Monday, November 5, 2007

OverReaders Anonymous

While surfing the web I came across the blog for New York Stories, an English language bookstore in Stockholm, Sweden. It's an interesting look at the doings of a bookstore carrying new titles. One of their clever promotions is to offer enrollment in their "ten-step" OverReaders Anonymous self-help program, with book prizes for the OverReader of the Month and benefits for all enrolled OverReaders, such as bookstore discounts and reserved seating at literary events.

Here is the clever New York Stories OverReaders Anonymous program:

Welcome to OverReaders Anonymous

Becoming an OverReader is easy! While most addictions are helped by a 12-step program, only 10 simple steps will prepare you for a happy & fulfilling life as an OverReader.

New York Stories 10-step program for diagnosis as an OverReader:

O Cultivate an Obsession with books and the places they are found: bookshops, libraries, book fairs, flea markets, car boot sales, the bookshelves of your friends and families.

V Variety is the spice of life. Understand that an OverReader will (and must!) read whatever happens to be at hand: the backs of cereal boxes, random flyers found on the bus or subway, 10 year old boring magazines found in the dentist’s waiting room, good literature, bad literature and everything in-between!

E Adopt the wise words of the Dutch humanist and theologian Erasmus as your motto: ”When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

R Read entirely too much. Refuse to define ”too much”.

R Realize that you are powerless over your bibliophilia. Let it control your life.

E Enjoy your role as an OverReader and take pride in being a bibliophile.

A Make receiving the ”OverReader of the Month” Award one of your primary goals. Once you have won, nominate a fellow OverReader!

D Desire every book you see.

E Embrace your Excess need for the written word.

R Remember to support your local independent bookshop

– New York Stories!

Are you already an OverReader? Take this test created by Tom Raabe, author of ”Biblioholism” to determine the level of your addiction.

  1. When you go to a bookstore with a friend, are you usually carrying more books when you leave than your friend is?
  2. Do you wake up the morning after, unable to remember how many books you bought or how much you spent on them?
  3. Do you, inexplicably, yank down a volume from the store shelves, open it, and shove your nose deeply into the binding, hungrily inhaling the ink and paper smells?
  4. Have you ever bought the same book twice without knowing it?
  5. When you go into a bookstore after work, thus arriving home late at night, do you lie about where you have been, telling your spouse you were at a bar?
  6. At Christmastime, do you buy your loved ones books that you want to read?
  7. Have you ever given up on a book before you started it?
  8. Are you unable to walk through a mall without stopping at a bookstore?
  9. Do you have a personal library on an entire subject, none of which you have read?
  10. Do you ever buy books simply because they were on sale?
  11. Have you ever bought a book because you liked the cover design?
  12. When at a garage sale, is the first thing you look at the books?
  13. Have you ever been fired from a job, or reprimanded, for reading?
  14. Have you and your immediate family ever ”discussed” your book-buying and reading habits?
  15. When you watch TV, do you always have a book in your lap for slow parts and commercials?
  16. Do you ”watch” television sports with the sound off?
  17. Does panic set in when you find yourself in a barber’s chair or at the salon with nothing to read?
  18. Have you ever suddenly become deeply interested in an obscure topic and immediately bought six or more books on that topic?
  19. Do you ever lie about how many books you’ve bought?
  20. Do you devise grand and devious strategies for getting your books into the house to avoid your spouse’s or family’s scrutiny?
  21. Has your book buying ever embarrassed your family or friends?
  22. When a stranger walks into your house or apartment, are his or her first words usually a comment about your books?
  23. If someone asks you for a reading list of the twenty most influential books you’ve ever read, do you happen to have such a list on your person?
  24. Do you have at least six books next to your bed?
  25. When a bookstore clerk has been unable to locate a certain book in the stacks, have you ever been able to find that book?

Count up the number of yes answers. If you answered yes to more than four questions, you are looking down into the deep and woeful pit of biblioholism. If you answered yes to more than eight, you are hanging by your fingernails on the edge, your legs kicking in the emptiness and your eyes imploringly turned heavenward for rescue.

Congratulations – you are an OverReader!

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