I promised myself this year I wouldn’t buy anymore books. The bookcases and shelves were bowing under the weight of so many books, they wouldn’t take anymore. I had moved on to filling storage boxes and then to piling books on the floor by my bed, sofa and desk.
Most people held maps of how to get to places in their memories, I had a map of where each book was in my house instead. If there was one title I wanted to read, I was able to go to the room and shelf or box or bookcase it was in and after browsing through, locate it.
Most of the time, I took my next book from a current reading pile and moved through them that way. When I went out, the book came too and so I was never without one. There was something comforting about the weight of a book in your bag and also if you needed to wait you could read for a bit.
I had calculated I had enough new books and ones I wanted to re-read that I didn’t need to buy anymore books for a few years. So, I thought to try and read what I had and save the money I would have spent on something else. So began my new year resolution.
Within a month I had broken it. There were two books I wanted that I had missed the release of. I brought them and told myself to get back on track. Another two months later and I went to an art and craft fair. I meet an self-published writer who hadn’t sold a book all day. I felt bad and so brought his book and also another which had been on my list for awhile.
I told the writer of my book buying ban and thought it a hard task to do. I agreed and said this was the second time I had broken it now but I was determined to keep trying. I told myself if temptation came again I was to turn away.
It didn’t work! A few weeks later, I found another book I couldn’t live without and had to buy it. A new addition to my library and other world to escape into when I got around to it.
Why couldn’t I stick to my ban? Why did I have no self control? Why was I so addicted?
I pressed a book to my face and breathed in deeply, loving the ink stained pages and weight in my hands. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t stop, I needed more books.
Vellichor; the strange wistfulness of used bookstores.
What is it about used book shops? You go, you browse, you pick up a few books, you read a few pages, sometimes you buy book/s and other times you don’t. You might stay for coffee if they have a cafe. It’s a meeting place, a talking point, a land of discovery.
You like the smells that whiffed from the shelves; old ink, yellowing pages, dusty attic, dampness and salty tang. You like running your fingers over cracked spines and flattened leather. You like pulling random books out and seeing what they are. You wonder who the previous owner/s and why they give this book up.
You enjoy a good mystery and there is always just more then the story inside to be had. You adore supernatural and horror too; ghosts give you chills and vampires have you shaking at your knees. You love adventures to far off lands or under deep seas or high in the sky. Science fiction always makes you ponder if this is what the future will really look like even though it’s your less favourite.
If you could you’d live in the used book shops. In fact, your home is slowly turning into one. Your bedroom is floor to ceiling with books! You’ve read most of them, but there are others still waiting to be read and still you go to the used book shop to see more. It’s an addiction, a terrible terrible addiction and yet, its harmless.
Bibliomania: obsessive–compulsive disorder which involves the collecting or hoarding of books.
It was an addiction she told herself, but surely it had to be one of the better ones? No harm had ever come to her, beside from a paper cut, a handful of scary dreams and the one time she almost tripped. It wasn’t the same as being completely obsessive with clothes, shoes and designer labels like some of her friends were. Nor, did she feel that she was spending all of her money or wasting it. In fact, she felt that it enriched her life. She could travel to so many counties and worlds, different periods of time and meet a whole range of peoples. Also, she liked experiencing the full spectrum of emotions without the events truly happening to her.
She couldn’t stop herself from going into shops to search amongst the shelves or looking through crumbled cardboard boxes outside and inside. She never seemed to be looking for anything in particular; just whatever grabbed her and her hands picked up. She would take them home and find a place within her steadily filling up rented house. That was all she seemed to have a first glance. There was no TV or dining room table, but she had a computer, a desk and everything else. Each room also had a category and her organisation was based on the library one – the Dewey Decimal system.
She did actually spend nearly all of her free time reading, so it wasn’t as if they were just left for years on end. The issue was separation when she came to the end. There were some she could never be parted from and others she could easily be, but she just couldn’t release them. She panicked about what would happen to them and where would they end up. The idea that they could be burnt or abandoned in the rubbish dump tortured her, so she only tended to let one go if she had first assured herself about its new owner. If she didn’t feel so attached them, she had once told herself, she would turn her house into a public library.
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