You Know You Have Too Many Books When…

We stopped by our favorite used book store the other night. Only bought one book–a biography of Henry Stimson from the History Book Club’s Parkman Prize series. It cost me only $2. Was feeling pretty good about that until I had this niggling feeling that I already owned a copy of this book, yet unread. Turned out, I even knew exactly where to find it. I think I may have too many books!

What are some other signs that you have too many books? Here are a few I can think of–although for my own sense of self-respect, I won’t say how many are true for me!

You have too many books when…

1. You will not be able to read all the books you have in what life remains you–even by generous measures.

2. You’ve run out of shelf space for your books.

3. Book piles are sprouting up on the flat surfaces in your house.

4. You can’t find a book you know you own.

5. You have boxes of books squirreled away in secret places.

6. You’ve considered adding onto your house to make room for your books.

7. Alternatively, you’ve considered asking someone in your house to move out to make room for your books! (I will say I’m not guilty of this one!)

8. Children visiting your home ask if this is a library.

9. You have  more books than the local library!

10. Your Nook or Kindle overfloweth!

The funny thing is, even then, we remain suckers for “that book I’ve always wanted to read”, particularly if we find it for a bargain. And our unread books never trouble us too much. After all there is the reputed counsel of Winston Churchill who encouraged friends not to trouble themselves over unread books but just to “fondle them”.

Can you add to my signs of having too many books? If you are a bibliophile and not in denial (or the spouse of a bibliophile!), you probably can.









6 thoughts on “You Know You Have Too Many Books When…

  1. Ha. There’s no such thing as too many books. Just under-utilized ones.

    Every year or three, my wife and I do look at our bookshelves and winnow out books we either 1) don’t like, 2) haven’t read and have no intention of reading, or 3) have no idea where they came from (a non-null category, unfortunately).

    • Mike, I like that one. Actually, I was in a conversation about winnowing this past weekend with a pastor near the end of his career and what he is deciding is what he wants to keep, which are the works he comes back to again and again, and getting rid of the rest. I’m thinking of doing a future post on how to decide what to keep and get rid of. I like your criteria!

  2. After posting this, someone else posted the fuller context of my briefer Churchill quote, which runs as follows:

    “If you cannot read all your books…fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances. ” — Winston Churchill

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