I am currently suffering from an escalating problem. On bowing shelves, under the bed, beside the bed, at the foot of the bed, in my wardrobe, under my shoes, above my clothes, beneath my clothes, in my drawers, between my DVDs, my book collection is growing. It has gotten to the point where when I finish a book I chuck it over my shoulder into to cascading pile of my latest reads that lines the back of my bed like an abandoned game of dominos. As a hoarder by nature I live in genuine fear that I am one day going to be one of those old ladies who builds secondary corridors out of old reading material. I will be forced to spend a large portion of my day navigating the expanding maze of epic fantasy just to reach my settee in time to shout at Noel Edmond’s Deal or No Deal (somebody has to).
In my darkest moments, I think of the multiplying collection of cats I’ll have lost amongst the stacks who have given up all hope of rescue and have taken to building their homes out of my collection of ‘90s James Herberts, which they’re slowly but surely teaching themselves to read. It’ll be like The Rats, but with cats. The Cats. I’m going to be found with my arm gnawed off, buried beneath a pile of Robin Hobbs, my only legacy the army of felines that have evolved enough to survive nuclear apocalypse.
The real issue is that I can’t throw books away. It would be like throwing your first child away, just because you’ve had another. It just isn’t done.
My other problem is that I know the solution, and it isn’t one I am particularly happy with. I should convert to digital. Buy an eReader. Get over the printed word.
If I put so much value in the physical copy, if I really class myself as a lover of beautiful covers, clever designs, the tactile reading experience, the smell of a page, then why is my ever-growing collection living rough in its haphazard piles?
I’m either going to have to give up and buy a cat now so I can practice losing it, or suck it up and become a digital convert. It's me or the books.