Can You Own Too Many Books?

That’s what I ask myself as I stare at the mountain of books on my desk. Before they topple down, I arrange them in piles on the floor, then wonder why I bothered to move them. Back they go on my desk. Bookcases, you’d think. We’ve plenty of bookcases in the house, but every one is filled, and we haven’t the room for more.

I acquired these books in various ways. Some I bought, others come from friends. I receive ARCs, can’t resist library sales and used bookstores. Then there are the bagfuls of brand new books acquired at conferences. My husband urges me to get rid of some of them. I would, but the old books already ensconced in bookcases are keepers. As for the others, I’ve every intention of getting to them as soon as I can. I do my best. I read three books at once. Still, the pile grows faster than I can read. And then come the interruptions — library books I’ve ordered, the latest novels by my favorite authors.

I once complained to a writer friend I found it difficult to get to all the books I planned to read. “Did you think you could — in this lifetime?” was her answer. I saw the futility of it all.

Still, I charge on, trying to make a dent in my mountain of books to be read. And believe me, I’m virtuous. I pass on my books to friends and neighbors, usually with the instructions NOT to return them to me. But the mountain grows higher. Like Sisyphus and his impossible task.

I plan to buy an e-reader in order to read many of the wonderful books available in that form. Then my mountain of books won’t grow as quickly.Or should I prepare to face reality — that I’ll be owning even more books in the future?

Do many of you have this problem? Please write to tell me how you handle it.