The book pile next to my bed has gotten out of hand. Even though the books are all the way down on the floor, when I turn my head in that direction, I can see the top of the book mountain over the edge of my mattress. It’s simply too much. Am I ever going to read that six pound biography about Stalin’s Daughter, or Seth Speaks, the beginning of The Seth Material , or Is That a Fish in Your Ear, about the theory of translation or wait, is that Thus Spake Zarathustra? Never going to happen. It’s all just wishful thinking.
The same problem is apparent when I look in the other direction, next to my husband’s side of the bed. He too, clearly has a book hoarding problem; a million books on weight lifting, some Buddhist stuff, poetry, what looks like a great number of short story collections, and a few scattered novels.
No matter how much we read, the mountains keep growing. For every book we finish, we bring in another two, or three, or five. From the bookstore, from the library, from friends who don’t understand that they are feeding an addiction, from family overseas, who feel we need to be less U.S. centered in our literary explorations.
Then I see this article:
“Why You Should Surround Yourself With More Books Than You’ll Ever Have Time to Read,” by Jessica Stillman
And voila, there it is, the justification for all of us book hoarders whose very happiness depends on not enough books, but too many. We all know that books make us smarter and happier and more creative. But here is a case, not for reading them, but for surrounding yourself with more books than you can possibly read. For example, the article mentions that legendary Italian writer Umberto Eco had a private library of more than 30,000 books which kept him “intellectually hungry and perpetually curious.” Yes!!!
Also Stillman, writer of this refreshing article on the positive aspects of book hoarding, points out that an ever growing library of books that we will have no time to read, gives us intellectual humility with its constant reminders of all the things we don’t know. Stillman ends the article with the humbling words: “All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people.”
Be that as it may, in the end, I am just really, really happy to have any kind of justification for surrounding myself with books.