Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Too Many Books?

Is there such a thing, ever, as having too many books?  Reason stifles an enthusiastic NO! and I immediately think of many situations where there could indeed be too many books.  These are the things that Reason uses against Enthusiasm in my head:  (a.k.a. join my insanity which I fondly dub Reason)

  • if they were all books about tapeworms (gag) any amount would be too many
  • if I wasn't allowed to touch/look at/feel/read/talk about/experience any of them, a multitude of books would be unbearable.
  • if there were no longer any places in my home available for oxygen, that might be a problem.
(hey, is Reason allowed to use what-ifs?  I may have to talk some logic into Reason.)

And yes...the previous example is very much what it is like to be inside my head.  It's a bit frightening.

All extremes and preposterousness aside, though, I have a very real and constant struggle with acquiring too many books.  For me, if I'm bringing in more books than I'm reading (or have any hope of being able to read in the foreseeable future) that may be too many.  I wish it weren't so.  I wish that I could line the walls of my house with all the books on my wishlist and not feel the slightest qualm about it.  I wish the unread books on my shelves weren't subject to depreciation.

It's like a vehicle.  You buy it for $X and as soon as you drive it off the lot it is worth $halfX.  Two years later is worth $negativeX.  I buy a book with Great Intentions and as soon as I move it onto the shelf it only retains Wishful Thinking.  Two years later it's being considered for the chopping block just so that I don't feel so Guilty.

For this reason, I try very hard to read the books that come into my house in a timely manner.  If there are too many in any particular month, they get taken off the end table/night stand and consigned to the shelf where (like Toy Story 3) these once-prized-possessions begin their melancholy existence.

All this rambling is simply prologue to the important matter at hand, namely: New Books! (see? Enthusiasm has won out after all!)  While it may occasionally be overwhelming, and while my end table is currently boasting a stack of books 2 Feet Tall, I'm still always so excited to get new books.  So, here's what got added to the stack in the last couple 'o weeks:

That Night
This WAS going to be the next book club book...
...until this one was chosen instead.
The Stolen Village, Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates
Noticed this while in Ireland...sounds fascinating!
Girl, Interrupted
Recommended by Wallace @ Unputdownables
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
Because I loved The Lover's Dictionary (this one wasn't as good)
Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within
"A Guide for the Poet Within" --I seem to like writing poetry more than reading it.  ???
From LibraryThing's Early Reviewer Program: Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb
Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb
Unbridled Books! I was planning on buying this anyhow [crossing fingers & hoping it's wonderful]
From the Library (because I wasn't up to buying them): The Tortilla Curtain, The Weird Sisters
The Tortilla Curtain
For book club: couldn't get past p.100...too dramatic and opinionated for me
The Weird Sisters
Looking forward to this one!
The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood
An Irish Memoir--sold!
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel
Don't know anything about this one--pretty cover though!
Paris to the Moon
Don't know anything about this one either--opinions?

So there you have it.  12 new books in the last week or two, and I read 10 books in the whole month.  I'm upside-down--it's a little overwhelming after all.


  1. I loved Miss Entropia and Weird Sisters! You have some good books there (so don't worry about it being too many)! :)

  2. Love your book choices. When my bookshelves get too crowded I share my books with friends. One can never have too many books.

  3. I really enjoyed this post. No, one can never have too many books !!!

  4. I've decided not to feel guilty about the TBR. I stopped seeing them as something of which I have more than I can consume (which would make getting them selfish and irrational) and think of them as objects I like to have around me, like a fun collection or flowers.

    I loved looking at the TBR, more than the book I've read - so many possibilities!

  5. I think this post is definitely relevant to my day. I picked up 11 books from a library book sale in my area earlier today and then an international student from my college brought in some books that he didn't know what to do with and I ended up with five more. In one day alone I acquired sixteen new books. I can't say that that's too many, especially since all told they cost me less than $6, but when taken in the context of all the unread books that still sit on my shelves at home, I guess I could say that I'm on the way to having too many books.

    That's why I'm giving myself a goal of reading at least 35 books that I already own this year. It's a start at least.

  6. I loved reading this post! Too many books is a wonderful problem to have don't you think? It never ends. I have recently decided to finish reading books that I have started and abandoned beside the bed, but that of course doesn't stop me buying or borrowing more. My discipline for completing all older books may last for a while, but I do honestly feel that the haphazard, and at times frenzied, nature of book accumulation is really part of the fun.

  7. Aths, it's definitely easier to let go of accumulation worries when you know you have some good ones in the stack!

    Thanks Doris, and I agree that sharing books really does help...I just need to know more people who plow through books. :)

    Laura, yep--that's what it boils down to!

    Alexandra, I love your view on what your bookshelves hold. I wish it was easier for me to be like that! There are some books that have been on my shelves for a very long time that I still really long to read, but others begin to sound uninteresting as I move into different phases in my reading. Still, the possibilities!

    Gabriel, well you certainly made me feel better. ;) Good point about the cost ratio though--if the cost is so minimal then it isn't that big of a deal. I did set a goal of reading books that had been on my shelf too long...but I forget what it was...obv. haven't done very well. :)

    Mel, I totally agree that it isn't a stressful upheaval. I'd much rather have book-accumulation-stress than any other kind of stress! Books really are a delight, getting new books is never tiring!

  8. You'll never be upside down with too many books. You will only stand taller (if you stack them under your feet that is). I love a ton of what you brought home. Happy reading!

  9. I love that thought Belle! There is a bunch of good stuff here...really, I should be letting myself feel joy, not pressure! sheesh! :)

  10. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a glorious book. It also has a gorgeous Chinese-made film that complements it well. Beautifully written book and the cover is one of my favourites.

  11. Teacher/Learner, thanks so much for your comment! I'm glad to know that I have something to look forward to behind the pretty cover.


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