Staring at My Bookshelves: The Dilemma of An Obsessive Bibliophile
Jessica and I recently moved.
And in so doing, we unpacked many of our books that had been in storage for the past two years. I know, I'm a monster. I feel pretty terrible about suffocating my darlings like that. But it's really the price to pay when you're a bibliophile.
I'm going to back up for a moment. Back to, let's call it five years ago. I was thirty. Ugh. God damn it.
*Throws chair in response to the invariable demise of our meat sack existence.*
So, I was saying. It was five years ago. Back then I had a different perspective on media consumption as a whole; not just books. It was all of it. I bought DVDs, Blu-Rays, books, comic books. I even bought CDs and the occasional record.
Remember that short scene in The Wedding Singer when doofus mcdudebro, fiance to Drew Barrymore's character, talks about his sweet new CD player? This is him below. I was like him. In a sense. Eager to consume new media, not a douche-nozzle.
In addition to the gargantuan amount of "burned" CDs I had, I bought all the books.
ALL THE BOOKS.
And Jessica was the same. One—well, I—could say that It's the reason we met on Goodreads. Don't believe me? Come over sometime. We totally have our first Goodreads interactions framed. They are both hilarious and unabashedly us. Our passion for books ultimately led to a book-themed wedding, surrounded by people we love, sure. But, books too. All the books. We're book nerds. Bookworms. Bibliophiles. It's who we are, and we love that about each other.
Maybe I am just getting older, and my age is somehow making me think about what really matters, and what's really important, and fuck me if I have to decide between this book and that book and which one am I really, truly going to read and which one am I never going to read, and shouldn't I just give that one to someone who could actually read it, but no I want all the books to myself gimme all the books. . .
all the books
all the books
all the books
Hi, my name is Non, and I have a problem. I want all the books, all the time, forever and ever and ever.
So there's the predicament. Five years ago, no fret. Easy and breezy and not a care in the world. Now, it's different somehow. We've moved, we have finite amounts of space, and we're looking at that one book of famous quotations and asking ourselves, "Do we really need this?"
I need consoling. I need a blanket. I need someone to tell me it's okay.
I feel weird about this. I blame Becky and Norm Leonard for planting that seed, that seed by the name of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or some such bullshit nonsense. I love you, Becky and Norm, but curse you forever for making me feel this way.
And here's where it's at, folks. I am sitting in my kitchen, two bookshelves on either side of me (yes, bookshelves in the kitchen), slashing and burning books in my brain.
Yeah, that can go. I'm not going to read that. The nephews and niece may see this one; best get rid of it so as not to poison their childhoods.
Things have shifted in my brain and I don't know how to deal with it.
There was a time in which full bookshelves brought me peace. Now it seems they bring me anxiety. Shit tons of joy, but also a sliver of anxiety.
Sure, call me hyperbolic, call me overdramatic, call me a snot-nosed, privileged, first-world problem child. I am that; most assuredly. But that doesn't dismiss my anxiety, okay?
How do I explain this better? I feel like you aren't understanding the weight of this.
It's almost like there are two very powerful parts of me fighting back and forth. Like the Montagues and Capulets. One side is my unending adoration for books, which manifests in the unending need for all the books. And one side is full-blown existential crisis inclusive of feelings that we're all going to die, mathematical equations proving that I'll never finish even 50 percent of the books in my library, and that damn hippie part of my upbringing that calls for the beauty of simplicity and rages against the dangers of excess.
Tell me, fellow book lovers. How do I reconcile these combative feelings?
I love reading. I will always love reading.
But I also love having books around me, sharing books I love with people I love. For bibliophiles, there's nothing more magical than experiencing a story, and then sharing that story with others. It's the best. But if I am to give into my existential angst, it means I can't share those joys with you. I would be depriving you of my joys.
The outrage! The pain! The tragedy!
So where does this leave me? Other than, you know, surrounded by books and with a bit of anxiety about the whole thing.
I guess just a bibliophile in the modern age, fighting against the existential man, bumping against the finite space, taking comfort in knowing that there are other bibliophiles out there possibly experiencing the same thing.
One can only hope.
You may be proud of me. We've already started cutting some of the books from our lives. So when that great big California earthquake hits, at least we won't be buried underneath Advance Reader Copies of Mermaidocalypse.
Wish me luck.