Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Countdown of a bibliomaniac: TBR

Bibliomania is a lifelong, crippling, bank-emptying disease. Symptoms include paroxysms of excitement on entering a bookstore, choice of handbag according to book crammability, and piles of books encroaching on the limited surface area in your abode. Piles like forts, comforted by their permanence in the booklover’s heart. Jumbled insights into bibliophilic madness. Unhealthy side-effects include book binges and dust. Lots of dust.

The uninitiated, on entering a bibliophile’s house will often inquire, “Have you read them all?” Impossible, since the rate of acquisition often exceeds the consumption of the bookworm. I discovered this gem in V.S Naipaul’s The Mystic Masseur, in which books are ostentatious, their mere presence revered as purveyors of intellectual fortitude:

Beharry nibbled. ‘I was just showing the pundit the books I does read.’
‘Read!’ Her tired face quickened with scorn. ‘Read! You want to know what he does read?’
Ganesh didn’t know where to look.
‘He does close up the shop if I don’t keep a eye on him and he does jump into bed with the books. I ain’t know him read one book to the end yet, and he ain’t happy unless he reading four give book at the same time. It have some people it dangerous learning them how to read.’ 70.

On my fiction shelves, I have 232 fiction TBR. Not formidable enough to discourage more book buying. Why? Some books on my shelves are non-identities. They’ve lost all appeal to me. I don’t know what possessed me to accumulate seven Atwood titles because desire to read her has dissipated. Whilst doing the count I did discover some neglected reads such as Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled and Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven, which have been surpassed by neoteric purchases. So, how is everyone else going with their TBR collection? Any interesting must reads that you have come across?


Bybee said...

232! OK, I feel less like a bibliomaniac now. I'm just a pretender, a wannabe. You rock!!!

fei said...

I think, we bought those we-might-never-want-to-read-book, bacause we 'heard' that they are great. like Atwood, how can you resist to buy her book when so many of the bibliomaniac told you she wrote great books?

I think it's the fear of miss out something great in your reading that makes us keep buying and buying.

I always tell myself, the important thing is, when I feel like reading them, the books will be there, do I sound like I am trying to rationalize my book buying?

Brad said...

I justify my TBR pile as "planning for retirement reading," when the income drops off and the available free time increases. :) This year I planned to read 3 books that I own for every 1 that I purchase. After 19 days, I'm about even and have some catch up to do. Unless the purchases stop or my reading accelerates exponentially over the next couple of months, I will have failed this year's plan.

Melanie said...

We have about 15 bookshelves at our place filled with some books we've read and most tbr. I too get the non-reader's question "Have you read them all?" Well, no, or why would I still have them all? I think the urge to buy/collect is in order to maintain the potential to read them at any time. It's not the reading that is foremost, it is the possibility of reading. Can't live without that feeling!

acquisitionist said...

bybee, no way are you less of a bibliomaniac. I just happen to frequent our annual mega book sale nearly every day it's on.

Brad, I like the ratio idea. In fact, I should try it myself.

fei, what you say hits the mark. I brought most of my Atwood books when I first starting expanding my reading collection. Your rationalization works for me ;)

Melanie, you must have a mini library going.

Kay said...

You described me perfectly! LOL. I picked up most of my TBR mountain when we lived in small town USA with a crappy library. I was so afraid I may be caught with nothing to read. Now we are back in the big city and they are so patiently waiting to be read! I tell my husband to back off, they don't go bad!

Happy C&C Monday...great blog.


Sara said...

I try not to accumulate too many books because when I still remember the pain of the last time I moved... books are heavy, and they are hard to sell if you need to get rid of some! I do have several that I haven't read and don't really want to, like your Atwoods. Even though I don't feel like I'll ever want to touch them again, I can't bear to get rid of them without reading them!

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

Gulp...I think I may have this disease!! hehe


acquisitionist said...

sara, you have a good point there. It is especially pertinent as I live in a sharehouse and can envisage moving a few times while at uni. Eeek!

orangeblossom, you're obviously diseased (in a good way!).

Bookfool said...

Okay, I confess. I have thousands of books. The number of books I keep seems to be directly proportional to the number of years spent in the same abode - we've been in this house for over 15 years. No moving? No back pain! No complaints from friends who claim they will never, ever, ever help you move again because your boxes are too heavy!

Yep, it's an illness, all right. :)