My name is Anne, and I’m a bookaholic.
It started with The Little Engine that Could and The Story of Ferdinand, books I insisted on sleeping with. Birthdays, Christmas: Books were what I wanted. Through my grade school days of horse obsession (everything by Marguerite Henry) to my junior high days of boy obsession (everything by Paul Zindel) and into my more adult days of literary obsession (everything), I have always been a bookaholic.
Life intruded somewhat as I grew up and became mobile; I couldn’t take it all with me, so I discovered used bookstores and swapped when I could. I curtailed my collection obsession significantly in the three years I owned Packrat Annie’s; I had to eat, after all, so I couldn’t be taking all the books home.
When I worked for Oliver’s books (the precursor to Otter), again I managed to leave most of the books on the shelf. Working concurrently at the library helped: I could feed my reading habit and keep my literary packrat habit at bay. For a while, it seemed my little problem was under control.
It wasn’t until I started touring as a writer that I again dipped my toe in the seductive waters of book collection. I had kept my problem at bay for years; now, the downward slope was slippery indeed. I was meeting all these fabulous authors; I had to have their books! And so I bought a bookshelf. And filled it. And bought another.
Ever the recycler, when not supporting authors and bookstores, I’m happy to buy used books as well, and we have two excellent stores here in Nelson. My favourite opportunity for used books happens twice a year — favourite, because I get to buy books and support the library. It’s the Friends of the Library semi-annual book sale, coming up this Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Most of the books, DVDs, and audiobooks in the sale are donated by people like me: book collectors who have decided to — needed to — downsize. The books may be in new or gently used condition (I’ve been known to buy Christmas presents at the book sale; don’t tell anyone), or they can be rare finds.
I admit, I’m a sucker for a well-used cookbook, because you know it’s going to be good. There’s something, too, about a beautiful old book given to Tommy on his birthday in 1963 by Grandma. For me, older is better; I can feel the stories of the readers amongst the pages, too.
The Friends of the Library are friends indeed: They’ve gone through boxes and boxes of books, weeded out the sketchy ones (see our “free” bin in the lobby), and sorted them by subject to make browsing easy. It’s a lot of work. This year, the new location in the Old Church Hall at 602 Kootenay Street makes for easier browsing, too. If you really have a bookshelf to fill, at 2 p.m. on Saturday you can fill a bag-o-books for three bucks, too.
The Friends Book Sale may be a dangerous thing, and you should be warned. There’s no question that it’s habit-forming, and may result in a reading obsession leading to undone housework and sagging bookshelves. But as addictions go, there are worse ones to have than this.
Anyone know where to find some bricks and boards?
Anne DeGrace’s library column is featured in the Nelson Star every second Friday