Facing Main

Suffering from FOMOB

My self-diagnosis of a “fear of missing out on books”

I suffer from FOMOB. It’s a self-diagnosis of a “fear of missing out on books.” Some people suffer from the more general FOMO, a “fear of missing out…” exacerbated by social media with their curated and filtered posts. Sure, I too feel a pang of envy when I scroll through a photo feed of vacation photos, but what really sets me off is missing out on books. Publish a best-seller list or — and this really gets me — a summer reading list and I fall into a state of flurry and anxiety: how many books from this list could I read? And how is it even possible that I haven’t heard of this acclaimed novelist? Have I been living under a rock? FOMOB symptoms include the frequent and much to my family’s dismay: nose in the book syndrome.

When I first started to date the man who would later become my husband, he told me that he no longer wanted to go out with me if I was going to spend the entire meal with my nose in a book or newspaper or magazine. Oh, I asked. Is this rude? He laughed and said, “yes.” And my husband is an avid reader. He studied Medieval Literature in college. But I’ve long been known to have my nose stuck in a book and as a child my mother would give me a flashlight with the instructions that I could stay up as late as I wanted to read but could not wake my brother. To this day, I cannot go to bed with reading at least a page or two. When you suffer from FOMOB you can find yourself going from nose-in-the-book to book-on-your-face. It produces a wide range of effects. When my son was an infant I was actually excited to nurse him in the middle of the night because it meant that I could sneak in a few pages of book while I held him.

My nightstand at home is topped with books: ones I’m reading and ones I hope to read and some that I started but can’t finish. The walls in our house a lined with bookshelves that my husband built and, now with a toddler, those books that were once organized between non-fiction and fiction are now scattered. Before we had our child we put a bookshelf in the kitchen for our cookbook collection. Inspired by a photograph in a magazine I organized the books by color, blues on one shelf, red below, until I had a rainbow of colors. A friend who had already had children took a look at the shelf and laughed: that won’t last long once you have your baby. He was right.

One of my favorite questions to ask people is what they are reading. I take notes. There’s nothing quite like the exclamation of a favorite author with a stranger. We’re instant friends! On my recent Smith River trip I met a woman who was an avid reader as well and we spent one evening together going through her Kindle collection of titles and she then produced a list with more than 20 titles which, upon returning home, I promptly ordered all of. I couldn’t resist. That’s the other problem with FOMOB: it’s hard to resist the lure of buying books.

So, how’s my summer reading list? It’s still growing, and, yes, I know it’s mid-August. That’s likely one of my favorite parts of FOMOB: one can never read all the books.

Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.