When my wife and I bought our house, one of the big attractions were built-in bookshelves in the living room. The shelves cover two-thirds of the far wall, with the rest taken up by a mantle and gas fireplace. It’s quite beautiful and pretty much sold the house.
It didn’t take long for us to nearly fill the shelves with a variety of books: a few Stephen King novels, most of the works of Chuck Klosterman, all of Hunter S. Thompson, my Poe collection, the wife’s Douglas Adams. It was a fairly neat little collection — emphasis on little.
My name is T.J. and I am a book hoarder.
The meat has been in a storage unit in the middle of the Nevada desert until last week, when my little brother hauled up a pickup bed full of boxes, 95 percent of which were books. It was like a weird kind of Christmas for me. It was all stuff I already owned, but I had to open each box and take out what I wanted. It was dirty, sweaty, cold work. And so worth it.
I spent three days separating things into categories: in, out and deal-with-later. Those marked IN will eventually find their way into the house. The OUT category is mostly comprised of duplicates acquired during different periods of my life. (“How did I end up with two trade paperback copies of Anne Rice’s “The Witching Hour,” I asked myself. The answer is that I don’t know. What I do know it that they both went into OUT boxes along with most of the rest of the Anne Rice books. I’m keeping “Interview with the Vampire” and a couple others, but for the most part, I’m over her.) They will likely go to Goodwill (or if you know of another charitable organization that needs books for people to read, let me know).
Now, with only a few exceptions, I have the entire Stephen King library in my house and it only took up two shelves — allbeit, big shelves. I already had all of my Thompson books, but I now also have my Chuck Palahniuk books and the nearly complete works of Jack Kerouac. This actually saved me about $50 in new purchases. I’m taking a course on the Beat Generation next quarter and I already owned three of the four required books.
There have been a number of pleasant oddities in the boxes, too — “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind, “The Rings of Saturn” by W.G. Sebald and “Thunderball” by Ian Fleming.
I also own enough English literature textbooks to start a teaching career on the right foot. I guess I should finish my bachelor’s degree and get working on the Master’s of Fine Arts I would need in order to properly mold the young minds out there.
I can hear the voice of my wife right now. “Why do you need those? Why didn’t you sell them back when you were done with them?”
Because my name is T.J., and I am a book hoarder.
The scary part is that there are still boxes and boxes of movies out there in the desert, waiting for the next time my brother visits me or I manage to make the trip down there.
To paraphrase Sheriff Brody, I think we’re going to need a bigger shelf.