Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I have too many books

It's a terrible thing for a book publisher and writer to admit, but I have to say it: I am a book addict. I LOVE books. If I could, my entire house would be nothing but a library with a bed and a bathroom in the back. I'd order take-out because a stove would take away space from my wall to wall book-shelves. Unfortunately, I live in a thousand square foot house with two other humans and a dog and they insist on keeping the kitchen.

Today, I stood in my cluttered, dusty, paper strewn office and said, "I can't stand this any more." My room, which should be my sanctuary, the place where I can create and dream, had obviously been transformed into the place where I toss piles of crap waiting to be "dealt with." And my book collection had grown beyond my shelves to multiply into precarious stacks braced against corners, my bed, and my shoe collection. I'd stubbed my toe on my Harry Potter collection. It was time to do some weeding.

First I dealt with all those piles and discovered the reason I hadn't dealt with most of the stuff was because I didn't need or want it: out it went. Once I'd cleared the floor and my desk of clutter and garbage, I turned to my two, solid-wood, tall, legal bookcases with their glass doors which were unable to close from all the books sticking out.

This was gonna hurt.

Oh my darling, beautiful books. Hundreds of books on hundreds of topics, everything from Sci-Fi, historical, fantasy, "chic-lit," political non-fiction, sociological exposes, ghost stories and Celtic legends, comics, classics, Buddhist philosophy, Jungian theory, scientific studies, travelogues, how-to, text-books, comedies... so many books! I'm an omnivorous reader; I wouldn't have a clutter problem if I didn't want to read everything.

I was tough. I purged almost mercilessly, only keeping my most favorite books and dumping the rest. Sure, I really liked Into the Forrest and Emotional Intelligence, but they weren't among my favorites. In the interest of a little more calm and sanity in my life, I had to let them go.

Why am I so mesmerized by books? Lord only knows how much money I blow on books. I practically drool in bookstores and spend way too much time surfing the Powell's books website looking for new authors and interesting stories. I don't understand people who don't read books. A house without books is like a classroom without windows: oppressive and sterile. When I was a young woman, I'd always fall for the guy with the most books, even if he was a total jerk. And if he showed me his copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I was a gonner, complete putty in his hands.

Obviously, I have a serious book problem. Why else would I start publishing the damn things? Certainly not for the money.

Some of my friends are doing a "sober January," during which time they abstain from all alcohol. Perhaps it's time for me to detox from books, do a "no book-buying January." I need to get a grip on this need to surround myself with books until there's no room for me to sleep in my bed.

I will not buy another book for the rest of the month, no matter how good it might be or whether or not there's a good sale at the bookstore. Nor will I accept any free books from friends.

Why did my palms just start sweating?


alpharat said...

I too have begun a purge in the New Year. It began with clothing, but books are next. This will be difficult for me as well...

Corrie Howe said...

Our whole family loves books. I can purge some of the younger children's books. I give them to friends, school, library, or take them in for credit at a second hand book store. But I can't bring myself to get rid of the books which I hope my kids will grow in Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Series of Unfortunate events...and then on to Wuthering Heights, Sherlock Holmes, Tale of Two Cities, Hunt for Red October, Three Musketeers, ....

Instead, I've been trying to talk my husband into paying a carpenter to build floor to ceiling bookshelves in my basement. (He wants to, but we keep finding other things to spend money upon.)