If there’s one thing I suspect that all bookworms have experienced, it’s the shocked expressions of the uninitiated when they see our bookshelves. Then the question, ‘Why?’ is asked, in one form or another.
It was many years before I understood that most of the people who asked were not going to be convinced by any answer I could give. Sometimes, when I knew someone well, I’d turn the question round, and say, ‘Why don’t you?’ Just to share that sense of defeat.
The word hoarding has drifted back into focus in the UK this week. I’ve never thought of myself in that way, but I was brought up in a household where the well stocked pantries and larders of my parents and grandparents were considered, stores.
Often these were constructed seasonally. It began with things gathered from the garden and the hedgerows, and was supplemented with bought tinned and dried goods. Such activities were traditions, based on anecdotes, or experiences of: rationing, heavy weather, economic uncertainties… times when shopping would not be an option.
I’m reminded of that this week, as friends who are venturing into supermarkets report that shelves are once more being cleared of some stock. Need I mention toilet rolls?
I’m curious about the quantity of goods that count as a hoard. Perhaps there’s a specific number of tins or bottles beyond which we should not go. I can see how the extremes fit this, those pictures of bunkers with industrial shelving, for instance. But for the rest of us, how do we know whether our shelves are sensibly, rather than excessively stocked?
When it comes to books, I can hold my hand up and say I’m a story-hoarder, banking up food-for-the-mind for the future. There’s only one room in this house without bookshelves.
And then there’s my shed. I mean office, of course, and whoever heard of having an office that wasn’t designed around the tools for one’s trade?
Maybe, when we are again able to invite people in, and someone’s eyes widen as they look at my walls of books, they’ll understand them in the light of these times.
Meanwhile, my blogging friend Ann Burnett has drawn my attention to an interesting new way to buy books and donate money to a good cause, an on-line ‘auction of signed books and items donated by celebrated Authors and Illustrators from around the world‘ called ‘Children in Read‘. Proceeds go to the BBC charity, Children in Need. There are, as of Sunday morning 573 interesting lots to chose from, divided into 25 categories.
My book buying, over the last six months, has been based on tracking down specific titles, and my random reading from my TBRs has made a little space. So, it was good to browse a virtual bookshelf, and put on a bid or two. I got that lovely feeling that comes from mitigating having indulged myself by supporting a charity.
‘Am I a hoarder?’
Let me quote Miss Piggy, ‘Who, moi?’