I Like Collecting Books and I Cannot Lie, You Other Brothers Can’t Deny

Posted: July 10, 2013 by generationgbooks in Books

I realize I’ve slandered the epic Sir-Mix-A-Lot anthem. I am sure Mr. Mix-a-Lot (I mean, really, what the hell would you call him?) wouldn’t mind, as it’s in the way of creation of a blog about collecting. I collect many things, so there will be other blogs, but the main one, at least consistently, has been books.

When and how did this start? Not sure, to be perfectly honest. I grew up in a household where reading took a back seat to bad horror films, bad disco music, and bad television shows of the 70’s. My mother’s primary source of reading material was tabloids. I blame her for my continuing fascination with the printed scandal sheets. My father’s primary sources were sales papers (buying a Sunday Sun-Times only for the sales papers, I was the fool reading everything between those papers), old car manuals, old Army manuals, and history books on WWI and WWII. I guess with those lines set early on, it’s no surprise the three of us were avid readers. The point is, it starts somewhere. The love of reading started the obsession with books. The obsession with books means despite the fact that I know better and have even less space, I continue to amass frightening amounts of literature, from multiple sources. The minute you find yourself anchoring a little old WordPress book blog, you find yourself inundated with MORE books. That’s a warning, friends. A warning I happily continue to ignore, for the record.

There was always an indication the books were going to get me into trouble. First there was the war with Joe D in grade school. He was reading the Hardy Boys, I was reading Nancy Drew. There was some spirited discussion of who could finish their series faster. I don’t remember who won, or if we totally stopped, but I did finish all the ND. Joe did finish all the HB, I just don’t recall what the spoils of that hard-wrought battle were(or likely, weren’t). I remember telling my mom and all she could say was “With all your homework, that’s what you’re worried about? Put that down and let’s watch Welcome Back, Kotter.”(sad AND true). No one thought of pointing out that she was telling me to quit reading those Nancy Drew books and watch my beloved Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, while I should have been doing said homework. Oh well, the late 70’s and early 80’s were quite a time of freestyle parenting; this would have been a good example.

Monetarily? The first sign of trouble was shortly after that, when there was a library sale. I don’t remember if it was at WSS or if it was at my cousin’s school in Hickory Hills, but I went and my entire allowance was gone. I had a motherload of books. I was excited. I stacked them all up in my bedroom, on the side that my nihilistic brother didn’t have taken up with those GI Joe dolls. The same weekend found me going to garage sales with Darlene, my mom’s best friend. More books. The pile grew higher. I would plow through those suckers, but it’s a battle that cannot be won. No matter how many I could read, there was always that hirsute bitch, Miss Responsibility, sitting outside to ruin my book party. I was never going to NOT have a collection of books. Nor would my desire to have mountains of books about, ever truly cease.

The psychology involved here is that no matter how much i enjoy reading, how fast I can read and blog about these books, and how often I tell myself to not buy books, I just cannot part with them. I continue to collect them, win them, borrow them, buy them cheaply at HPB, have them sent to me by publishers and colleagues. They aren’t going anywhere. For every box that gets donated (3 boxes today alone), I’m already figuring out which books I can afford to buy this week from my job (I’m a manager at an independent bookstore). By the way, choosing to have a career that is even in the remotest of ways connected to your passion, will not quench your thirst to further add to that collection. In fact, it will no doubt feed the fires, even more so.

For anyone to pour their heart, soul, wallet, creativity, and time into something that is a leisurely pursuit, and to do it for many years, in many different economic times, amid tumult of professional, personal, and mental types, and still not lose that desire, it means that this is an edifying passion that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I used to scoff at people who would go to craft shows religiously, and sell goose clothes. Who the fuck has a goose on their lawn, and why would they outfit an inanimate object? Well, guess what? It’s their passion, I have no fucking right to sit here and judge and snicker, because I collect books, they are my passion. I have no right to ridicule others, when I am in a different class of the same school of thought. Ridiculous amounts of them, many different subject matters, and many different editions. I have found books that I had hardcover and paperback editions of, but I can’t bear to throw out the hardcover, although I also have the paperback. If I go to a thrift store, where do I end up? Books. Do I end up buying them, even if it’s a Jackie Collins yellowed dog eared copy that I probably won’t read until I’m 68? Sadly enough, yes.

Overall, there isn’t much to add to this, except a bit of advice. When you go to move from one residence to the next, that is really when you realize just how much of a collector you are. Meaning- you now have to make sure your items of worship are lovingly preserved so they don’t expire or disappear in the move. It also means that you have to find room for all those items. This, in itself, should be a blog posting. My act of having to move two years ago, with my 3,660 books, was an ugly thing. I have more books than clothes. I have more books than records. I have more books than scruples. Would I have it any other way? Hell to the no.

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