Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Confessions of a collector...

Having spent the evening with a friend who’s been known to buy a book or two herself, and conversation having drifted round to where we might find the ultimate promised land of reasonably priced, well stocked, second hand bookshops I am ready to admit that I might be more of a collector then a reader. Ever since I was a child I've wanted my own Library, and have gathered books accordingly. I often wonder how many volumes I need before my shelves can claim their true title?

I do read, and I'm obsessive about having a book with me. I'm the woman who won’t leave the house without a book in her bag, even if it’s just to browse round town – or visit a friend. Most of the time I'm not sure that one book is enough, if a journey is in the offing it will indeed be more than one book, no holiday is complete without a small library in attendance. My preferred coat is a Barbour because of the number of excellent book carrying pockets it carries, yet I probably only read a couple of books a week.

Nothing to be ashamed of in that until I consider how many books I buy in the same time, a number that often reaches double figures in seven days. If it was just about reading I would use public libraries, but it’s very rare that I do – I hate to give the books back. Often I buy things knowing I won’t pick them up again for months, maybe years, but I want to know they’re sitting on the shelf waiting for me. Some books – I'm looking at a stack almost a foot high made up of six Everyman volumes of Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – I’m sure I will never read, but they where a pound each in Oxfam. How could I resist? After all it’s the sort of thing any well furnished library needs...

I find the book as an object is as important to me as its contents, not more important, but definitely as important. I'm not a fan of hard backs or special editions, though I have both, paperbacks; lovely, light, compact, cheap paperbacks are my first and true love, and I can’t get enough of them.


  1. I'd not seen your blog til you commented on mine, but what an impressive collection of VMCs!

  2. Just found your blog through your comment on Verity's and I fear we are kindred spirits...as much as I try and curb my book buying I can't help myself, and I seem to read one book for every ten I acquire...it's not a good recipe for success in the battle of keeping my bookshelves under control! But of all habits to have, it's not a bad one, I think.

    Welcome to the book blogging world! We seem to have the same taste in books and I have blogged about many of the books you have - you could be me!

  3. So very true, all of it!
    Actually, coming to terms with my collecting instinct has made me happier about buying books I know I'll probably never read...

    My friend once asked me why I was taking a book with me for our walk - when I explained that she might break her leg, and I'd have to wait for the air ambulance, she wasn't much pleased...

  4. One never knows when a book will be needed to fill up some otherwise lost moments waiting in lines or other unavoidable and/or unexpected downtime. I always feel sorry for people who don't have a book with them. Or what about those folks who get on a long haul flight with nothing but the airline magazine to read. Yikes.

    I probably buy more books than I should, and try to limit myself to those that I think I want to read. If the book is non-fiction I am likely to keep it forever as a reference book even if I don't ever read it. But when it comes to fiction--which is the bulk of what I buy--if I begin to feel like I will never read it, I sometimes feel the need to get rid of it. Since fiction is frankly one of my reasons for living, the thought of a dud looming somewhere in my collection makes me a bit crazy. I can feel it silently oppressing me, taunting me that I will never read it. Sometimes I surprise myself and actually read it, but other times, I just know it is never gonig to work for me and I need to set it free (and get it out of my house).

    I might need therapy.