Falling in Love All Over Again : Bookworm still addicted to good prose, new authors, the literary scene--and tales of strange habits.


You know you’re an addict, as in bookaholic, when you leave for vacation with one book and return with seven, the last one bought between flights as a frantic husband tugged at your carry-on. So many books, so little time is more than a sweatshirt saying. It’s you. Since joining a 12-step program is out, writing a book column seems logical. Who better to write about books than a book lover?

It probably helps that I’m a writer, too. Hanging out with others who travel the tortuous journey from “Once Upon A Time” to “The End” never fails to intrigue me. Even nitty-gritty work habits are interesting. Imagine science fiction writer Ray Bradbury leaping from bed to his writing desk, a practice he urges on writers who want to tap into that murky right brain before the world intrudes.

Or mystery writer Sue Grafton keeping herself to a minimum two-page output before calling it quits for the day. Some writers don weird outfits, others need a familiar haven or the muse won’t visit. You wonder how certain authors manage to pour out yearly bestsellers while others take 10 years between books.

Whatever works or doesn’t, the literary world fascinates book lovers. Discovering new authors who resonate within your own psyche is like unearthing a hidden treasure. That happened when I read Mitch Albom’s account of “Tuesdays With Morrie” (Doubleday). I couldn’t put it down, then like any book junkie, raced out to pick up five more copies to hook friends.


Anticipating the latest work by a favorite author is equally pleasurable, for instance spotting Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, “The Poisonwood Bible” (HarperCollins). Or scanning reviews for anything new by Frank McCourt. After his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, “Angela’s Ashes” (Scribner), I would read his grocery list. Ditto for James McBride after “The Color of Water” (Riverhead Books).

But enough cataloging. There is more to a book column than touting authors or listing events. It’s encouraging to note that interest in the written word hasn’t died, despite predictions. But then, doomsayers predicted television would decimate the movie industry--while movie multiplexes are multiplying faster than relatives around a lottery winner.

Similarly, the literary scene is alive, thriving and expanding right off the page. Never before have there been so many ways to satisfy hunger for good writing. Big print, small print, audio books, the Internet--you name it and you can find it. Want to hear about those nitty-gritty details, too?

Catch you next week.

(Ann Shields can be e-mailed at