Books · Personal

Hoarding or Collecting?

Okay, so I have a problem. I love books. All books. But I have a special affinity for physical books, hardbound, paper, and ink books. I love to be surrounded by them, to hold them, feel the texture of the covers and the pages under my fingertips, smelling the unique scent of paper and ink in new books, and that particular smell of old volumes. I’ll admit it…I’m addicted.

A clutter of books
A so-called “cluttered” bookshelf.

I think my problem began when I was young. After school I would walk a few blocks to my grandparent’s house, and just around the corner from them was a small, public library nestled in the middle of a neighborhood. I would spend hours wandering those dimly-lit aisles, the only person in attendance (other than the ancient librarian). I still remember that smell, sort of mildewy, dusty, and strangely comforting.

Of course, my early addiction was fed by the annual Scholastic Book Fairs at my school. Most anyone who went to public schools in the US remembers those events. My dad would give me ten or fifteen dollars and I’d buy all the books I could. I ended up with armfuls of Hardy Boys mysteries, Encyclopedia Brown, Shel Silverstein, and whatever else I could get my hands on. It was the highlight of every year throughout elementary school.

The reason I bring this up is because I think it’s time to do something about my books. I have them stacked two rows deeps on a few shelves, and those shelves are beginning to sag from the weight. I did go on a purge a few years ago and got rid of most of my paperbacks, but I’m loathe to let go of any of my hardbound books. Having to choose which to keep and which to set free would be like Sophie’s Choice. Makes me shudder.

A bunch of books
One of my “cluttered” bookshelves.

The solution, I believe, is more bookcases. A simple and elegant answer to my problem. I’ve been eyeing some in the IKEA catalog. They’d fit quite nicely in my office, once I remove one of the old bookcases, and I could fit two of them side by side. More shelving, the books would be nicely displayed, and my partner would hopefully get off my back about my so-called “cluttered office”.

You know, I could say the same thing about her shoe collection. Although, her shoe collection doesn’t contain a few signed first-editions and my books have a longer shelf life. 

Pun intended.



4 thoughts on “Hoarding or Collecting?

  1. I can relate. Five bookcases total here. 3 six footers and 2 four footers. All overflowing. Let me tell yah, it makes moving a pain. Literally in the case of my back.

    Digital vs physical is a tough debate though. There were a few old studies that said information read from a physical book is retained better than an ebook. It makes sense if you think about it. A physical copy engages more of the senses in the learning process than a digital book.

    My personal choice, based on that, was to go digital for fiction and entertainment books and physical for any sort of learning type book. With a lack of space at this point though, we’ve had to resort to anything new being digital… At least till we hit the lottery and can buy a huge house with it’s own library. 😀 😀 😀

    Oh yeah… Bookshelves: You get what you pay for. The cheap ones from Walmart and Ikea will at least sag like mad IF they hold together. Personal experience; shoot for $100 for a six footer, if you want it to last and look good.

    1. Thanks for the advice on shelving. I have a similar rule for my book buying – my fun, cheap reads are electronic (ex: books I’d read at the beach) and the keepers I buy hard bound.

      And when it comes to moving them, just think of it as an opportunity to work on those lower back muscle groups. 😂

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