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A book hoarder's call for help...

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English Muse: A book hoarder's call for help...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A book hoarder's call for help...

Do you read me? Model : Annie Beust

Mark Medley, the National Post's books editor, has the most wonderful essay out today
on his life as a book hoarder.

He explains:

"Between my girlfriend and I me, there are probably between 1,000 and 1,250 books in our apartment, a number I consider rather paltry. Ideally, I’d like to double that number once we buy our first home — we currently rent — and I’m no longer faced with the prospect of hauling countless boxes of books between addresses.

"No, the problem, in my opinion, is not the number of books I own, but that I am unable to get rid of any of them. I own some terrible, terrible books — you wouldn’t believe how many crap books get published in this country — but cannot, for the life of me, part with a single one. I am a book hoarder, which, in my line of work, is a troublesome problem to have."

Medley adds:

"When A&E’s Hoarders premiered a couple of years ago, I watched with morbid fascination; that’s me, I thought, in 25 years (OK, five years)."


This is me -- right down to watching the Hoarders episodes on A&E! I have a friend who is merciless about getting rid of her old books (she leaves boxes of them on the doorsteps of second-hand stores late at night.) She says I should be less sentimental, but somehow I just can't...

What about you?

(Photo by Magic Magic Magic.)



Blogger Larissa said...

If you love something set it free!

March 23, 2011 at 7:48 PM  
Blogger debbie bailey said...

I think I was finally able to give away my first book in my forties. It was a rite of passage. Now if I finish a book and it was anything less than wonderful, I donate it to our library for their annual sale. You could look at it this way: giving books away makes room for more new ones. Maybe that'll motivate you! Maybe not. Do what makes you happy.

March 23, 2011 at 7:48 PM  
Blogger Kelly Kilmer said...

My husband, son and I live in a one bedroom apartment. We have 13 bookcases that line the walls. I have no qualms about getting rid of books that I don't like or have no attachment to. Your library should be one you treasure and cherish, not a library of useless, unloved tomes. I did get a great laugh at his comment of 1000-1,250 books. Hahahaha. That's nothing.

March 23, 2011 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I'm the exact same way! My small condo is FILLED with books on three bookcases and even more in boxes that are stacked in my bedroom. It's terrible, but I just can't let them go.

March 23, 2011 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Chloé Jane said...

Oh no... Books are wonderful!
Keep them and pass them onto your children. AND it's much nicer to collect a library piece by piece!

March 23, 2011 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Swiss said...

I have no problem getting rid of a mmmeh book, but I usually read library books and then buy the books that I really like so the collection is large but well loved.

March 23, 2011 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger curious constellation said...

I'm only 17 & I've already started hoarding books. I almost cannot walk into a book store without buying something new.

March 23, 2011 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Kaisha said...

I think I could call myself a hoarder as well. My bookshelf is full (but strategically placed in genre of course) and I have boxes upon boxes under my bed and in the spare room. I also dread changing addresses. Thanks for sharing!

March 23, 2011 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger Charm said...

When I moved from Sydney to Melbourne I took a few boxes of books with me. This was only a small portion of my collection. I was able to give away a few boxes but the rest (I'd say close to 500 books) were left under the stairs of the apartment block I was leaving. I now have a modest collection of around 250 books but with the settlement for my newly purchased house going through today I can see it growing again quite soon :)

March 23, 2011 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger Alexandra Steinmetz - Champagne and Chiffon said...

I have no problem getting rid of books. The ones I don't want to hold onto always get passed along to a friend that may enjoy them.

March 24, 2011 at 4:45 AM  
Blogger SAMANTHA said...

i am glad to read this and know i am not alone. i don't really hoard books i don't like, but all of the ones i love, i would never get rid of ever! this is why i refuse to get a kindle- i love the touch, feel and smell of real books.

my fiance said we should get a bigger apartment, not for more room to start a family, but for more room for more books. he's a keeper!


March 24, 2011 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Holly Marie said...

My boyfriend is like this! He insists on keeping even old textbooks from his undergrad. It makes me a little crazy, as I'm at the opposite obsessive end of the spectrum, compulsively tossing/ donating things I don't love.

March 24, 2011 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I've gotten better about donating books, but only if it's something I didn't enjoy and won't read again, otherwise I am currently out of bookshelf space... again. :)

March 24, 2011 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

My husband and I face this issue all the time - we both love books and he especially wants to own them if he's read them and keep them forever. We have NINE boxes of books stuffed into closets plus books on shelves all over the place in our apartment...but that's after we've purged because we knew we couldn't afford to move them (and we move often being students) all the time.

Sigh. But it has cured me of holding onto books I have no desire to go back too - most of the time.

March 24, 2011 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger DENISE. said...

My book club teases me about this ALL the time! I just can't part with any book that comes into my life. They are like photographs -- I love to see them in my home, and when I walk by them, I have the memories of not only the characters & the stories, but what my life was like when I read that book. Sign me up for the Hoarding club!

March 24, 2011 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Morgan said...

I have a really hard time parting with books too, especially series and things I read as a child. The only way I get rid of them is giving them to my younger sister so she can enjoy them and hang on to them for me should I ever feel like reading them again. Other than that, I have a really difficult time parting with even the crapiest of books.

March 24, 2011 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Molly McGonigle said...

I frequently think I could end up a books hoarder. My apartment is so tiny and I've run out of shelf space. Now I have piles scattered around my place. I should get rid of some, but I just have a hard time with it.

March 24, 2011 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

My husband and I are both librarians, so of course, we had more books than clothing or any other items combined when we moved in. Our only solution? To keep our first editions and treasured books and go digital. It was heartbreaking at first, but overall, it allowed us to appreciate our tangible reading. Plus, it was such a harsh loss for us emotionally, we realized we grew stronger in our marriage because of it. Crazy!

March 24, 2011 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger madeleine said...

I doubt you can be as bad as a hoarder!!! For some reason, I think it's so cute and borderline romantic that your friend leaves boxes of books on doorsteps of second hand stores! So fabulous!

Stay classy,

March 24, 2011 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger The Dandelion Chronicles said...

Not books. Anything but books. Only if I have a spare copy and I choose the one which has the prettiest cover/illustration/not damaged spine/ no coffee spills/with notes/name tags/dedications etc. Basically, I can't get rid of a book either!

(And I have seen the show.. It airs here in Denmark too!)

March 25, 2011 at 6:16 AM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

I once sold books to a used bookstore.
They gave me ten dollars for a stack of twenty-five paperbacks (which, in hindsight, was probably not much less than they sold them for). I cried and decided I would never, ever sell books again. Giving? yes. But I always want them back, and only ever swap or sell books I have two of (which actually happens a lot, because I'll buy old copies with pretty covers).

My parents are graciously housing my hundreds of books, but will probably make me take them all when I have my own house. Oh boy.

March 25, 2011 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

I can't, either! They're like old friends I take comfort in having around. And, what if I want to revisit them?
I have a friend who wants to coordinate a book swap. The thought makes me cringe!

March 25, 2011 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Tracey said...

I used to be terrible when it comes to hoarding books, but then a few years ago something clicked ... I realised that it was pretty infrequently that I'd actually reach for a book I'd already read, so it was far better to let them free into the world for someone else to appreciate.

I'm still culling my book collection, but I think it's a case of once you start, the easier it becomes.

March 27, 2011 at 3:42 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Great post. I adore books, and I love walking into homes filled with them. Bookcases are an essential part of home decor, in my opinion. I think it contributes to an environment with a love of reading and learning. That said, I have no problem getting rid of books I didn't love. I want to keep my shelves stocked with the books I'd happily recommend to others and/or reread myself.

March 29, 2011 at 7:19 AM  

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