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?