay about the benefits of reading deprivation as a sort of cleansing process. The thought of going even a day without reading gave me chills, and not in a good way.

As a kid, I often got in trouble at school for having an open book in my lap, hidden by my desk. At home, I drove my mom nuts by sneaking a flashlight into bed and reading under the covers. If there wasn’t a book handy, I’d read cereal boxes.

Since I was the oldest child, our house wasn’t full of kids’ books when I was little. That happened gradually, as my brother and I were allowed to get books from Scholastic and Weekly Reader Book Clubs. My allowance went to Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books. Later, I used babysitting money to subscribe to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. My first “real” paychecks in high school supported my book club habit: Literary Guild, Mystery Book Club, Doubleday Book Club, the History Book Club and the Paperback Book Club. Even later, I subscribed to Harlequin, Silhouette Special Edition and Candlelight Ecstasy Romance book clubs – and more.

I also went to libraries a lot, and never left a used book sale without at least a bag of books. My husband shares my love of books, even if he’s not quite the reading addict I am, so our date nights frequently take us to bookstores – and cafe’s IN bookstores. Not a week goes by that I don’t buy at least a few books. Hell, on average, I might even buy a book a day. (My husband is nodding vigorously.) And I’m lucky enough to get books from publishers and authors, too. I have a huge to-be-read pile (we’re talking hundreds of books) in paper, and a whole lot waiting to be read on my Nook, too.

But it never struck me how much I need to read until yesterday. My husband and I were out running errands when our car battery died. Luckily we belong to triple-A, so all it took was a phone call to arrange for help. We were told a serviceman would be with us in twenty minutes or so.

Since we’d only planned on being out a short time, I had left the house without Nook or book. Well. Twenty minutes. Easy peasey, right?

Two minutes later I started to get antsy. My husband, playing with his iPod, was cool and calm. I fidgeted, watching another minute tick away on the clock. Fidget, fidget. My husband didn’t say anything, but I think I saw his eyebrows raise. Apparently, I have the attention span of a five-year-old.

I eyed my purse. When was the last time I cleaned it out? Went through the surprisingly clean make-up bag. (Yes, I travel with a make-up bag at all times, because you never know when you’ll need mascara. And a roller-ball perfume or three.) Dug a few old receipts out of the bottom and stuck them in a side-pocket for disposal later. Found a relatively new pack of gum – opening that took another ten seconds or so.

The zip pockets – rats – must have been cleaned out the last time I switched purses. Nothing to occupy me there. Then I pulled out my wallet and struck gold. Amazingly, there were five insurance cards in there, all seemingly identical.

“I don’t suppose I really need all of these, do I?”

My husband took them from me, squinting at the small print. “Some of these are bound to be old.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I said, as he put on his reading glasses. “No biggie.”

“No, now I’m curious,” he said. “You’ve hooked me on the mystery.”

A few seconds later he muttered, “Aha!” and pointed to the printing dates in tiny numbers on the back.

Huh. A couple of those cards went back 2009 – who knew?

After that I dug out three expired Garden Writers Association membership cards, a Lancome discount coupon that expired two years ago, and business cards for every hairdresser I’ve ever visited. I stuck a bunch of those in the discard pile (the side pocket of the purse). Another five minutes had passed.

I pulled out the credit cards. I was squinting at the small print on the back, when my husband laughed.

“What?” says I.

“Look at you – you’re reading credit cards!” He shook his head. “I knew you were addicted to reading, but I never knew you were thisaddicted.”

Assuming an air of nonchalance, I put the credit cards away, dropping my wallet back into the dark depths of my purse.

That’s when the triple-A guy pulled up.

Now, honestly, I don’t see a problem here. I made constructive use of my time and now have a much more organized purse.

But I’ll tell you one thing. I’m not leaving this house in future unless either the Nook or a book is in the bottom of my purse. And I never go anywhere without my purse.

I think Kelsey’s idea of the no-reading cleanse probably has merit. I’m pretty sure I’ll never find out.

Becke (Martin) Davis moderated the Garden Book Club and the Mystery Forum at until the forums were discontinued last year. Prior to that, she was a writer and instructor at B&N’s Online University and for two years she wrote a garden blog for B&N. She has written six garden books and one book about ‘N Sync, co-authored with her daughter. Becke has two adult children, two wonderful granddaughters and two cats. She has been married almost 44 years and lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park.


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3 thoughts on “Must…Read…”

  1. I’m right there with you when is comes to reading anything in a pinch. I’ve read many cereal boxes through the years. Now I carry my Ipod in my purse all the time so I can listen to books when I drive. With a small pair of headphones, I can listen if I get stuck somewhere. 🙂

  2. Tanya – I’m a night owl, but I’ve learned not to start reading a new book before going to bed. Too many times I’ve ended up staying awake until I reached “The End.” Now I put down the book and pick up a sudoku – those are fun but can be frustrating. They put me to sleep MUCH quicker than books ever did!

  3. Dear Becke, Yes! I love Trixie Belden, and I remember going to Bookland every time I had enough money to buy a new book. I also subscribed to a book service. At one point, Steeple Hill gave a free goblet for each monthly set of books. We collected six of them before my husband realized we had a whole set. I always have my Kindle or something to read. Whenever my kids are on the playground, I’m usually at the entrance with a book. A kindred spirit, indeed. And yes, I don’t consider my day complete without at least a page of whatever book I’m reading (but preferably several chapters or more!).

    Thanks for this post. I totally get it.

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