Home > art, books > Confessions of a Book Hoarder

Confessions of a Book Hoarder


I’m running out of places for the books to live. They’re everywhere in my house, like some sort of word-born Tribble. They’re under my bed, living in my closet, stacked corners, boxed in the attic, on top of my dresser, and stuffed into my actual bookshelf – to the point where, to get to one book, I have to remove ten. There are books in the chest at the foot of my bed (which was meant for clothing), books in boxes in a storage closet, and books (possibly…definitely) in the linen closet. The attic flooring, honest-to-Hawthorne, has actually cracked under the weight. Now, there’s a sad patch of ceiling in my hallway that has been temporarily nailed together. With great books comes great responsibility, and the poor attic couldn’t handle the pressure.

Some might see this as a problem, even an addiction. My To Be Read pile appears to multiply at night, and if it ever were to become sentient, I’m fairly certain it’s large enough to murder me in my sleep. (Has Stephen King written about a homicidal book yet? I know all about the Evil Pie. But, surely, an evil book is much more terrifying. He could even call it Levon Red Rum. Mr. King, you’re welcome.) Yet, despite the overwhelming Book Plague of Unquantifiable Proportions, I still keep buying books. Anytime anyone asks me if I want a gift for something, I ask for books. When I don’t, eyebrows are raised and people assume I’m ill.

Recently, I brought Suzanne Palmieri’s The Witch of Belladonna Bay to read on my lunch break at work. Who needs food, when there are words? Okay, I need both, but I’m more than capable of eating and reading, just don’t mind the salad dressing I spilled on one corner. The other day, I realized that I can’t find my copy of Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave – a novel with the best opening sentence I’ve ever read. In a fit of pique, I ransacked all of my stacks, piles, and boxes – only to remember that I loaned it to a book-thieving mongrel who kept it for himself. I consoled myself with the notion that it’s a perfectly justifiable reason to buy a new copy. Right now, I’ve got my copy of Stephen King’s It on the passenger seat of my car, in case I arrive someplace early and have a few minutes to kill.

If you’re not a booklover, loving books to the point of clutter and mild hording is somewhat confusing, if not a slight bit horrifying. I’ve been advised in the past to – get this – part with some of my books, simply to make room for new ones. This is, of course, a WORLD of NO. I can’t do it. I couldn’t pick which ones I’d be okay abandoning. What if I’m struck with the sudden urge to walk down Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard of Oz or visit Thornfield Hall and Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre? What if I find my version of Ted Hughes and need to re-read Sylvia Plath’s Unabridged Journals immediately? Plus, if I parted with these things, I’d lose all my margin notes. I suffered through graduate school to put them there, and by Gaiman, I will not see that suffering be in vain. (If you could see me right now, I’m doing my best dramatic Scarlett O’Hara defiant flourish.)

My name is Ali, and I’m a book hoarder. I’m addicted to books. I have a book problem. Sure, it makes vacuuming a bit of a challenge, but I reason that having to move piles of books around is good exercise. Yes, my purse usually weighs a metric ton (why carry one book, when you can carry TWO?). And, okay, fine – I once might’ve lost my cat underneath the bed, because the books ate her. Well, technically, she squeezed between the book heaps, and I had to remove them all to free her. But that was just one time. It couldn’t possibly happen again, right?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think the cat is stuck behind some Shakespeare. Or is that a human foot?

Categories: art, books
  1. June 1, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    And THIS, my dear, is why I have a Kindle. My bookshelves are stuffed (I believe the appropriate cliché here is “to the gills”), but I require more. Now I buy them for my Kindle and think, “well, at least I’m saving space” because it would never occur to me to stop acquiring books in some form.

    • June 2, 2014 at 6:51 am


      That is EXACTLY why I bought mine. But there are still a large number of books that I MUST have in print. It’s a problem. hehe

  2. June 8, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Do you mean “problem” or “blessing” :p Ha, I so identify with this.

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