When you love books too much, or, how I’m not managing my library but saving an alternate life form

Some books are written in such a way that the stories bring characters, towns, cities, oceans, skies, other planets, other species to life. We step into a book and we go back, sideways and forward. We can go anywhere through a book. Those books are a special.

Other books are beautiful examples of writing, or part of a collection. Sometimes, a book is just something that is, that exists, that takes up space, like a textbook or reference book; a necessary book, although why textbooks and reference books are written in such boring fashion is beyond me. Nevertheless, in their own way, they’re still part of the family of books.

To me, each book is the culmination of a series of creative processes and representative of an act of creation. Someone wrote it. There are words in it. People spent time with it. People worried about it. There was editing, proofreading, word usage checking, some hopes and fears sprinkled through it. There are stories within and surrounding each book, even painfully bad ones. Books are to be treasured, except the hateful one I threw out in a fit of anger, a book that wasn’t even mine.

I confess, I have gone a bit overboard with this treasuring and have far too many books now. For sanity’s sake I have to, must, reduce the number of bookcases and by default books in my house by one. The chosen bookcase is 8 feet tall with seven shelves, full of books. But when I begin searching for books to give away, I’m overwhelmed and can’t do it. (Notice I did not say I have to reduce the number of books which eliminates the need for a bookcase. But I digress). Or, I start reading each book, and pretty soon a whole day has passed and all I’ve done is read more books.

You see, people come and go, pets come and go, music and fashion changes, but books? Books are constant. Solid. Portals to places I want to go and see and experience. Stuff I want to know about. Books are living, breathing storytelling machines, even if they’re propaganda.

Books are even factored into my travel plans. I make sure there are bookstores in all of the English speaking cities I visit and I always come back with more books than I left home with. By far the best altar for books and the best bookstore is Shakespeare & Company in Paris, rivalled only by Skoob in London, England which bills itself the temple of books. Halifax, Nova Scotia has some great bookstores and to this day I regret not getting that 1950s poodle grooming manual, now that I have a poodle of my own.

But even I have to admit my book addiction was getting out of hand. My bedtime reading piles towered over the bed and apparently I was calling out book titles in my sleep. I think that’s to be expected — I dream about attending book auctions. I’m a writer for goodness sake, I need books.

I might not need as many as I have. Recently, to manage my book craving, addiction obsession, I made a pact with myself to not buy another book unless one goes out, so I’m using the library a lot.

But I want to downsize the stuff in my house and the biggest amount of stuff is books. There are two measly books in the ‘to donate’ pile and every time I walk by them I ask myself, do I really want to part with them? Can I bear to let them go?

Well, perhaps, I can. It just so happens that this weekend there’s a honking’ huge street sale one street over and since I am an honourary member of that street club, I know that there are going to be some amazing books available. Maybe I can find two to replace the ones I’m losing and I won’t feel so bad.

Help! Does anyone know if there’s book rehab?

Imagine if a book could talk? Well, just so happens that someone did.


About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween.
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