A meal of books

There are worse things than a book binge.

Chocolate, say, with its after-guilt. Or gambling with its high price.

Books are relatively affordable, and it's a good thing because I'm gobbling books to no end.

It started last month with a journey to Powell's Bookstore in Portland. Thanks to a gift card Christmas, I filled two bags in less than an hour.

This week, at Mari's Books in Yachats, I celebrated their newly expanded shop with an armload of purchases.

And then I hit the blogs. One site led to another and . . . Quick as a box of donuts, I gathered poet discoveries —Susan Rich, Alison Stine, Adrian Blevins — and rushed to buy their books. Like a sugar high, I felt giddy with new material. Each phrase engaged, every tangle of words offered layers of meaning and meat. New worlds! New words! I examined, analyzed and gorged.

I align myself with Jeff Gordinier, who confesses to being a poetry shopaholic, declaring that in a world of mass market, big-name publishing, "buying a book of poetry constitutes a gesture of resistance."

"It's a tiny push in the opposite direction," he says, "a pipsqueak of peaceful defiance."

I have no guilt in my reading investments; I'm supporting the underdogs of publishing, writers who toil away with no substantial reward beyond the act of expression.

Still, I'm a realist. Next week, I'll give my wallet a break and hit the library. When I do return to buying, rather than collect books on a shelf I will read and regift, passing along my latest finds to family and friends. Or donate the books to the local library. Good books, like good meals, are best when shared.