Too Many Books?

Over the weekend I visited my daughter’s place and she happily showed me the improvements she’d made to what she calls her “book room.” It’s not a library; she holds a Masters in Library Science and hasn’t found the time to organize all of her 4,000 books in a way that honors such a degree. 🙂 So a book room it is. She has six very tall and wide shelves, every shelf filled and on top as well, so books literally reach the ceiling. The room offers the not-unpleasant feeling that you’re being swallowed by four walls of books as you enter.

Her husband has been hoping she would get rid of a number of her books, and I suspect that sentiment will only increase once they make serious plans to move. Having carried a number of book boxes myself, I can attest to how heavy they are. He even had a brief season of hope when the Kindle released and she started purchasing some of her books digitally.

Some of her books. You see, my daughter is an avid book lover. Book lover. As in books with spines, with the smell of pages new or old (well, minus mold that is, or perfume if you check back to Camy’s post last week). She likes to hold a book in her hand, and her Kindle doesn’t offer the exact same experience (though she does love it).

Personally, I tend to agree that 4,000 books is a bit over the top – especially since she’s been known to read a book more than once. But she does donate, give away or sell books on Book Swap or at used bookstores on occasion. The problem is she loves too many books, so much that she won’t be parted from them.

So I was wondering how many is too many when it comes to books? Personally, I define that number by how many books I can reasonably store. I have books in three places: a book closet in the basement, the study where I work, and a shelf in my bedroom. Splitting the locations in three doesn’t overwhelm anyone – either me or my family. I may have a thousand books, but certainly not 4,000!

How about you? How do you define too many books?

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About Maureen Lang

Author of a dozen novels, Maureen Lang has won the Selah Award, a Holt Medallion, FHL's Reader's Choice Award, and been a finalist in such contests as the Christy, the Rita, the Carol, Book Buyer's Best, and others. Before publication she was the recipient of a Golden Heart and a Genesis (then called the Noble Theme). She resides with her husband and kids in the Chicago area. Titles by Maureen Lang All In Good Time Bees In The Butterfly Garden Springtime Of The Spirit Whisper On The Wind Look To The East My Sister Dilly On Sparrow Hill The Oak Leaves Remember Me Pieces Of Silver
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13 Responses to Too Many Books?

  1. C. C. Gevry says:

    I don’t believe you can have too many books, but I’ve also learned that there are some books I swear I will read again, but never have. Once a year, I make a point to clear out any of those I can bear to part with. The church is glad to have them for their annual tag sale. Part of why I love my Kindle Fire so much, though, is because I can have so many books without feeling like I am cluttering my house.

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    • Maureen Lang says:

      I’m sure you and my daughter represent a healthy percentage of book lovers out there, and the main reason real, non-digital books will always be available. Yippee!

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  2. Vicki Hinze says:

    Well, I confess. I was a book hoarder. When I had all the eye surgeries and started having to read electronically, I felt guilty at keeping them all when others could be enjoying them. So Hubby and I loaded them up and took them to our local library. It two two trips in a pickup truck to deliver them all.

    Our local librarian was terrific. I told her to keep what she wanted and share the rest with other libraries. I have no idea exactly how many books there were, but it was a lot. I still have many that I just can’t make myself give up. Many I made notes in the margins or things like that–unsuitable for sharing, I’d say.

    It was a good feeling knowing they were going to good homes and wouldn’t be resigned to dust-gatherers. Hate to admit it, but I needed the consolation. 🙂

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    • Maureen Lang says:

      Wow, what a wonderful gift! I’ll bet the librarian still talks about that! Thanks for sharing, Vicki – and praise God for e-readers for making it possible for you to continue to enjoy reading.

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  3. Rachel Sides says:

    I’m making the move from paper to digital. I’m keeping about 100 books which are mostly autographed and have a grow digital collection, over 4000 books on 3 ereaders.

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    • Maureen Lang says:

      I have a shelf reserved for signed books, too! My digital collection is steadily growing as well – it’s so tempting to buy that book so instantaneously… not only without waiting, but not having to worry about making room for it anywhere.

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  4. Susan Fryman says:

    An interesting question. I tend to say you can never have enough books. I get a little panicked if I don’t have a large to read stack. To save space I do try to borrow from the library. Like your daughter, some books I pass on and it’s difficult. I just give myself a stern talking to and say it’s not nice to not share. LOL. I like your concept of having enough to fill the spaces you can dedicate to books. We’re planning on moving and so I’ve sifted through my books and given away to the library or friends what I could bear to part with. What remains is my to read stash and my Bible study books. I’d sort of made a pledge to not buy anymore books, but may have to break that since the move has stalled due to health reasons. I’m like your daughter in that I love the feel and smell of a book in my hands. Still considering an e-reader, perhaps if I win one sometime. Not quite sure I can make that leap though. Thank you for posting, I really enjoyed it. Blessings, Susan Fryman

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    • Maureen Lang says:

      Oh, Susan, I hope you DO win an e-reader some day, because they’re so fun to have. It’s true that I love the feel of a “real” book, but e-readers are so convenient (especially for traveling) and they have their own unique promise – so many different titles, many of them priced so reasonably or even free, so it’s easy to try out new authors. If you get the chance, I’m sure you’ll like having an e-reader.

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      • Susan Fryman says:

        Thanks Maureen. Really enjoying the responses to your blog today. Such an interesting topic. I guess to a degree I have stashes of the things besides people I’m really passionate about such as quilting material and yarns. Thankfully my husband hasn’t said anything about having an intervention.

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      • Maureen Lang says:

        I’m laughing at the intervention idea, Susan! My husband hates to toss out old electronics – he has an engineer’s curiosity and tinkering ability, so I guess if we have to store old cameras, computers and electronic games in our storage room, I can hoard a few books – at least until such things get in the way. Sometime’s life is just a balancing act …

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  5. I think I’m a book hoarder. Doesn’t matter in what form. I have about 10 floor to ceiling bookshelves. RIght now they are pretty much culled so that the books stand in them as they are meant to. But soon they will have books stacked two deep until I can bear to part with some of them again. And my kindle? Oh, my! I think at last check I had over 500 books–and no storage issues! Oh, the joys!

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    • Susan Fryman says:

      I was wondering how many books could be stored on a kindle.

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      • Maureen Lang says:

        I read somewhere that the storage capacity depends on which model you have (cheaper models store less – maybe 500? – but I’ve heard the newer models hold something like 3,500). It also depends on which format the books are in – some formats evidently take up more space than others. I find all of this a bit confusing since I’m so technologically challenged. I do know I have an Amazon “cloud” – so I can store items there and read them on various devices. I have the original Kindle as well as a Kindle Fire, and because of that cloud I can read things on either Kindle or my computer screen or iPhone. I’m not sure if that cloud ever gets “filled” or just keeps getting bigger! Technology’s come a long way, baby! Not sure where it’ll ever take us…

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