Confessions of a recovering Book Hoarder

Hello, my name is Natalie, and I’m a recovering book hoarder.

I love to surround myself with books and have them piled and shelved all over my house.  Since childhood, I’ve hoarded books and even filched copies of some of my favorite novels from high school English classes–The Collector by John Fowles comes readily to mind.

I have college text books and novels that haven’t seen the light of day since the early to mid-90s, but I hold on to them on the off chance that someday I’ll need to reference one of the esoteric books.  If you need an interpretation of Stevie Smith’s Novel on Yellow Paper, I can lend you my annotated copy!

My personal library has been pretty sizable since forever (some of my birthday and Christmas money was always spent on books), but after starting Book, Line, and Sinker in March 2009, things started to get crazy.  I started buying, borrowing, and receiving more books than ever.  My house runneth over with books.

Recently, I took the situation in hand, going through my bookcases and removing anything that wasn’t a perennial favorite.  In one weekend, I filled an entire suitcase and tote bag with books to share.

I packed up several novels and sent them to various friends and relatives across the country but took the lion’s share to a hospital I’ve been frequenting almost daily for the last month.

The Isolation Unit of the hospital (the floor my family member is restricted to) had a tiny and depressing collection of dated paperbacks on the mostly-bare shelves.  I remedied that situation by wheeling my giant book-filled Samsonite.  I filled all of the shelves and left scores of magazines on the coffee and end tables.

When I stopped by the reading nook just yesterday, I was delighted to see that many of the books I brought had been borrowed.  I can think of no better way to share books than with patients (or their family members) who need an escape from their current situation.  I’m happy to be a recovering  book hoarder!

Do you hoard your books or do you spread the literary love?  If you share, who reaps your bounty?


  • At 2010.07.22 00:04, Lex said:

    That is very nice Natalie! I really liked how you shared your books. It’s like the perfect idea. I can also imagine the perfect sensation when you saw most of your books borrowed already!
    .-= Lex´s last blog ..Holly =-.

    • At 2010.07.22 00:52, Jess (The Cozy Reader) said:

      I share my books with family and friends usually.

      Just today I took 10 books to work with me and put a big “TAKE ONE or two” sign with them. 🙂

      I love your idea. 🙂 I’m just happy that I have a workplace to share mine with right now. 🙂
      .-= Jess (The Cozy Reader)´s last blog ..Winner- Other by Karen Kincy =-.

      • At 2010.07.22 05:55, vivienne said:

        I am a hoarder, but I do share with family and friend too.They see me as their personal librarian!
        .-= vivienne´s last blog ..The Haunting of Nathaniel Wolfe by Brian Keaney =-.

        • At 2010.07.22 08:39, A Southern Cousin said:

          What a wonderful, thoughtful gesture — I am sure the patients are most grateful. . .

          We have a ‘book share’ at work, where the teachers bring in their books that they are willing to share and shelve them in a special area of the workroom. We have a great mini library now, and anyone can borrow or share as they please. It is on the honor system and it works out great!

          • At 2010.07.22 09:16, nat @book, line, and sinker said:

            we had a book share when i worked at waterford. it got so big that HR purchased a bunch of shelves for one of the cafeterias. it was a great way to share books.

            • At 2010.07.23 13:02, Darla LaRoche said:

              We have a bookshelf in our Teachers’ Room where we bring books to share. At the end of the school year we send out an email announcing that books left in the bookshelf will be donated to the town fair for their book sale in Aug. If you want to keep your book, you take it from the shelf, the rest are donated. At the beginning of the school year it starts to fill up again. This way we can keep a smaller shelf and books don’t “languish” there unread.

            • At 2010.07.22 09:03, Serena said:

              I’ve been very good about sharing books lately, but I still have to go through that backlog of books I haven’t looked at in years… I tend to give mine away to friends or relatives. I love that you shared your treasures with the hospital…what a great idea.

              We have a communal shelf at work where people drop off books for others to read.
              .-= Serena´s last blog ..eBooks Mess With Poetic Intent =-.

              • At 2010.07.22 09:14, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

                I haven’t gotten over my addiction yet, but I love your idea! I hope your family member is on the road to recovery.

                • At 2010.07.22 09:45, Amy said:

                  I used to be a big hoarder, but even in the worst (best?) hoarding days I still lend my books all over. In fact, on one of my work trips I ended up lending books to a prisoner in Georgia… but that is a whole other story! lol. Anyway, I am now much better at shipping books off – especially to other bloggers. I love knowing that the books will get more reviews and are going to people who will love them.
                  .-= Amy´s last blog ..Three Short Non-Fiction Reviews =-.

                  • At 2010.07.22 09:45, Amy said:

                    …But I still have a bit of a hoarding problem too 😀
                    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Three Short Non-Fiction Reviews =-.

                    • At 2010.07.22 09:49, Steph said:

                      Nat, I think you did the best possible thing with your surfeit of books! I mean, is there anything better than spreading the joy of reading?

                      I used to hoard books, but now I’m pretty ruthless with my shelves. If a book isn’t one that I love and will want to re-read, it gets booted. I just don’t have the room, otherwise!
                      .-= Steph´s last blog ..“Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell =-.

                      • At 2010.07.22 10:01, dw said:

                        i’m a book hoarder too and i thought i was the only one keep copies of books from english class. i have books that are stamped with our school on it and books with my english teacher’s name on it. opps.

                        i usually give my books to friends and family although most of them don’t want it. the other day i discover one of those ‘leave one, take one’ bookshelves and brought some of the books that i didn’t want anymore to put on it.

                        • At 2010.07.22 11:30, Dave Cullen said:

                          I have hoarded about 400, even while lending them out liberally. I had to give half away when I moved to NYC last week, though. That was sad.

                          Let me know if you come around to reading my book, (Columbine). Maybe try the book trailer first, or the first chapter (which is only 3 pages). You can read it at


                          • At 2010.07.22 12:23, stephanie said:

                            that was awesome that you brought books up to the hospital! I’m sure it was quite grim prior to your generous donation…. anything’s better than Better Homes and Gardens from 1985.

                            • At 2010.07.22 13:55, LJ said:

                              That is such a lovely thing to do!! I was recently in respite care for 2 months (due to a car accident) and the book selection there was awful! I had friends and family bring me things, but not everyone has that support.

                              That being said…I am a TOTAL HOARDER!!! I mentioned to my partner that I wanted to go shopping for a bigger bookshelf and his response was Why not get rid of some books? Yeah, right. Some of these books have been with me longer than he has so if anyone is staying, it is the books 😉

                              • At 2010.07.22 19:11, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

                                Obviously, by my blog name, I am a hoarder. I do lend my books out but it is selectively (I’m working at being better about this). I know I need to take a serious look at the books I own and let go of some (maybe 5, or 10 if I’m really feeling crazy) but I just don’t know if I will be able to bring myself to do it. You have inspired me to try.

                                • At 2010.07.22 19:57, Alyce said:

                                  That is so cool! I hadn’t thought about asking the hospital if they needed donations – I will keep that in mind. Up until I started blogging I was the same kind of hoarder – with books from childhood and college. In the past couple of years I have given a lot of books to the library, sold some to the used book store, traded some via paperbackswap and given some away on my site. I just don’t have enough room in my house, so I thank you for the suggestion of another way to put the books to good use.
                                  .-= Alyce´s last blog ..My Favorite Reads – July 22 =-.

                                  • At 2010.07.22 21:35, Dishy said:

                                    What a lovely thing to do, Nat! I hope your family member is feeling much, much better soon. I have no doubt you brought a ray of sunshine to the isolation ward. Way to go! My mom (a nursing executive) used to bring all of our magazines to the hospital once we’d looked through them. It’s always nice to have something new to read, whether it’s as a patient or as a visitor. xo
                                    .-= Dishy´s last blog ..Stonyfield Cafe =-.

                                    • At 2010.07.22 22:23, Beth F said:

                                      Im still addicted but I like to donate to the AAUW, who hold a huge book sale every spring and use the money for college scholarships for young women.
                                      .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Review- Major Pettigrews Last Stand by Helen Simonson =-.

                                      • At 2010.07.23 00:21, avisannschild said:

                                        I’m definitely a hoarder (I own something like 1500 books at the moment), although I do share books with my local book blogging friends. Unfortunately, I tend to come home with more books than I give away…
                                        .-= avisannschild´s last blog ..Library Loot July 22 =-.

                                        • At 2010.07.23 00:39, Carina said:

                                          I am a horrible, horrible hoarder. My boyfriend actually bought me a Kobo for my birthday, so that I would buy less physical books that would take up more space in my apartment. *blush*

                                          • At 2010.07.23 13:09, Andi said:

                                            I definitely posess those book-hoarding tendencies, but I’ve been fighting them for a while now. I keep only what I’ll re-read or teach, and the rest are given away, take to the used bookstore, or otherwise dispersed. And I buy e-books now. Woohoo!
                                            .-= Andi´s last blog ..Outspoken Interview- Lucy Knisley- author of French Milk =-.

                                            • At 2010.07.24 21:58, Jenners said:

                                              What a wonderful way to share your books!!! I tend to swap them via Paperback Swap, send to family members or give them away on my blog. I’m not allowed to keep a lot of books in the house per Mr. Jenners. Boo, Mr. Jenners!
                                              .-= Jenners´s last blog ..July Giveaway =-.

                                              • At 2010.07.25 20:47, Kathleen said:

                                                It is much easier to give up books that we love when they go to people who need them more than we do. What a lovely gesture you made to give them to the hospital. They will give family members who are sitting around and waiting such pleasure and respite. I am also a book hoarder (recovering). I had over 4000 books in my home library and sold some on Amazon Marketplace but donated the bulk of them to my local library’s used bookstore. It is a great feeling to know that my books are not only being read and enjoyed by others but that the money went to buy even more books for the local library. I now only have a few hundred books and feel just fine with that.

                                                • At 2010.07.27 13:54, sammy25 said:

                                                  I both share and hoard….I hoard my favs (only lending them out on the stictist of circumstances) and then I share my cheapy paperbacks with everyone!

                                                  P.S. I will have your book back to you at the beginning of August 🙂

                                                  • At 2010.07.27 21:21, Natalie said:

                                                    That book is for you to keep or pass along!! I’m not hoarding anymore! Enjoy. Xoxo

                                                    • At 2010.07.27 17:32, Jennifer said:

                                                      This topic or at least different versions of it seems to be coming up a lot lately on various blogs including my own. I know that I’m a book hoarder and blogging about books hasn’t really helped too much with my problem. But I love what you did with your books. And hopefully one day, I’ll get around to cleaning up my shelves a bit and doing something equally wonderful.

                                                      • At 2010.08.01 02:00, Lisa said:

                                                        I’m pretty good about passing books along as much as possible but there are some that just are things I know that no one I know will read and then I never know what to do with them, especially ARCs. What a great idea! There’s a hospital nearby and I will have to contact them tomorrow to see if they would let me bring books over. I’ll bet knowing your books were going to such good use made it much easier to part with them.
                                                        .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Thrity Thursdays or The Space Between Us Readalong =-.

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