Tag Archives: book collecting

Hoarding: The Secret Life Of A Book Addict

8 May

By Elizabeth Shore

In addition to reading romance – lots and lots of romance – I’m also a big fan of the horror genre. Not only Stephen King, whoseBuried in books work I’ve been reading since I was fourteen, but other horror writers as well including Clive Barker, Dan Simmons, and Dean Koontz to name just a few. In recent years I’ve also become a fan of Stephen King’s son, who writes under the name Joe Hill. His work is really good, and I await his new releases with nearly as much gusto as I do his father’s. So when Mr. Hills’ newest book, NOS4A2, came out recently, I dashed to the bookstore the very day it was released in order to scoop it up.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, of course. It’s not like I’m robbing banks. But here’s the thing: my to-be-read pile is at least 75 books long. And I’m not talking electronic books (because that would push the total even higher), but honest-to-goodness printed books. Hardcovers. Softcovers. Bound books, ink on paper, taking up space on my limited bookshelf. To top it off, I  live in a small apartment where space is a premium. Yet what did I do in the face of a space crisis? I went out and bought yet another book. Even more: while I was at the bookstore, I inquired whether or not Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth was out in paperback yet. ‘Cause if it was, I was buying that, too. (thankfully, it’s not until July 2. I’ve got it marked on my calendar). So here I am, friendly readers, baring my soul. My name is Elizabeth Shore, and I’m a book addict.

My book addiction sprouted roots when I was a Tween, probably eleven or twelve. Back then, I used to get as birthday and/or Christmas presents a gift certificate to Waldenbooks. Oh, those were heady days! Having that gift certificate in my hand, walking into the bookstore and seeing all those new, fresh books just sitting there, on the shelves, awaiting my potential acquisition. I could barely contain myself. I was like Imelda Marcos in a Jimmy Choo store!

Books take me away, sweep me into a world of fantasy, romance, adventure, excitement. Naturally I love the stories in the books. What reader doesn’t? It’s the whole point, after all. But I also love the books themselves. I love how they feel when I’m holding them. I love running my palm across the cover of paperbacks and feeling the raised lettering. I admire the antiquated look of ragged edged hardcovers and note how handsome they look sitting atop my shelves. It’s an addiction, I tell you, and one that I’m thinking needs to stop.

Once I’ve read a book, I rarely read it again. There are a few treasures, of course. But for the most part, it’s one and done. I read it, enjoy it, and move on to the next, devouring each and every one of them like a starving cookie monster. I’m beginning to fret about the fact that I have no room for more books, as well as the amount of money I’m spending on them. Really, I need to be directing my hard-earned cash toward more practical things. Like food. I don’t actually need to own a single book. There are libraries, after all. I can read books for free and then return them and never have to worry about squeeeeezing yet another book upon my groaning shelves. But seriously, how boring is that? I don’t actually need nice handbags, either. A sack cloth would do the same trick. But how pale life would be stowing my stuff in a sack, just as it would be having shelves with no books.

Whenever I lament to my husband about being struck with buyer’s remose over buying books, his go-to response is always, “hey, at least you’re not snorting the money up your nose.” Well, no. I’m certainly not doing that. I am, however, supporting writers, and that’s assurance enough for me that if I’m going to have a vice, there are plenty worse ones than buying books. If only I lived in an airplane hangar.

Collecting The Classics

4 Jan

FirstsI’ve been subscribing to the book collecting magazine Firsts for many years. I’m fascinated by the idea of collecting books and all the knowledge that goes into assessing what makes a book valuable, what authors command what prices, how to tell a book’s condition between good (which, in the book collecting world, isn’t actually considered good at all), fine, and very fine. Naturally, once an author has passed away ahis or her books automatically become more valuable, but there are other considerations that go into determining a collectible book. If you happen to come across a fine or very fine first edition of Sense and Sensibility you’re looking at paying upwards of $50,000 for it. But even books much less well known than the esteemed Ms. Austen’s can fetch a pretty penny.

Still, book collecting isn’t necessarily all about the dollar value of the book but rather the emotional value to the collector. I happen to be a huuuuuge Stephen King fan and own almost everything he’s written. Certainly they’re not all first editions and some not even in hardcover. But I love them all and would never want to part with them. In this age of digital books that get downloaded and deleted after they’re read, retaining a book in hand seems that much more valuable in many ways.

So how about romances? Are there old favorites out there that are on your shelves and will forever remain a part of your treasured collection? Or how about some romances that you don’t have but would love to own. Maybe you covet Jude Deveraux’s or Nora Robert’s very first books. Or perhaps Fifty Shades of Grey has made you decide that you want to start an erotic romance collection. Whatever the case, part of the fun of collecting books is the hunt to locate them. I’ve looked casually for a first edition of Stephen King’s Carrie but so far have been unsuccessful. They’re tough to find, probably because they’re pretty darn valuable. I’ve seen first editions priced anywhere from $2,500 all the way up to $7,500, which explains why they’re not just casually lying around in used bookstores.

Tigers EyeI first started reading romances with Johanna Lindsey, I believe it was Gentle Rogue. But the romance that really made me fall in love with romance was Karen Robard’s Tiger’s Eye. The hero is a bad boy from London’s underground and the heroine is high-born lady from an aristocratic family. It’s a book that I can read again and again and one that has a permanent place on  my keeper shelf.

Skye O'MalleyI would also add Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley to my list. This is definitely one of those romance classics from the “golden era” of romance in the 1980’s. Sure, the writing’s been criticized, but I’d argue that this book was a groundbreaker of its time. The heroine captains her own ship, takes a variety of lovers, travels the globe – what more could you want?

Another set of books that retains a place on my shelf is perhaps a little more of an odd choice, but I found it Wideacreintriguing nonetheless and that’s the Wideacre trilogy by Philippa Gregory. Gregory is known for her historical fiction, perhaps best represented by The Other Boleyn Girl, but if you haven’t read the Wideacre Trilogy I’d suggest you check it out. The heroine is strong-willed, almost bordering on crazy in a fascinating kinda way. She’ll do whatever she can to hang on to her ancestral home, Wideacre, including seducing her own brother. Before you shudder in revulsion, give it a try. I was intrigued by the way Ms. Gregory completely made me buy the story. I believed the heroine’s obsession over her home and I believed that she’d do everything she does in order to keep it. Wideacre is followed by The Favored Child, and then Meridon. They’ve all three got a place on my shelf.

I would love to hear what romances are considered collectibles in your world. Hmmm . . . cozying up with Tiger’s Eye suddenly sounds like the perfect weekend plan!

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