Friday, June 25, 2010

Weekly Geeks: Book Hoarding

It has been quite a while since I have participated in a Weekly Geeks question.  It seems that the weekly question always addressed an issue that I had just covered and I did not want to be redundant.  However this week's question certainly hits a nerve:

I am curious about those gigantic TBR piles which readers tend to accumulate. Please share with us your habits, tendencies or obsessions when it comes to hoarding behavior.
  • Post a photo (or two or three) of your books to-be-read
  • Share your buying or book accumulating habits - how bad of a problem do YOU have?!?!?
  • Do you keep all the books you've read, or do you give them away or sell them?
  • Can you walk past a bookstore and not go in? If you go in, do you impulsively purchase?

First of all, I would not classify myself as a hoarder.  I am too fond of organization and clutter-free environments to allow myself to go that far.  I am not a very sentimental person either, so I will often go through phases where I need to "toss and pitch" various items in the house in order to give myself more breathing room.

I have never been much for collections.  In high school I toyed with the idea of collecting unicorns, but that didn't last long.  I do tend to collect postcards when I travel, but those are easily stored and serve a practical purpose.  My mom used to collect angels for years and years...and while I have always enjoyed her angel room, my first thoughts tend to run towards, "How do you keep all of those knick-knacks dusted?"  So no, I do not tend to collect, or hoard, or stash away.


Since I discovered the wonderful world of book blogs about 20 months ago, I have probably tripled (maybe even quadrupled) my personal library collection!  While I have always enjoyed reading, I did not really allow myself to do so while raising young children:  there always seemed to be something more pressing to do.  Once I started teaching in 2001, I began to slowly add books to the barren shelves.  Novels that I would be using in the classroom were the first to take up residence, and then slowly but surely books to help me teach those novels would also be added.  I then discovered the sub-category of "Books on Books" that I quickly devoured -- I had no idea that so much had been written on the subject of literary criticism!  Well, this led to further non-fiction interests like "Reading like a Writer" and then writing in general.

I would occasionally allow myself to browse through the new releases, but I was hesitant to spend money on a hardback book that I was not sure I would enjoy.  Ah...but then all of you came to my rescue!

You would review all of these new books in such a way that I not only knew that I would like the book - but I absolutely had to have the book right now!  I would read your back posts and discover "new" books of two or three or five years ago that I also had to have.  I would take notes on your posts and write down any mention of books that you found similar to the one being reviewed.  I would write down new-to-me authors and then research their oeuvre, knowing that if they wrote a series, I would have to start with the first one.

Shortly after finding the blogisphere, I discovered the competitive sport of Book Challenges -- fed by the glorious blog, A Novel Challenge.  This opened up another door for me to expand my literary horizons and add to my overflowing shelves.  You have such a way of exciting the reader in me, that I simply cannot say no.  I am somehow intrigued by challenges that focus on genres that I normally do not care for:  The Once Upon a Time Challenge (fantasy has always been difficult for this realist to grasp) - the Graphic Novel Challenge (still difficult for me, but I continue to persevere); and I am hypnotized by challenges that are tailor-made for my reading interests:  Everything Austen and RIP are the first ones that come to mind.  Joining these challenges causes the TBR list to expand exponentially!

Now the positive side of all this book lust is that my family is never at a loss for what to buy me for Christmas,  Birthday, Mother's Day, etc.  A gift card to any bookstore will always yield squeals of delight and hours of enjoyment.

To give you an idea of how much my personal collection has grown over these past few months - view the photos of my bookshelves taken in February, 2009, and compare them to the photos here.  I may not be a hoarder - yet - but I do have an obsession.  So much so that I did a search for used bookstores in Chicago before we left town.  I discovered that there is a Powell's in Chicago - as well as Myopic Books.  Not quite sure my husband had planned on making those kind of scenic stops on this anniversary weekend!


  1. You sound alot like me. I like organization, with everything in its place. I don't "collect" anything either. But on the topic of books, it all flies out the window. I would bet that just about all of us bloggers are book hoarders. My husband doesn't understand when I get another book. He says "you need to read the two or three hundred books that you already have!". No no no! I NEED this one! You know, just in case!

  2. Molly.....I'm shocked!! Not really, your many books look so very neat,

    I have 700++ book ( <750 though) last count about 4 weeks ago. I took a good inventory at that tome that too me a good 6 hours...sick huh?

    I only have about 10 books that have been read and kept. I giveaway to family, friends or library after I've read the books.

  3. I hold my hands up to being a book addict and most definitely a book hoarder. Now in desperate need of two new sets of shelves.

  4. Oh, Molly, I just loved this post and saw much of myself in it. I am, however, a collector (I cringe at hoarder, though I may be in denial). I love Tasha Tudor and she has her own shelves and Louisa May Alcott holds a place of honor, but, lest I ramble, if you read this before you get to Chicago, you should go to Printer's Row Books on Dearborn, which is short distance south of the Art Institute. It is an antiquarian bookstore with such wonderful old books behind cabinets and doors and an absolute delight to be in.

  5. To me, hoarding is more of an emotional problem and the objects being hoarded are mostly worthless and unnecessary. My book collection is a point of pride for me, and it is always in flux. I am constantly receiving and sending books, lending and giving. No one would say that the Library of Congress is a problem, right? So what if we have mountains of books--I'm sure that they will be read at some point!

    Interesting post--thanks for sharing your shelves!

  6. Great photos! I love seeing book collections! :)

  7. LOL, Molly - you know, the first step with any problem is admitting you HAVE a problem!! I love your photos...your house looks surprisingly like mine ;)

  8. I don't consider myself to be a hoarder, except when it comes to books. I really do need to get better about getting rid of those I know I'll never read again.

  9. Holy cow....there is a Powell's in Chicago???? I had no idea. One of my big events each year is taking my empty suitcase, catching the 30 minute flight to Portland and buying books to fill my suitcase and fly home.

    I have an apartment in Chicago for work, though, and would love to visit the store there.....I'm hoping it's accessible by the train!

  10. That is quite a book collection you've got there!

  11. I share your obsession with books but have seriously cut down on the number I keep in my personal library. Hopefully someday I'll have a whole room that I can make into a library. At that point I don't think anything will stop me from having thousands around again.

  12. excellent post, i'm kind of a hoarder too.

  13. LOL, sounds like someone's got the book bug! :-)

  14. Oh, Molly, I really enjoyed reading about your expanding TBR stacks!

    I did a post awhile back (Sept. 2009), with photos, describing my out-of-control stacks.

    I even created a blog to deal with that problem (

    I have whittled some books off those original stacks, but I have created new stacks with review books and contest wins that keep coming out of the woodwork.

    I'll have to do a new post with new photos!

    Here's the link to that post:

  15. I've found the same "problem" with adding books to the wishlist or "bought" or "swapped" list since I started blogging. It does (good) things to your bookshelves!

  16. My family has seen all of my book piles and refused to buy me any new books for my birthday and Christmas. Boo-hoo!


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