I went with Braunbeck to Barnes & Noble tonight. While he eagerly ran from shelf to shelf, scouring the titles for thing he'd been dying to read, I could barely stand to look at the offerings on the shelves.

I grew up in a household of bibliophiles, and when I was a teenager, a trip to the bookstore was one of my favorite things. The bookstore was like a wonderful smorgasbord of entertainment and edification, and I was always eager to save my pocket money for whatever latest novel I could find from my favorite authors.

But all that's changed. I read all day as a part of my work. Endless screens of Web pages pass through my brain.

And lately, I've felt a little queasy just going near a bookstore. It's the kind of queasy you feel when, after you've eaten way too much of an American-supersized dinner at a restaurant, the waiter wheels out a cart of monstrous sweets to try to entice you to spring for dessert.

I have dozens of books at home I've been meaning to read for years. I can't justify buying Another. Single. Book.

Yet there they are, hundreds upon thousands of books on programming languages I can't comprehend, poets I've never read, classics I've never cracked.

And, on another level, I'm staring at the hundreds upon hundreds of books and realizing that, someday, if all goes well and I get a novel published, it will be but a slim, easily-overlooked volume on those overfull shelves.

Those rows and rows of fresh reading now look like Mt. Everest in a blizzard: forbidding and impossible.

I don't like feeling this way. I should dislike the sterile stink of hospitals, or the smoky grubbiness of dive bars ... but instead I dread the bibliocopia of bookstores?

I hope this is just a phase.