Tips For Fighting Your Inner Book Hoarder

Book hoarder woman

Extreme book collecting (hoarding) can be unseemly. There are the piles, the overstuffed shelves, the books in the bed, the corners of your library that new friends and houseguests don’t need to see (explaining the Baroque Cycle and “I Heart Paris/NY” sections of my shelves has been somewhat fraught). At some point, hoarders can cross that Smeagol the Hobbit—>Gollum the creature line. You buy and collect and borrow and steal—and then one morning, you wake up a monster.

Not to worry. These helpful tips will curb your hoarding.

1. Embrace ebooks. An ereader is the bookwork’s equivalent of a Mary Poppins bag (only smaller and not made of carpet).

2. Try the library. You can stop adding new purchases to your “unread” pile and start attending readings, exploring the stacks, and doing other fun library things. (The Digital Commons at the MLK Memorial Library in DC has a 3D printer!)

3. Watch a cat video, or fifteen. The point is, distract yourself! When you’re jonesing to buy a million books, put that energy elsewhere: exercising, making/eating one of these sandwiches, or, best of all, finishing one of the books on the gigantic pile you already own!

4. Hold a book swap. Book hoarding is like a sharing disorder in adults. So, stop saying “Mine! Mine! Mine!,” and share the books you love with the people you love. Just be sure to give away more than you grab.

5. Donate! Cool neighborhood libraries and communal bookshelves are waiting for your overstock. (Leave funny messages and fake phone #s scribbled inside the jackets of donations to confuse future readers.)

6. Be a klutzy slob. Drip mustard and coffee on your books. Drop them in the bath. This is villainous, but effective.

7. Make a list. Before heading to a bookstore (on or offline), decide what you need, and just get that. And never shop when you’re hungry (for knowledge, stories, and the new Stephen King).

8. Give up and convert your house into an official archive. Contact the AAS (American Archival Society). FDR is an honorary member, so that’s fun.

9. Remember: you’re only human. There are too many books for you to read and hoard them all—between 600,000 and 1 million new ones published annually—and on top of that, J.D. Salinger might be publishing books from the great beyond!

Do you have book hoarder tendencies? How do you handle them?

  • Michelle Hummel

    I am not hoarding — I am stocking up for retirement! ;)

    • Katherena Boulden

      Altho I find that the extra time means more time for browsing bookstores!

    • Karen Lascurettes Alessi

      I did that and now I’m retired. It’s wonderful! I can read all day and all night. Thanks to a right frontal lobe aneurysm I have little memory of books I read before the aneurysm and can read them all over again as if they were new. That cloud had a silver lining.

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  • Anthony Trepniak

    You cannot own too many books.
    A bookshop insulting book-buyers: beyond weird…

    • April Lawer

      I think it was all meant in fun. :)

    • Brook Downs

      and this is why B&N is headed toward extinction right behind Borders. been in one of their stores in the past few years? first thing that assaults you 2 steps into the door is this big white unimaginative box selling nooks, as if to say “are you sure you want to come in? you know you can just download everything beyond this point” And then beyond that is a bookstore that is getting rid of bookshelves to make room for their toy inventory. The people who own these big bookstores are no longer the people who love or care about books.

  • April Lawer

    ebooks? no way! I love holding an actual book and I stare at enough screens during the day. ereaders are just not for me. :)

  • Steph Austvold

    My grandmother owns somewhere around 15,000 books. My grandfather built her custom floor to ceiling shelves that line their hallway and the extra office, She’s already stated in her will that they go to me. WOO!

    • Sandra Cattelya

      Envyyyy! That’s like the best last will and testament one could give.

  • Ellen Ronayne

    Why on earth would you want to fight your Inner Book Hoarder?

    • Gina M


  • Lydia Feliciano

    I am definitely a book hoarder! I put 10 books in a bag to give away and I bought 8 more plus 2 books on tape. I started to give my books to different organizations but don’t know if there are enough to go around! Well back to reading!

  • K. Lyn Baker

    I belong to Paperback Swap…get rid of a book, get a new one.

  • Andrea Lemieux

    I don’t “handle” them. Now stop blaspheming.

  • Lostshadows

    Ebooks-The disadvantages still outweigh the advantages for me.

    Library books-Already do this.

    Donate old books-Donations to the local library go straight to the book sale, and that’s where a lot of my recent purchases came from.

    As for making a list before going to the bookstore- Online, you can’t really browse, so a moot point. Offline, I can’t get to a bookstore without taking at least one bus, so I’m not missing out on the only chance I actually get to browse.

  • Kim Sutton

    I am a proud book hoarder! everyone acts like that’s a problem, I think its a skill ;)

  • Melissa

    You can never have to many books, I’m 18 and already have a personal collection of over 2,500. Its not a problem. Some people spend their lives trying to beat the one video game over and over…me, i read. And anyone who is going to try to tell me that reading and letting your mind wander and your creativity grow…well i’ve got one thing to tell them. SHUT UP! Reading isn’t a problem, and not everyone likes to be attached to the electronic world 24/7…the one good thing about a book is that you can take them anywhere with you…they don’t run out of battery power, and they don’t kill your brain cells after hours of mindless droning on of TV screens….

  • Brook Downs

    this is the worst fcking list of tips I’ve ever seen. 2 of them make sense, the rest were written by someone who hates books and doesn’t know how to read…