book mania

When I’m having trouble writing (which, yes, I am having today. And yesterday, and for about five days now) my mind skitters around like a rat in a maze.

Usually one little thing will lodge in my head to distract me from working on what’s wrong and fixing it. I am very aware when this happens. It takes huge effort to stop the avoidance cycle and get back to work. Often the thing that I obsess about instead of writing has to do with books.

LibraryThing, which is wonderful in so many ways, enables my book mania. Or maybe I should say it launches my book mania into the stratosphere. There’s something about wandering around a thousand libraries that puts me in a hypnotic state, until I focus on one book.

This weekend that book was War and Peace, which I saw on one list or an other. (Longest novels? Novel with the longest names? Novel everybody owns but nobody reads?)

Well, I read it. A long time ago, but I did read it. And, here’s where the mania comes in: it wasn’t in my LibraryThing library. Which means I had to trot off and try to find it and figure out why it wasn’t in the LibraryThing library. Except I couldn’t find it. Somehow I lost Leo Tolstoy, and I never even noticed. He may have been missing for years, and I went on blithely.

Obviously he must be replaced.

Now the real problem: which edition?

You can’t just order any edition of Tolstoy. Asking Amazon for War and Peace, you never know what piece of poorly translated dreck they’ll send you. What you need is, a recommendation from somebody who knows Tolstoy really well. And I happen to know a scholar of Russian literature who fits that bill… except where is her email address?

You see? The chase is on.

Even after I settle on an edition (in this case the 1942 Simon & Schuster Inner Sanctum edition) I still have to find one. And I have to find one that is in fairly good, but not collectible shape. However, I do want the original bookmark that came with this edition, because it has all the names of the characters on it in order of appearance.

It’s off to abebooks to see if I can track a copy down for a reasonable price.

All of this takes time, you must realize. Lots of time. Time in which I could be delving into the stuckedness of the chapter I’m trying to write.

So I found Leo (with the helpful bookmark) and I paid the ransom so he’ll be delivered here to sit on a shelf in my library. Right there, on that spot, between the Norton Critical edition of Mansfield Park. And now I have to forbid myself any more glances at anybody’s library for fear I’ll notice some other book I’m missing. And back to to work.