My name is Lori, and I’m a book hoarder.
Whew. It feels so good to admit it.
I’m not looking to go to therapy though. And I’m certainly not planning to change my ways anytime soon. I figure if there is anything in the world that it’s probably okay to hoard, it’s books. And I don’t think you can ever have too many.
Well…unless you literally have so many that there is not even an inch of room left in your house and you’re forced to live outside in a little makeshift shanty in your backyard. Then, it’s probably time to seek some professional help and start downsizing the collection. But I’m not even close to that, so I’m probably okay.
And I do want to point out that my book collecting has significantly slowed in recent years. I’m no longer a student, so there is not a steady supply of textbooks finding their way onto my shelves. And now that I’m juggling the duties of being a full-time wife, mother, writer, and photographer, I don’t have quite as much time to even sit down and read anymore.
I’ve hit a lull…well, for myself at least.
Now that Cadence is in preschool, I get to revisit the excitement of those Scholastic book order days. Oh, they were my favorite! As soon as the teacher passed out those little paper catalogs, I would work myself into a frenzy–reading descriptions, circling books that I couldn’t live without (which usually ended up being at leave 3/4 of the catalog), and then hurrying home to show my Mom and start begging her to let me order.
My parents were hardworking folks. They both put in long hours at full-time jobs so they could keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes on our backs. We took the occasional vacations, and we always had gifts on our birthdays and at Christmas time. While there were plenty of things we did without, one thing Mom and Dad hardly ever said no to was books. Sure they had to keep me in check, and my 3/4 catalog order usually ended up being whittled down to just 3-4 books at at time, but it was enough, and I never complained.
Thank goodness I now have Steven to keep Cadence and I in check on Scholastic book order days. Otherwise, the two of us would surely be in trouble. The girl already has a bookshelf overflowing with books (yeah, I went on a children’s book buying binge shortly after the pregnancy test came up positive), and she is now at the age where she is starting to check books out of the library at school, and she loves to bring them home and read them every night before bed, and sometimes just carry them around the house reciting the story from memory.
Yeah, that’s my girl.
And now even Cosette seems to have been bitten by the book bug. When Cadence woke this morning, she found the little elf giving Five Little Monkeys one last read before Cadence had to return it to school.
Smart little elf. You can never go wrong with a book.
And, on an unrelated note, has anyone noticed that Cadence is completely incapable of actually looking at the camera for a picture unless she’s making goofy faces? I wonder where she got that from?
I don’t believe in reading books without a pen, pencil, or highlighter nearby. When I read a brilliant line or a beautiful passage in a book, I want to acknowledge it and commit it to memory. The purpose of writing is to speak to people, to show them things in a way they have never seen them, to awaken something inside of them that thirsts for more.
I loved Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables the first time I read it as a 15-year-old kid, and loved it even more when I decided to revisit it this year to celebrate the release of the new movie. And with today’s Project Life 365 theme “Currently Reading”, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my favorite passage–highlighted at age 15, and underlined at age 32…
“Nowhere can the mind’s eye find anything more dazzling or more obscure than in man; it can focus on nothing more awe-inspiring, more complex, more mysterious, or more infinite. There is one spectacle greater than the sea: That is the sky; there is one spectacle greater than the sky: That is the interior of the soul.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I truly have an obsessive addiction to anything that could possibly make me cross the line from from enthusiastic collector to certified hoarder, it’s books. Seriously, I have a problem.
See, it’s not just the fact that I like to read books, or that I can’t stop myself from buying at least one book every time I visit the bookstore. Yeah, every time. Even if I’ve just been there and bought a book the day before. No, that’s not the real problem. The real problem is when I start collecting books in bulk.
See, my bookstore problem is easily solved by not visiting the bookstore very often, and by the fact that new books can cost upwards of $15 each. When I’m shopping in a bookstore, I have to be choosy.
No, the real problem is when friends of mine are getting rid of books, or when I have the opportunity to visit a large sale where books are ridiculously low-priced. My heart starts palpitating. I get a little dizzy. I break out into a cold sweat. Sometimes, I even lose chunks of time, like a victim of alien abduction, only to “wake up” and see that somehow I have acquired several new stacks of books.
When I was in college, Dr. Nakhai, one of my old English professors, cleaned out her office and was getting rid of about a hundred old literature anthologies and textbooks. It took over a dozen milk crates borrowed from the dining hall and a handtruck from the College Services department for my friend Anette and I to haul them all up to my dorm room but, by God, I wasn’t about to let them go when they still had so much life in them.
Then, while living in Arizona, I caught wind of a ginormous annual VSNA Book Sale held at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. Steven and I decided to check it out in February of 2009. We stood in a long line that snaked back and forth in front of the building for about 45 minutes, chuckling at the people pushing shopping cards and pulling large suitcases on wheels. It wasn’t until we actually stepped inside that we began to understand.
I’m pretty sure I caught a glimpse of Heaven that day, and it smelled of paper and ink. I’ve never seen so many books in one place in my life–stacks and stacks and stacks of them on table after table after table, divided into sections by genre. Most paperbacks could be purchased anywhere from 50 cents to $4.00. Brand new hardcovers ranged anywhere from $5.oo to $10.00. I’m surprised I didn’t faint from the excitement.
Twenty books and about $45.00 later, Steven and I headed home with our arms full. I hate to think of what the damage would have been if I had known to bring a shopping cart. I told myself there was always next year, and had my daughter Cadence not arrived just a week before the sale, I’m pretty sure I would have gotten myself in some serious book-buying trouble in 2010.
But even without the help of a big book sale or a professor purging her collection, the books have still managed to stack up over the years.
What can I say? It’s a sickness.
I was proud of myself for getting rid of a bit stack of the old literature books and textbooks before we left Arizona by donating them to the Casa Grande Library. Nevertheless, I’ve still managed to fill nearly three boxes of books to sell/donate during this Excavation project. Here are just a few…
Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore Edgar Allan Poe (what self-respecting writer/English major doesn’t?). But this old collection is Steven’s and since I have one too (plus a smaller collection of the most popular of Poe’s work that I have taken copious notes in), we decided to get rid of this one and keep mine. And except for one small ding on the cover and the spine, it is in great condition.
This next book is one that I picked up at the bookstore because I was particularly missing New York, and thought maybe reading a bunch of stories about New York, taking place in New York, by native New York writers might help ease the homesickness. And I guess I must have been reeeeeeeeeeally missing New York, because somehow I ended up with two copies. It’s one step closer to hoarding when you buy things and forget about them, so I’m more than happy to give up one of my copies. The other, is still safely on the shelf.
When Steven and I decided that our move to Arizona was going to take place just a month before our Las Vegas destination wedding, we thought taking a roadtrip to California sounded like it might be a fun idea for a honeymoon. So, when I ran across this Weird California book in the bookstore one day, I couldn’t resist. After all, a vacation with me wouldn’t really be a vacation unless you visit at least one off-the-wall place. Unfortunately, going on a honeymoon didn’t pan out, since we had to rush back home after the wedding so I could start my new teaching job. And now, nearly five years later, we’ve decided that we would rather save up and take a belated honeymoon in one of our favorite cities in the world–New Orleans. So, nothing against California, but I’m ready to pass this book on to someone else who wants to get out west and see some of the best, and weirdest, that California has to offer.
And speaking of weddings, this book of DIY wedding crafts has also been hanging around since 2006 or so. I mean, I love my husband. Hell, I love him so much that, technically, I married him twice, but one thing I’m never going to be doing again is planning a wedding. No thanks. I’m done with that. So, it’s time for this book to move on to another home where it will be used and appreciated once more. So, tomorrow morning, it’s on it’s way to Dallas so my sister Kassie can take a look and find some ideas for her upcoming nuptials.