Too Many Books? Here’s Help To Relieve Your Guilt.

There’s a nice piece by Beth Carswell at AbeBooks directed at those people who collect books like under-the-bed collects dust bunnies and who never get around to reading most of them. Read it. It will help relieve your guilt, make you feel better about yourself, and let you feel okay about piling up more unread books.

Books 007

Books 006

Books 003

These images are from the home of a serious offender, representing perhaps one tenth of the collection. It is tragic that there is no treatment for this condition. Ah, well, we all have our little curses, don’t we? Books aren’t so bad. After all, some poor souls collect dead insects and small mammals.   


27 Responses

  1. I wanna know, have you read the I Ching, World of Fire, Windows Vista, and Doubt?

    I’m jealous of all those reference books. Wow. I’ve got the Oxford Unabridged, too. A fave. 🙂


    • I have the Oxford Unabridged? Wait, where do you see that?

      Doubt is on my list of reads I doubt I’ll get to anytime soon. Haven’t read WoF. I Ching is a dip- into-book for now and again. The Vista reference is for emergencies.

      Where the hell is the OU? Maybe you mean the New Shorter OED? Or the New Oxford American?

      Are you familiar with LibraryThing?


    • I should point out these pix are about a year old…


  2. Wow. If those bookshelves were brown, I’d think someone had broken into my house and gotten the goods on me.


    • Maybe I’ve been sneaking into your house and spiriting books away a couple at a time? I’m evil, you know. 😈


  3. Ha! You call THAT a collection? Try three rooms full of bookshelves double-stacked. I did manage to make myself get rid of my college texts once the the interwebz came along, though.

    I keep trying to weed through them and cull the chaff (I blame the clearance racks at Half-Price Books), but I end up finding a lost treasure and re-reading it… I even have difficulty getting rid of authors I don’t like anymore because they remind me of who the younger me was like. The bookshelves surrounding the fireplace are filled with old Hungarian books I inherited from my parents, but they add to the Arts and Crafts ambience in addition to having sentimental value.

    I can’t imagine a home without lots of books surrounding me. My version of a security blanket.


    • “I can’t imagine a home without lots of books surrounding me. My version of a security blanket.”

      I have that exact same feeling. Homes without books are, well, scary.

      But lest you continue to think I’m a piker in this regard, consider that I have in two rooms about three thousand books. Sometimes, when I’ve gone without coffee for too long, I think that I buy them so that I will live forever, because being immortal is the only way I will ever catch up on my reading. Or even my browsing. 🙂

      On the other hand… there’s mortality .


      • Dammit, did you have to link to that on a gloomy late-winter day?

        (shake it off, ildi, shake it off…)

        Well, I can always gain transient fame by making the news as the little old lady found half-eaten by her various dogs and cats (way, way in the future, of course!)

        Meanwhile there’s my book collection and my music collection and my shoe collection and my garden and my friends and my pets and the local bands I follow… (order of importance changing from day to day). I noticed I left family off, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!

        Funny thing is, the sky-daddy myth still doesn’t sound like an appealing story anymore. I seek immortality through the continuation of the species, though I personally haven’t added to the gene pool. Even though I won’t be around to see it (peering down through a window in heaven, like I imagined it as a child), I’m really rooting for homo sapiens, or whatever we evolve into over a couple million more years. I’m rooting for us to get past killing ourselves off through global war or habitat destruction, and learning valuable lessons in the process for expanding into the universe.

        I’m a Star Trek baby; Roddenberry’s vision is my utopia.

        There, back to my happy place.


        • Oh it wasn’t that bad. After all, look where the conversation ended up, with scotch and cigars – not that I indulge in either – but in a literal metaphoricky way that was an upbeat finish. (Maybe it was literally metaphoric – haven’t worked that out yet.)

          And don’t forget gaining fame as the little lady who got crushed by falling books because she couldn’t find her way out of the maze of bookcases when the earthquake came. Kind of like those two brothers in New York with a million years worth of newspapers stacked throughout their apartment. There are a lot of possibilities in owning tons of books. There’s crushing, fire, mold, tiny paper-eating insects, allergies. Oh, and reading and knowledge too. 🙂

          As for homo stupidus… I’m coming to the conclusion that rooting for our species to succeed is to root for everything else on the planet to die. And to take the cheap tack on Roddenberry’s vision, though I am a fan of the various Star Trek morphs, a big part of it seemed to have to do with women running around space in skimpy skirts and spandex body suits. Maybe that was just Hollywood feeling anxious about the numbers. I will no doubt be forever grateful for ‘7 of 9’, however. Given what’s happening today, I think Roddenberry’s optimism was misplaced. It’d be nice if everybody was born into secure food, good health care, good education, and meaningful work. But the more people that are born, the more go hungry, suffer disease, grow in ignorance, and can’t get work to make a living. Which puts more of the ignorant into politics where they have a say, and have power. Why, shucks, just look at the U.S. Congress. A good look at that will blow the hell out anybody’s happy place.

          I’m sure I can find some other posts on GL to challenge your happy space. One of The Lion’s mottoes is ‘Leave no happy space unturned’. But if you despise Republicans, GL should keep you thrilling in your happy space.

          Sky daddy? Yeah, wasn’t there a TV program years ago about that guy? /Sky King/, wasn’t it? Or was that an airplane infomercial? Hard to tell them apart anymore.

          Anyway, I’m babbling. I think I’m trying to avoid doing anything useful and productive today. I’m glad you could help. 🙂


          • Why, shucks, just look at the U.S. Congress. A good look at that will blow the hell out anybody’s happy place.

            Lalalalala! I can’t hear you!

            (fingers in ears)

            Well, maybe the Democrats will finally gird their loins and do whatever it takes, including budget reconciliation, to get health care reform passed; if not the public option, then at least the triad of mandatory insurance/no exclusion for pre-existing condition/subsidies.

            I don’t think you’re looking big-picture enough. While it’s true that there is plenty of starvation, disease and ignorance to go around, the average has increased significantly. The average American lives a life of pain-free well-fed climate-controlled luxury a feudal noble couldn’t have even imagined.

            Star Trek had something for everyone… my first crush was on the young pre-spandex Captain Kirk, – so dashing, so results-oriented!

            NPR just had a story this morning about how middle-aged people have trouble multi-tasking… just sayin’…

            I’m curious; how narrow can the column get with the reply feature? Does it go down to one-character width eventually? Inquiring (and procrastinating) minds want to know…


            • Hmmm – getting thinner………

              The average American may live like a king compared to a feudal noble, but he is also a minority in the world. Even so, the health statistics of American civilization rank near the bottom of industrialized countries. We have thirty million hungry people, nearly fifty million whose access to health care is limited or non-existent, yada yada yada. I’m really not sure what the ‘average’ American lives like any more.

              I think the health insurance reform bill (!) is going to stumble in the courts over the mandatory purchase provision. The fact that the insurance pirates insisted on mandates suggests that the health care system is broken beyond repair. If they were offering a reasonable product, fairly delivered, they wouldn’t need mandates.

              My favorite in the Kirk era was the blonde ensign, Janice Rand, I think. I’m pretty sure she and Kirk had a thing going on, even though her job seemed mostly to hand him things to sign or read.

              As for multi-tasking, I’m assured by the science community that it’s not possible. We do one thing at a time, in the brain, chopping multiple tasks into pieces so the brain can do each piece. Multi-taskers generally don’t do any one thing well in their MT set.

              Interesting news story on the TV…. What was I talking about…?

              Oh, yeah, I’m working on my procrastination skills today. I’m getting seriously proficient.


      • Did you catch “The Suicide Tourist” on Frontline last night? Powerful stuff. It was a subset of the 2007 documentary by John Zaritsky about the Dignitas Institute in Switzerland. They followed Craig Ewert, who was suffering from ALS, and his decision to choose to die before he became totally paralyzed.


        • Missed it. But two people on my street have died of ALS. Scary, but odd disease – look at Stephen Hawking.


  4. No more reply button! I guess half-width is the limit.

    Since you’re determined to harsh my Pollyanna buzz, I’m off to save the world by creating some charts and tables.

    Meanwhile, here’s a little ditty by Brian Eno to lighten the mood: Bone Bomb


    • Oooh, charts and tables. About what?


      • Brownfield cleanup and redevelopment. I’m a tech writer. Very exciting. Don’t tell anyone, or the mystique will be gone.


        • I was almost a tech writer back in the day, after being a reporter and some other stuff. Things worked out differently. Now I’m a… uh… umm… yeah, is this that multitasking thing again?


          • Yeah, I fell into it, but it’s a good fit. I originally studied to be a professor, but the self-discipline just wasn’t there, and I’m more of a big-picture person anyway. I would have loved to have been a Renaissance Man… (except for the lack of modern medicine and sanitation).

            I like the challenge of translating technical and scientific concepts for the layperson, and I get to do training (teaching was my favorite part of grad school).

            Also, did I mention it pays the bills?


            • I’ve heard of self-discipline, but I thought most states and cities had outlawed it.

              In any event, it doesn’t work for me, though when it comes to procrastinating, I’m very disciplined. A person’s got to be proud of something.


            • There’s definitely a need for translating things that use polysyllabic words like ‘pollution’ and ‘global warming’ into something the average American can understand.

              Aside from my snark, I know what you mean. There’s satisfaction in turning Techlish into English.


    • Eno.

      Stunning piece.


  5. Curious and with all seriousness. Do you know what you actually own?


    • Hey, Alfie, how ya been?

      Most of it. I couldn’t recite chapter and verse (is that tending toward punnishness?) but I can find stuff when I want. Most of the time anyway. 🙂

      I’ve been cataloging the collection at LibraryThing. I’m about a third of the way through. I’d have finished long ago, because they make it easy, but I’m lazy and distractable.


  6. My pile of unread books has now been joined by the unread books on my Kindle.
    And what exactly is the problem with collecting dead insects?
    I still have my college entomology textbooks from thirty years ago. Plus shelves and shelves of books collected since grade school. Can’t bear to part with any of them.


    • Ah, the best of both worlds. Probably lots of dead insects in those old books. 🙂


  7. Plenty of live ones, too. Liposcelids. Cute little things that love books, too. I don’t mind sharing.


    • Bughearted of you.



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