lotsofbooks Hoard (to): (v) [hawrd, hohrd] to accumulate for preservation, future use, etc., in a hidden or carefully guarded place

I have, in my home, close to 600 books filling various shelves and in many stacks, all designated as To Be Read. Applying some very rough math – if each book averages 300 pages and I can read one page per minute, that’s about five hours of reading per book. Multiplied by my 600 books, I’m looking at 3,000 hours worth of reading material. If I were to read nonstop with only an 8 hour sleeping break, it would take me 187 days to get through my reading material. Over half a year doing nothing else but reading!

When does a hobby or passion become an addiction? When does collecting become hoarding? And how close to crossing the line am I? Have I already crossed it?

Some clues are disconcerting. I keep building more bookshelves and filling them to overflowing. I’m actually surprised my neat-nik husband tolerates my stacks and hasn’t questioned the situation, as if it hasn’t dawned on him yet that there seem to be way more books than any one person can read in a reasonable amount of time.

And I confess, I get a tiny rush whenever I acquire a new book. Part anticipation for the story within and part relief that I won’t miss out on a great read if the book should ever go out of publication, this shopping high must be a cousin – or at least a very distant relation – to what drives people to drink or do drugs or to jump out of airplanes with nothing but a square of thin nylon fabric attached to their backs.

My real concern spikes when I discovered that I’ve just purchased or Paperback Swapped a book I already own. I have a pretty nifty app on my phone – BooksApp 2 Pro – that allows me to carry a list of my book library everywhere I go, but I often forget to check it. I end up with two copies of the same book and feeling pretty stupid. This has to mean I’ve got a serious problem, right?

Intellectually, I know that acquiring more books when I already have more than plenty to keep me happily occupied well into my later years is, if not unhealthy, at least self-indulgent. Yet whenever I come across a glowing review of a title that looks to be something I’d enjoy, my intellect takes a vacation and I add it to the pile.

Receiving a Christmas gift Nook has exacerbated the situation because with e-books, I don’t have the physical evidence that I already too much to read. Too, buying books has become so easy as to be ridiculous. The advent of Amazon meant I didn’t have to leave my home to have the new books that intrigued me. Now I don’t even have to hunt down my laptop or wait 3 to 5 days for shipping. I read a glowing review on a website, click a link, click to download a sample, and click to purchase. Four clicks and my TBR count climbs another notch.

I do have to say that I get tremendous satisfaction when I read one of my TBRs and move it from my “TBR” shelf on Goodreads to “Read”. That small accomplishment has to worth something, right? Except, I then feel perfectly justified in replacing said book, and since for me buying books is a lot like eating potato chips – I can’t stop at just one – the TBR pile never gets smaller.

I’ve tried various methods to curtail my problem: Avoiding the book aisles at Walmart, Target, the grocery store, Toll Road rest stops. Vowing that I can’t buy a new book until I’ve read at least two of my current ones. Using a wish list to keep track of potential future purchases so that I don’t have to worry I’ll forget that this book or that looked especially interesting. None of this works. The only real solution would be to cancel our home internet service so that I become ignorant of all of the amazing books being released every week. That’s not likely to happen.

So, do I have to worry that one day my friends will tune in to the A&E show Hoarders to find me buried beneath collapsing towers of books, my family begging me to let them clean out my unsafe home while I cry about how I can’t possibly part with a single title? For sure I don’t have to be concerned about boredom if a zombie apocalypse forces me to remain inside for months upon end. I’ll run out of food and water and they’ll find my emaciated corpse sitting in my comfy chair with a book in my hands, reading glasses perched on the end of my nose.

How about you? Is your TBR pile reasonable or, like me, do you often think about seeking out a support group to help you curb your problem?

– Jenna Harper