Hoarding: The Secret Life Of A Book Addict

In addition to reading romance – lots and lots of romance – I’m also a big fan of the horror genre. Not only Stephen King, whose Buried in Bookswork I’ve been reading since I was fourteen, but other horror writers as well including Clive Barker, Dan Simmons, and Dean Koontz to name just a few. In recent years I’ve also become a fan of Stephen King’s son, who writes under the name Joe Hill. His work is really good, and I await his new releases with nearly as much gusto as I do his father’s. So when Mr. Hills’ newest book, NOS4A2, came out recently, I dashed to the bookstore the very day it was released in order to scoop it up.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, of course. It’s not like I’m robbing banks. But here’s the thing: my to-be-read pile is at least 75 books long. And I’m not talking electronic books (because that would push the total even higher), but honest-to-goodness printed books. Hardcovers. Softcovers. Bound books, ink on paper, taking up space on my limited bookshelf. To top it off, I  live in a small apartment where space is a premium. Yet what did I do in the face of a space crisis? I went out and bought yet another book. Even more: while I was at the bookstore, I inquired whether or not Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth was out in paperback yet. ‘Cause if it was, I was buying that, too. (thankfully, it’s not until July 2. I’ve got it marked on my calendar). So here I am, friendly readers, baring my soul. My name is Elizabeth Shore, and I’m a book addict.

My book addiction sprouted roots when I was a Tween, probably eleven or twelve. Back then, I used to get as birthday and/or Christmas presents a gift certificate to Waldenbooks. Oh, those were heady days! Having that gift certificate in my hand, walking into the bookstore and seeing all those new, fresh books just sitting there, on the shelves, awaiting my potential acquisition. I could barely contain myself. I was like Imelda Marcos in a Jimmy Choo store!

Books take me away, sweep me into a world of fantasy, romance, adventure, excitement. Naturally I love the stories in the books. What reader doesn’t? It’s the whole point, after all. But I also love the books themselves. I love how they feel when I’m holding them. I love running my palm across the cover of paperbacks and feeling the raised lettering. I admire the antiquated look of ragged edged hardcovers and note how handsome they look sitting atop my shelves. It’s an addiction, I tell you, and one that I’m thinking needs to stop.

Once I’ve read a book, I rarely read it again. There are a few treasures, of course. But for the most part, it’s one and done. I read it, enjoy it, and move on to the next, devouring each and every one of them like a starving cookie monster. I’m beginning to fret about the fact that I have no room for more books, as well as the amount of money I’m spending on them. Really, I need to be directing my hard-earned cash toward more practical things. Like food. I don’t actually need to own a single book. There are libraries, after all. I can read books for free and then return them and never have to worry about squeeeeezing yet another book upon my groaning shelves. But seriously, how boring is that? I don’t actually need nice handbags, either. A sack cloth would do the same trick. But how pale life would be stowing my stuff in a sack, just as it would be having shelves with no books.

Whenever I lament to my husband about being struck with buyer’s remose over buying books, his go-to response is always, “hey, at least you’re not snorting the money up your nose.” Well, no. I’m certainly not doing that. I am, however, supporting writers, and that’s assurance enough for me that if I’m going to have a vice, there are plenty worse ones than buying books. If only I lived in an airplane hangar.

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