Monday, April 8, 2013
Photo: The Rose Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library, Manhattan
I realized recently--okay, I've had this "realization" frequently over the years--that I have a book-hoarding problem. You know, like those people on the show Hoarders, who have psychotic breaks when a professional therapist, visiting the squalid house, tells them that pooping and peeing on their stereo speakers because they have too much stuff in the way to make it to the bathroom is not a normal thing? Well, I'm not that bad, as my floors and hallways are mostly bare, but I have lots of piles of books in the living room, on the table, and on the kitchen table, and in my office on my desks and chairs. I have books in seven bookcases in the house, and in about nine boxes in the garage, and in a giant bookcase in the spare office/bedroom downstairs, which has ten deep bookshelves.
If this sounds like you, these are signs enough that you have a book-hoarding problem. But here are a few more signs that you have too many books:
--You find yourself reading six books at once, and yet you still look for more things to read.
--You realize that fifteen bookcases are not close to enough to hold all of your books.
--Your reading material in your bathroom impedes your path to your "favorite chair."
--And you look forward to needing to go to the bathroom so that you can read.
--You read much more than you need to in order to research your novel or story.
--You have so many books that you actually consider opening your own free library, somehow.
--Except that you don't want anyone else reading your books.
--You have so many books that you end up getting duplicates at yard sales or library sales because you forgot you had them to begin with.
--You buy books that your friends want to borrow from you because you don't want them to read yours.
--You own every book ever written by Stephen King, and Robert B. Parker, and Jonathan Kellerman, and Mickey Spillane, all of whom have written at least 40 books each.
--You've forgotten which books are in the seven or eight boxes in the attic and basement.
--You have about fifty anthologies of short stories, poems and short novels.
--You still have all of the books you ever needed to read in college, and you majored in English and Philosophy. That's a lot of required reading.
--You tell your friends that they should ask you if you have a book before they buy it, even though you have no intention of ever letting them borrow one. (See the comment five bullets above.)
--You have to instigate a policy of no book-buying for yourself.
--You promise yourself that you'll just get new books from the library, so that you can read them without being driven to keep them. And you know you won't follow through with this.
--You say to yourself that you won't buy anything new until you've finished reading all of the books you have, even though this couldn't possibly happen during what's left of your lifetime.
--You realize that you'd rather stay at home and read a lot rather than go to Disneyland or some such thing during your vacation.
--You think that the best thing about summers is the reading you can do on your house deck or in your house in the central air.
--Your favorite characters are more endearing to you than are your favorite people.
--You realize that you like more characters than you do real people. And you're okay with this.
--You think that e-readers of any kind are blasphemous.
--You have books by Wilkie Collins on your computer desktop. Unread.
--You think that one of the best things about finishing a book is the review you'll write on Goodreads.
--Or for the blog entry, of course.
--You've considered wall-papering a wall with small posters of your favorite book covers.
--You can actually tell someone why the white bookcovers of the post-1990 Catcher in the Rye is a sinful, crying shame compared to the classic red carousel horse and NYC skyline of the original. And you sound like a lunatic doing so, and don't care.
--After you've recently shelved literally hundreds of books into your new library, someone says to you, "Are you actually keeping all of those?" You say, "Yes," and don't realize their incredulity until over an hour later.
--You've been in minor branches of public libraries with fewer books than you have in your house.
--You have five favorite genres.
--One of your favorite places in Manhattan is the New York Public Library. And an actual wish is to have one that's just as beautiful, if not a little smaller, in your house.
--You have three different editions of Shakespeare's Complete Works. And you're not getting rid of any of them.
--You realize you have more books in your home than some of the more poor schools do in their classrooms, their bookrooms and their libraries. Combined.
--You have over 30 bulleted reasons about why you have too many books, including this one.