I know better than to let myself go to the library too often. The result is always the same. Only sometimes my professors assign research papers for which I am required to read books.

 Tonight I went to pick up two books on Tanzania for my paper which is to prepare me to spend time in that country. Like any sensible person, I started with the online catalogue and jotted down three titles that looked promising.

 On my way to acquire said titles, I decided to look up Evelyn Waugh, whom I’ve been wanting to read, and grab a couple of books by him. As I wandered the stacks with my list of call numbers, it just so happened that I passed through the section on Orthodoxy. Had to grab a couple books there. While searching out the books by Waugh (a process which requires much squinting back and forth between shelves and lists, because most of the spines have let their titles fade and you can only read the stickers with the call numbers), I saw a bunch of books on Tolkien and took about half of them.

 This inspired me to drag my armful of books back to the catalogue station and look up books by Barfield, Weil, and, just for the heck of it, Gogol. After writing down the call numbers for every title under each name, I began to see the magnitude of the stack before me and of the list in my hand, cramped though my handwriting has been. “Fools,” I said to the eager dwarves of learning, “I should want hundreds of years to bring it all up, were I fifty times as big and Smaug [the librarians] as tame as a rabbit.”

 Thereupon I checked out the books already in my possession—two Orthodox books, two Tolkien books, and four Waugh books. Oh, and I didn’t get three books on Tanzania. I got four. And I brought the list of other titles with me, so that when I return the books I have I can go through the same process again.