We Have A Problem With Books

 Gotta Catch Them All

I have deeply loved books since I was very small, even if it was just the amazing A3 sized(ish) art book my Dad has with paintings by Bosch and the agonising cleverness of Escher. Once I’d gotten over the minor hurdle of actually reading I discovered something I was quite good at, and wanted more of. I remember devouring Enid Blyton, and the particular shame of wasting my hard-earned book tokens on a crappy Faraway Tree book that was more than half pictures. I still feel a fool. But I had to have it – I’d read all the others and desperately wanted to consume more of Silky and Moon Face. Gosh that sounds odd, writing as an adult. At six it felt perfectly reasonable but I’m surprised the disappointment has stayed with me.

Then there were Doctor Who books, although I had to stop after reading an especially terrifying tale involving giant spiders. I can’t remember the title but I’m sure it was one of the Terrance Dicks ones. I loved the Hardy Boys (I still have The Twisted Claw) and eventually had about 70% of them; they were not that easy to get. One of my favourites is The Hardy Boys Survival Guide which teaches you how to make innumerable life-saving devices in the desert out of car wheels. Genius. I cheerfully dived through The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings when I was about 9 and started to get a feel for the fantasyish stuff. There was plenty of sci-fi at home though – Asimov and Clarke were everywhere and I got my first hit of Wyndham.

I’m not sure what I was reading after that, but I do recall the manias for acquiring every book by an author kicking in soon afterwards. It probably coincided with discovering that second hand bookshops offer very reasonably priced books and it feels like discount bookshops appeared when I was about twelve. So I bounded into Eddings and Moorcock, started the acquisition of everything Pratchett (thanks Colin), Steven Donaldson (stick to the first trilogy), got into Gordon R. Dickson, read the Anne Mcaffrey books until they introduced dolphins (why?), discovered that all the Hitchhiker’s books after the first one really aren’t that good (and that the Dirk Gently books are loads better). There are so many authors! I even found quite a lot of fun in the Games Workshop Black Library, Michael Crichton and even John Grisham.


Where Will We Keep Them?

By the time I went to university the volume of my own books was starting to rival Dad’s collection and had spilled out beyond my room. A Levels had taken it’s toll on my ability to read for fun and “studying” philosophy only gave my desire to read a further kicking. I did read for fun, but not as much. That took a few years to recover.

Earning money and living with my other half who is as avid a bookworm as I, possibly more so, has proven to be our library downfall. We used to do the charity shop run around Beeston every couple of weeks, hoovering up any book that could possibly span our interests, from historical fiction, to crime and detective fiction into interesting fantasy (I cannot stand the by the numbers fantasy of George RR Martin) and sci-fi. That covers a lot of ground, but leaves the Jilly Coopers on the shelves. Then, some bastard opened a huge bookshop in Nottingham where all books were a quid and then we were fucked.

Right now we’ve got a wall of books in the front room. The spare “bedroom” (ho ho) has a chimney breast spanning bookshelf with three waist-high piles of books in front of it, a wardrobe packed solidly six books deep, a stack of boxes of books bubbling up from under half of the desk up the wall (never mind the boxes on top of the other wardrobe. Our real bedroom has invisible powers – all of the space under the bed is stuffed with more boxes of books, as are the drawers and a single bookshelf pretends it’s got the only books in the room. It’s getting quite bad. We even managed to get rid of a few a while ago…

Read. Must. Read

We read quickly at least. I’m still just about managing a couple of books a week, unless one of them is a gargantuan Peter F Hamilton or Steven Erikson paper brick, plus a few comic collections; Marilyn’s doing at least that. I reckon I’ve got sixty books waiting to be read (plus Kindle and Comixology – shush). When will I find time to read them all? Will someone pay me to read them? Please…

I don’t think we can stop. That lovely picture of books is what my other half has acquired in the last fortnight. Curse The Works and their refurbishment sale. Sure, most of them cost much less than a quid each, but the only place they’ll fit is the kitchen table. I’m no better… I buy a couple of books for my Kindle every week and maybe order the odd one from Amazon. If we’re fool enough to go to a real bookshop it gets worse. And I buy comics, though now only (usually) from Comixology to read on my tablet. At least they don’t take up space.

Book cupboard restored
The wardrobe. A year ago…


I should add that books are still very welcome gifts!