It is impossible for me to simply like something. Okay, so that last sentence may have been an exaggeration. What I mean is, my amount of liking things falls on a spectrum, with “Partial” in the middle, sandwiched between “I CAN’T STAND THIS” on the left and “THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER” on the right. That being said, I am the type of person who is vulnerable to obsessing over things I really like. It is not enough for me to merely “like” something. I must dive into it headfirst. I must let it overpower me and consume me and spit me back out. Maybe it’s to give my life meaning; maybe it’s to give myself a reason to be embarrassingly weird. Either way, I obsess over things…a lot more than I should.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t just like a movie. I had to own the figurines and act out the scene that was playing on the TV in front of me. I would be surrounded by my movie-specific dolls, moving the dolls exactly how their characters acted on the screen. Then, I would make my parents act out the movie in an effort to direct the scene I had just seen.
And then, at age five, I learned to read.
Growing up, I devoured every book I could find. I solved mysteries alongside Nancy Drew, rode on the backs of the unicorns of Balinor, empathized with orphans and their unfortunate events, and attended a school of witchcraft and wizardry.
As my world view grew, I somehow balanced my passion for reading with my passion for pocket monsters (of which, of course, I had at least fifty figurines!). Add drawing, playing the clarinet, and swimming to that list. When the Angst Fairy slapped me with her dark-brooding-soul-because-this-is-who-I-am-wand in my teenage years, I discovered my new passion of writing, which eventually became the dominant passion, following me and growing with me.
In my last semester of college, I wondered to myself if there was a website with the sole purpose of keeping track of how many books I read.
That’s how I discovered Goodreads. That was when my passion for reading became an obsession.
Beginning in August 2013, I embarked on a journey to remember every book I have ever read. I scoured my memory and racked my brain retracing the steps to my past.
While I have been successful for the most part, I know that I will never truly be able to remember every title or every cover. This is a minor annoyance, though I rationalize it by the age or context of the environment at the time of my having read the book in question.
I looked back and remembered the books I read in 2012. In 2011. In 2010. Every series, every anthology, and every standalone novel or chapbook was remembered and counted as a Goodreads point. I have questioned my mother on countless occasions if I have read this book or that book; I counted even the tiniest of books I read as a child. Increasing my Goodreads number became addictive; I had found a way to count my stats, like a video game. It seemed as if I somehow gained a level for every point.
With this logic, I found old books from my childhood that I do not remember reading, or those of which I had yet to finish. And I read them, and I checked off the appropriate amount of stars.
I then developed my own set of “Goodreads” rules to keep my number “accurate.” I would never not rate a book I’ve read. I would not set any books as “to-read” or “currently-reading.” Only ratings would appear on my activity feed. I would review books as professionally as possible (I have partially alleviated this part).
Oh, and I don’t like numbers that end with 9 (probably a remnant of getting 89 on a test!), so I try not to have a total that ends in 9.
And, yes, I know I’m obsessed. But I love it.
Reading a book takes me on an adventure, and Goodreads helps me turn it into a productive activity. My entire life, I was told to “always be productive;” this deep-seated notion puts me in a state of constant worry that I waste my time if I engage in abstract activities. Goodreads provides a way for the books I read to “count” for something concrete that accompanies my passion for abstract adventure.
Sometimes I need to remember that I am more than the number on my Goodreads account. But, I guess there are worse things to be addicted to.