Why Do I Buy More Books Than I Could Ever Possibly Read?

From Inside the Mind of a Bibliophile

Photo Credit: Me at The Haunted Bookshop in Iowa City

The weekend was spent running errands and doing chores. By Sunday afternoon it was finally time to relax. That’s when it began to snow. The weather had been predicting a snowstorm throughout the week. Snowflakes danced outside my bedroom window collecting and accumulating on what should be spring but has yet to blossom.

There’s no better time or excuse to snuggle under the warmth of the blankets and read and I had the perfect book in mind. The 1955 edition of Blizzard, written by Phil Stong about a family hunkered down during a blizzard in the early 1900’s on their farm in Iowa, fictitiously located not far from my own home.

I had purchased the book at The Haunted Bookshop in Iowa City shortly after moving to Iowa in the fall of 2016. My interest in books change with the tide of my own life experiences or my curiosities at the time. The book sat on a shelf in my personal home library with hundreds of other books waiting until the right moment to be read.

There’s always right moments. They just happen, therefore making it impossible for me to determine when they will just happen.

I own more books than I could ever imagine reading. Not to say I don’t read many of them. I read daily but if I know I’ll never read every single book I own, why do I continue to buy more?

There’s many reasons and well justified.

I believe by having such an extensive personal library I leave the door open to be curious. It’s unlikely I would purchase a book on a topic that I already know a great deal about. These books represent all the things I have yet to learn. I have an unintentional goal of learning every day, of consistently evolving and bettering myself.

It could be said purchasing so many books is a symptom of the manic episodes I experience. It’s typical to spend more than we can afford, engage in risky behavior and lack in self care during bouts of mania. Instead, I funnel that energy into the irrational need to possess more books. While mental illness carries a stigma that we are potentially a danger to ourselves or others I have more books than any person could ever read.

When the waves of mania crash, so do I.

Books have been my savor during the most unbearable bouts of depression. When I’m riddled with anxiety, blanketed in fear or too far adrift to leave the house, fiction carries me off on adventures while travel books take me away to places I might otherwise never see. I can bury myself deep inside pages where I feel safest and as if I belong. Books alleviate sadness and ease the torturous pain of loneliness. Characters become my friends and exotic beaches my safe haven.

I’ve never actually counted the books I own thus far. I’m guessing hundreds but it could be thousands. There is a library on the main floor of my house. Once that room was filled with books I began to fill my home office, then my bedroom and now my workshop. I recently cleared out a spare room with the sole intention of having more space for more books. I purchased six books just last week.

As my personal space closes in around me I feel a sense of freedom in books. I can become anything or anyone I want to be. If I want to learn how to cook I can read a book. If I want to improve my ability to communicate I can read a book. If I want to experience the emotions affiliated with a hot, steamy love affair I can read a book. If I want to learn how to fully live off the grid I can find that information inside a book.

There is an endless amount of knowledge contained inside the pages of books and when we open their cover we free this knowledge and absorb possibilities.

Do you want to learn about life on other planets? Read a book. The history of Jerusalem? Read a book. Wood carving? Survival skills? Fashion design? The architecture of the late 1800's? Read a book. It’s all there inside those pages. By borderline hoarding books I have all of this knowledge here, in my home waiting to be discovered.

Books are a resource and reference material. I may never read every page but there will be times when I’ll utilize information in hopes of evolving, growing and expanding my views and opinions.

As the years go by, as I purchase and collect more books I also grow older. Someday I will be too old to function as I once had in younger years. Someday my time will be spent waiting to pass me by and I’ll find comfort in never having to leave my home. Because all I have yet to learn, all the journeys I still have yet to take will be here for me eagerly calling to me, similar to how they called to me the day I purchased each one and placed it on those shelves.

Books represent the hard work, creativity, imagination, passion, research and experiences of those who wrote them, and of who I truly wish to be.

My own Iowa home during a blizzard

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Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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