You May Be a Book Hoarder If…

Do you have books in almost every room of your house? Do you have at least one pile of “to read” books somewhere in your home that is seemingly getting larger by the minute? Are you currently using books to, shall we say, accessorize your house—as pedestals for lamps, decorative doorstops, or bookends for other books? Do visitors frequently compare your domicile to a library?

Then you, my friend, may be a book hoarder. Welcome to the club.

Shows like Hoarders, Intervention, and The Biggest Loser are all about the transformation—the glorious life-change that comes from being compelled (and oftentimes forced) to understand and eliminate destructive behavior or tendencies.

A word of warning to those who may be plotting to cast me in a Hoarders-style show for bibliophiles: Stay. Away. From. My. Books.

If you’re like me, your books are an extension of yourself. They’re a part of who you are. The books on my bookshelves and stacked in piles throughout the house tell my own personal story. They chronicle my history as a reader and, to discerning bibliophiles, offer up a glimpse into my very soul.

Whenever I visit someone’s home, I inevitably gravitate to a bookshelf to see what kinds of books are being displayed. You can tell a lot about someone by the titles on his shelves!

Those who visit my house will find decades worth of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery. And hidden among the stacks, some poetry, eastern philosophy, graphic novels, and romance.

I consider books that I keep to be very much like photographs. Most books bring me back to a memorable moment in time, or at the very least elicit some kind of strong emotional response.

For example, seeing my copy of Lamentation by Ken Scholes—the first installment of his extraordinary Psalms of Isaak saga—always brings me back to the birth of my first daughter. Lamentation was the novel I brought to the hospital, and was the book that I read during my first night as a father.

My yellowed paperback copies of Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga take me back to ninth grade, when three bullies relentlessly picked on me every day before homeroom. Reading those books offered up invaluable escapism back then—and let me envision taking vengeance on them with Elric’s soul-sucking sword Stormbringer. Again, and again, and again.

I have special sections for particularly beloved authors like Kat Richardson, Laurell K. Hamilton, R.A. Salvatore, Richard Kadrey, and Arthur C. Clarke. I have areas for apocalyptic fiction, paranormal fantasy, and zombie fiction.

I even have book cover art framed and displayed on my walls—a print of the cover of Salvatore’s The Highwayman signed by legendary artist Todd Lockwood, a poster of the cover art for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children signed by Ransom Riggs, etc.

If I were producing a Book Hoarders reality show, I’d completely change the format… Instead of an intervention forcing a book lover to part ways with a sizable portion of his literary hoard, wouldn’t it be fascinating to chronicle the impressions of a bunch of strangers after thoroughly examining the books in a book hoarder’s house?

What would people think about you if they could peruse the stacks in your home?

  • Jenn Cunha

    They would think the library belonged to a girl who loved her romance, loved her YA, and loved anything else she could get her hands on…Chuck Klosterman, Jane Austen, Roald Dahl, you name it, I have it. Similarly, there are books everywhere in my home and I consider it a day well spent to go through my library, re-organizing and weeding through (especially those duplicates and triplicates…woops). I think a Book Hoarders show should focus on new ways to store books so that you don’t have to go through an obstacle course to get out of a room. :)

    • Amanda Lashua

      I found this great app called book catalog for android (I assume there is something similar for iOS) you can scan/enter all of your books into a virtual bookshelf that way when your at the bookstore and not sure if you already own something (a problem for us people with over 500 books) you can check the app, which is organized by authors last name, to see if you already have it. It took forever to enter/scan the books but is so worth it when I am out at B&N or a second hand store and i can’t remember if I already own something :)

      • frogprof

        What do you do if you’re a Luddite and don’t have a smart phone? I used to keep a book journal, but that got a bit onerous to carry around all the time … not to mention the 400-plus-item wishlist I used to keep in my now-defunct Palm Pilot!

    • Ann Peck Abdelzaher

      LOL I have bought Dupes before too that’s why I bought Book Collectorz software, but the one problem with that… getting them all scanned into the database!

  • Ann Peck Abdelzaher

    They wouldn’t know what to think I have such an eclectic library they would think I have multiple personalities! A Book hoarders show should focus on making a bookshelf mecca and ordering them appropriately!

    • Irene Budoff

      I’m with you; they’d never figure out my personality from my bookshelf, or they’d hospitalize me. Still, it gives me a great selection to choose from.

    • Patti McMahon

      Multiple personalities, that’s it for me, as well. But what a journey!

  • Lucienne Diver

    I think it would make a great show to incorporate books into the decor in an even more permanent way, though I can’t think of any way (shellack, special casing, etc.) that would still allow the books to be used as books!

  • Evonne Accristo

    I read a book a day for years…..when I gave most of them to a second hand shop they had to rearrange the entire first floor to stack them. I am glad I initial them cuz I would probably buy them again.

  • Cindy Guest Taylor

    I am most definitely a book hoarder and a book nerd, and I am proud of it!! If you counted the hundreds of actual physical books I have and all of the ebooks on my laptop and my ereaders, I easily have enough books to last me for years, but I still keep adding more LOL! One of my happiest moments was when my hubby built me 40 feet of bookshelves along my basement wall to house my book collection :).

    • Ann Peck Abdelzaher

      LOL I have 13 6ft tall bookshelves and a 4 ft tall one in my basement all full plus a few totes full!

  • Rutabaga

    Definitely a book hoarder…. I even got rid of my furniture in the bedroom and keep all my clothing on bookshelves with curtains across them. I LOVE IT

  • Stephanie Blevins

    I’m definitely a book hoarder, no shame here! Books are never a problem! The problem is always lack of space!

    • abe1000

      You must alone.

  • Donna Engborg

    I will help you co-host! I love it and absolutely agree 100%! My boys and I counted books a few months ago 1,401! 300+ were in my 13 year old sons room alone! And yes, there are books in every room, on the stairs, on any surface in the house. Plus there is a box of library books to return all the time at the front door. We go to the library with totes! One each! But more importantly is the reference that my books are like photographs, chronically my life – absolutely! Child rearing books, Mom’s devotions, Marriage encouragement, My favorite series! And so so much more! Beautiful article!

  • Jennifer McGaffey was my rescue from buying and re-buying books. However, it did exactly nothing for reducing the number of books I have…it just enables me to know that I have 5,564 books currently physically in my one-bedroom apartment. Plus a few borrowed books (cataloged separately). I seldom use them as furniture, though, because then I might not be able to pull out the one that catches my fancy…

  • Kevin

    Books defy any attempt at hoarding by collectively forming what is called a ‘library’.

  • Lena Williams

    I am such a book hoarder. I have books everywhere. Stacks and stacks of them. I have books in front of other books, on other books and even in the bathroom. And I am very proud of that fact.

  • A. Martin

    My mother would call me a hoarder of books… She doesn’t really understand why I would hold onto them after I’ve already read them… I have actually gotten rid of some books… getting credit to buy different books at places like Powell’s in Portland, OR….
    For everyone who loves books… An anime movie, and series, with a hero we can relate to (Yomiko Readman rocks!)… “Read or Die” and “R.O.D.the TV”

    • Ann Peck Abdelzaher

      My husband doesn’t understand either and some books I have read upwards of a dozen time (Chronicles of Narnia being 1)

  • Denise Byckowski

    I have over 1,900 books in my library that I haven’t read yet! I keep some of the books I’ve read but with so many books I will never get a chance to re-read any of them! The books I don’t keep I donate or trade on I read an average of 4 books a month, depending on length, and my favorite genre is historical fiction.

  • Dori Davis

    My mom has always hassled me about my book collection. “You don’t need any more books,” she would say. (As *if*! One *always* needs more books.) Well, I showed her. I’m now finishing up a Ph.D. in literature. Now when she complains about my books I have a proper comeback: “These aren’t just books, Mom. These are the tools of my profession!”

  • Theresa Jurkiewicz

    Thanks for posting! I am not alone!

  • April Lawer

    It’s official, I…am…a…book…hoarder! LOL My sister has been trying to tell me this for years, but of course I’ve denied anything having to do with the word “hoarding” since it evokes ghastly images of vile, vermin infested, mold farming homes. I have absolutely no use for an e-reader either. I love the feel of a book, the smell, being able to turn the pages, and using my pretty bookmarks. Besides, how many screens does a person look at through any given day? Too many to add one more, is what I say! My 11 year old daughter has got quite the collection of her own started too. Does projecting my book hoarding onto my daughter make me a bad mom? 😉

    • Ann Peck Abdelzaher

      LOL If you are then I am too my almost 5 year old has quite the hoard of books already. that is one thing I never deny him!

  • Erika Perez

    I am definitely a book hoarder & darn proud of it! The tricky part is finding shelf space for everything, but hey – what a nice problem to have :-) My books – reading them, organizing them, just looking at them all over the place – make me very happy, & I won’t change anytime soon. Book Hoarders of the World, UNITE & READ ON!!!

  • Joe Higginbottom

    I am no hoarder, I am a Do It Yourself Librarian, a book lender, a bibliophile, friend and conservator of print. I constantly push books onto friends, give them away at yard sales, get my kids classmates to read. Maybe reading is a cult, one I’m willing to try to get everyone around me to join. I have a 5000 book collection, and that excludes my wife’s books, my children’s books, and stacks of coffee table books and magazines everywhere. That being said, I still visit the county libraries and check out 10 books a month, and cant stay away from used book stores. If my eyesight goes I will get audio books or hire neighborhood kids to read to me(keeps them off the streets).
    Ya, I love books, but don’t ever call me a hoarder!

  • Elizabeth Anne

    I’m in the process of changing jobs and moving states, and totally looking for an apartment with 2 bedrooms; one for me, and one for my books.

    • frogprof

      You say that like it’s not a normal thing … :)

    • abe1000

      All you people obviously live alone. Hoarders and that is what you are can not live with other. They too selfish.

  • Janet Stephens McCluskey

    Why, yes. Yes, I am a book hoarder. In fact, when we bought our house, I knew this was the one for us when we walked up the stairs to the second floor and saw a built-in, floor to ceiling, eight food wide set of shelves, already laden with books. We added the books to our offer, which was accepted and I was able to get a feel for the kind of woman the previous owner of our house (now deceased) had been. Of course, that built-in bookcase was not enough to house my collection. I too have books in every room, on the stairs and in boxes and a large bookcase full at our trailer for vacation reading, or in case I forget my e-reader charger when I go for the weekend. Like some of the other comments have mentioned though, I fear that if I was labelled by the assortment of genres on my shelves, I would be faced with a diagnosis of multiple personality disorder. Nice article – thank you!

  • Jean marie

    I’m not only a book hoarder, but now I seem to be hoarding Kindle ebooks too! Any free book I’m interested in, or may be interested in at some point, or that my children may want to read – I can’t turn ANY of them away! LOL Luckily my Kindle organizes my books without the need to buy yet another bookcase…which I do need to get around to for another growing pile of recent nonfiction purchases!

    • Ann Peck Abdelzaher

      me too!

  • Carlos Orellana

    im a book hoarder . Sadly i read half of a book then get another one. Bad habit.

  • Jan Hall

    I used to box up all the books I had read but I finally helped get a library at my church started. Now all my books at home in the bookshelves, under the bed and in drawers are too be read.

  • Denise

    I, too, have books in EVERY room of my house, stacks designated “to read,” “to re-read,” and “to keep,” and my house is frequently called “the library.” However, I do not care for the term “book hoarder.” It is a negative term, that implies the items being collected are worthless and/or garbage. I am a book lover, and regard books as some of my best friends. (By the way: yes, I have cats; and yes, I taught English and literature. However: yes, I am married; yes, I have children; yes, I daily socialize in the real world. Take THAT stereotypes!) Please do not encourage negative views of books and book lovers. I fought the battle every year with students who regarded reading as a feminine, nerdy activity in which no “real” guy/popular girl would ever participate. Nothing gave me greater delight than hearing from parents their non-reader had gotten hooked on the books I had recommended; nothing made me more downcast than the occasional failure to ignite a student’s interest. We need to be recognized as book lovers.

  • Keith Harrison

    They can take my books when they pry them from my cold, dead hands. (Actually, who am I kidding…… anyone tries to take my books and I will retrieve them from THEIR cold, dead hands 😉 )

    • abe1000

      You live alone Right?

  • disqus_ESkuLbtbeC

    I spent yesterday packing up my books in preparation for a move. We’ve moved a lot and only once in the last 5 moves have I tried to reduce my collection. Each time I pack ’em up I reflect on their beginning. Each of my children’s favorite bedtime story, a gift from my sister at High School graduation, a book of etiquette. Three remaining Bobbsey Twins books that have survived 65 years. Oh how I wish I had the rest of this collection. Some many memories. It does take me longer to pack than it would if paper and ink were just paper and ink.

  • Mary Hall Sheahan

    If we’re talking reality TV and books, how about “from hoard to library” where the home designers ACCEPT that people have a lot of books and help them redo their home to include them. I find it so frustrating when books are simply defined as clutter!

    • frogprof

      Or when books are “décor” ONLY. That just offends my sensibilities as a book lover.

  • Lulu S

    I think being called a book hoarder is a compliment.

  • Rebecca White

    I have a lot of books, but am not a book hoarder. Hoarding is a mental illness, when, as you say, you continuously keep or collect things which are damaging. “Does this keep you from achieving your goals, living life by your own standards of success, and from living a healthy life” are the questions that separate collecting from hoarding. Having stacks of books you can’t sort out, which are nasty and moldy so that you couldn’t read them anyway, or which are making the floor fall in is a problem. Just having a lot of books is not. It’s not a good idea to minimize the seriousness of a devastating mental illness by confusing it with a love of having books, which is one of the joys of my life as well.

  • Lisa Lee Bowring

    I have replaced almost my entire hoard with e-book. More economical space-wise, not so for the pursestrings. I do keep reference books, how-tos etc in hard copy because it’s much easier to find needed info in a physical book. I have over 3000 books on my hard drive and I add more almost daily now that I have discovered several sites that email book bargains. Thanks to my books I travel frequently and meet tons of new people all from the comfort of my home :)

  • Millie Dill

    yes im a horder. i love books and its like im in another world when in a book store. i lose track of time and everything lol

  • D3bgrRL

    I am not a book hoarder. I am a bibliophile. I expect a hoarder would acquire books randomly just to acquire books. Bibliophiles buy more selectively, and read what they buy (eventually). My books express my interests and passions, and are like old friends — they do much more than take up space. Bibliophiles unite!

  • william beilstein

    I once had 5000 paper back books packed up in boxes in my spare bedroom (filled the room). One day I couldn’t stand the clutter anymore and donated them to the Onondaga community college library. I then purchased a kindle and now have hundreds of books in my kindle and I am a much more relaxed person.

  • Holly Hardy

    I’m now in the process of going thru all of my books, dusting each one and then lovingly, regretfully, boxing them and putting them into storage til I get my housing thing figured out! I feel like I’ve lost my identity, but I still have piles of library books, so its bearable. Up to 52 boxes (fairly large boxes!) and counting.

  • Sarah Heerbrandt

    When my husband and I moved into a much smaller apartment, I was forced to part with YEARS worth of collecting (I donated them to local thrift stores, libraries, and hospitals – I’d rather cut off a limb than toss a book in the garbage). While I was heartbroken at the time, now I feel like I can start my love of reading all over again, with each new book carefully chosen and lovingly added to my shelf (because my husband thinks that a mere SHELF will be enough…foolish, foolish man…).

  • Cheryl Bemis

    Oh I am such a book hoarder! Love Fern Michaels, Mary Higgins Clark, Debbie Macomber,Iris Johansen and Nora Roberts, to name a few!

  • Kath K

    I use to be a hoarder, but I gave my daughter all my books. Now I get e books, you can say I’m a hoarder with those

  • Abie TFlo

    Im a slight hoarder. I just love the sight of books even if i dont read them. Got a growing pile of books. I started hoarding since college. I especially love used books. Those yellowing pages smells good!

    • abe1000

      Consider the people you live with. Don’t crowd them out

  • BelleZGamer

    One of my “book memories” (books are like Pensieves for me), is the page in the Titan’s Curse where Ares says “Yeah! Hey wait, who are you calling thick?” or something like that. I can’t remember the exact words, but whenever I read it I remember having my nose stuck in a book while hiking on a trail with my family, and eating at a Togo’s afterwards and still reading it.

  • abe1000

    Hoarders of books are an immense strain on their mates and family for obvious reasons and yet they don’t seem to realize it. No commenter here has acknowledged that filling their shared house with their books is a big imposition.

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