Some people collect stamps, some collect coins or comics, my husband clearly collects toys. It seems that I collect books. I think this might be a trait inherited from my grandmother. You could barely move in her bedroom without knocking over piles of books. There was a neat little path from the door to the bed, from the bed to the wardrobe and the wardrobe to the window, with the rest of the room filled with books, sometimes stacked 15 to a pile. I’m fairly sure that she had read most of them.
My love of books, and reading, supposedly began at a very young age (I’m told that I was asking to be taught to read before I was three years old) and has only increased through the years. There’s just something about books that makes me exceptionally happy. I do own a Kindle, which is great for cheap reads and to take away on holiday – it’s so small and light, it leaves so much room for duty free bargains – but nothing quite compares to the feeling of holding a real book in your hands, especially if it’s well loved and has that beautiful, old book smell.
I would never class myself as a ‘hoarder’ because I can be quite ruthless when it comes to getting rid of unnecessary stuff but, when it comes to books, I think ‘hoard’ would be a polite way to describe my collection. I genuinely didn’t realise how many I owned until we recently had to empty the ‘spare bedroom’ (it is no longer ‘spare’ since Arthur’s arrival) and I had to part with a huge chunk of my library. They were mainly my grandmother’s books which I inherited after she passed away and, if I was honest with myself, it was unlikely that I would ever read them. They were mostly Catherine Cookson, Danielle Steel and others like them; I prefer Stephen King, so quite different genres; but I just didn’t want to say goodbye to them. My argument was (and always is) that “one day I will have my own library and I will need to fill it!” We live in a 3-bed semi-detached house. I don’t know what planet I’m on, but I’m adamant that I will have my library eventually.
The books had to go. I sold some and gave some away. Sadly, most charity shops refuse paperback novels such as these nowadays as there are just so many out there, they don’t sell and, sometimes, end up just being destroyed. Heart-breaking. I parted with over 200 books that week and have probably close to another 200 still in my possession. Those are the non-negotiables, with my Stephen King Collection being the largest part of my library.
People often say that you should read before bed; it’s supposed to calm the brain and help you drift off to dreamland. It doesn’t work for me. If I read before bed, I won’t sleep. “Just one more chapter” I whisper to myself in the dark, until it is 2am and I have four chapters to go. Who puts their book down with four chapters to go? Not me. So, I will finish the book and, let me tell you, finishing a Stephen King book at 3 o’clock in the morning when the house is quiet and the world is still, is not a great decision. Anyone who has read ‘Gerald’s Game’ will know why my eyes stayed well away from the corner of my bedroom the night I finished that book. I could write an essay on why I think that Stephen King is the greatest author of our time, possibly of all time, and I just might. But I only have 350 words left in this article, and that’s just not enough for that particular topic.
As well as Stephen King, I also have quite a few books by Cecelia Ahern, Jodi Picoult. Ken Follet and Agatha Christie. A weird mix, I know. One of those books changed my life – ‘Small Great Things’ by Jodi Picoult. It’s emotional, honest, beautifully written, gripping and, despite the story being fiction, a lot is based on truth. It really is life changing; I highly recommend it. I also recommend ‘Eye of the Needle’ by Ken Follet if you like to be on the edge of your seat. It’s one of those books that you have to put down just so you can collect yourself, but then have pick it up very soon after because you just need to know what happens!
With life being so busy at the moment, I haven’t had time to even think about reading but, once things settle down a bit, I will definitely get my head back into my books. My current ‘to be read’ pile is bigger than my ‘already read’ pile and, still, that doesn’t stop me from buying more books whenever I see one I fancy. I wonder if there’s a support group somewhere out there, for book lovers who are addicted to buying books? Maybe I could start one myself one day and, perhaps, I could host the meetings from my very own library…
For anyone with a 'bookish' problem: Independent Bookshop Week 2023 will take place Saturday 17th - Saturday 24th June