My name is Rachael, and I have a problem.
Not newspapers or Legos or Precious Moments figurines. No, the object of my hoarding obsession is heavier, more expensive (for the most part) and much, much more addictive than these things.
You see, I hoard books.
My apartment is filled with them.
I have books coming out the ying-yang. (Even if I’ve never been able to exactly identify what a ying-yang is…though I can take a pretty safe, NSFW guess.)
I’m at that stage of book hoarding where my friends and family refuse to help me move from residence to residence. Professional movers have either listed me under “No calls accepted” or they gave me a specialized ringtone that features the O’Jays singing “Money, money, money, money” each time I call.
And I move pretty frequently.
Everywhere I go, I pick up new books. Sometimes I pay for them. Sometimes they are given to me. Sometimes, I see them, alone and neglected on the New Reads shelf at the library, and I just can’t walk away.
Imagine walking into the pound or a pet store and that adorable baby animal you are obsessed with is just sitting there, staring at you through the glass, begging you with its sweet little face to take it home.
This happens to me with every book I pass.
It’s a problem.
Every now and again, I do the unthinkable. I cull my library.
I’ve done it two, maybe three times in my adult life. Sometimes, I’m organized about it. In graduate school, I made a spreadsheet with titles and authors. I carefully color-coded things so I knew what I had sold on Amazon and what I hadn’t sold at all.
Why yes, it was the end of the semester! Yes! I was procrastinating both grading my students’ papers and writing my own! However did you know?
Other times, I’m less organized about it…usually around the time I’m set to pack up and move somewhere. Then I sit on the floor, surrounded by packing tape, cardboard boxes and a Rubbermaid container I’m filling with the books I’ve decided are not worthy of being carted off to my next home. These I take to whatever used bookstore will have them. If I live in one place for too long, the staff at these stores get to know me by name and will stop me before I bring in more than one load of books.
“No Rachael, we can’t take this many this week.”
Usually it’s a question of volume rather than quality. No one has ever actually insulted my literary taste. Well, except for when I tried to offload my Twilight collection on an unassuming bookseller in Cambridge. He snorted and handed them back to me with a smirk.
There’s a constant stack of books on my bedside table. I sleep in fear of it, completely convinced that someday it will actually topple over and suffocate me in my dreams.
This is utter nonsense of course. In college, I regularly slept under my books and survived to tell the tale. I even remember my roommate walking in with a friend late one night and overhearing, “Seriously, she can sleep like that?” from under a small forest of textbooks.
There’s a recovery program for people like me, right? I can hope to someday kick this addiction? I will someday wake up to a calm, ordered home with books that decorate the shelves and space but don’t overwhelm it?
Please? Someone tell me that there’s hope…
Photo credit Susanna Cole’s tumblr