Reading for a good cause.

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.

Photo by Nightingale Art House on

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?’

50 thoughts on “Reading for a good cause.

  1. Cath, fear not ~ as long as there is one room in your house with no books (it may be the smallest room – but even so….) you cannot be called a hoarder. So rest easy and enjoy the words ๐Ÿ˜‰.
    {“Children in Read” what a great excuse ~ as if one were needed.}

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Mike, it’s always good to have reassurance on matters like these. I’ve been working on the assumption that so long as I haven’t started building stacks on the floor…
      I know, Children in Read is such a lovely pun.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an exciting topic! I love books and have many a heaving shelf in many rooms of my house. Both โ€œabove and belowโ€ if viewed through a Jungian lens! And even wrote a dream inspired poem all about them once.

    Somewhere around fifty though, perhaps at forty too, I undertook a huge cull for the charity shops and so let many go to new homes โ€ฆ never in the bin I hasten to add! I had outgrown them and needed space for newbies.

    Which leads me to the question โ€œhow and why do we outgrow books?โ€ I look forward to reading your replies on this post. Oh, and I donโ€™t know if other poets do this but I sleep with my entire poetry collection in my bedroom.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you, Cath, for bringing your readers attention to Children in Read. Itโ€™s a lovely way, as you say, to add to your collection of books as well as supporting a good cause. And where would we have been, over the pandemic, without books? We need them, and we can never have too many!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. As an avid reader and book lover, I know exactly how you feel about your personal library. When we renovated the entire floor of our apartment last December, my sons questioned the number of books I had. It led to a heated exchange. Since I’m always buying new books and have limited shelf space, I do a yearly thinning at the end of each year and donate the books to Goodwill. Love the “Children in Read” project!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hah! I recognise a bibliomane when I see one! I can’t remember if you saw this post ( but everything you said here strikes a chord.

    Weirdly, estate agents are supposed to discourage ‘ostentatious’ bookshelving in properties for sale as this is said to discourage buyers because it’s ‘intimidating’. Well, we’ve mostly sold houses to buyers who aren’t intimidated, so we like to think the shelves have enhanced the appearance and desirability of the properties!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve read your definitions. What an excellent post, I had missed it. Yes, your cap fits, I’ll wear it. I’m going to practice saying ‘bibliomane’.

      Clearly, ‘Books maketh the house’.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bibliomania has its dark side, an example of OCD applied to books — except that many hoarders rarely look at what they’ve collected, or even value them for their intrinsic value. I do look at what I’ve acquired — not every day, but often enough — and I do value each individual book for its own sake, so perhaps bibliomane is not quite the right word for me.

        On the other hand I associate bibliophilia with book dealers, and I don’t see myself as a book collector in that sense. Perhaps I’m just … a reader with a lot of books?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. These days all my books are in Calibre on the computer and in my eReader โ€• currently around 300 unread! But since they’re entirely invisible, it somehow doesn’t seem like I have as many piled up as it would if I were still adding volumes to the bookshelves …

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am also a story-hoarder like you Cath and this is the best kind of hoarding I feel. ๐Ÿ˜€
    You commented, “I havenโ€™t started building stacks on the floorโ€ฆ” and I couldn’t help laughing.
    All the best to BBC Charity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, fellow story-hoarder. May your shelves keep extending to meet your needs, so that you never need to start creating ‘stacks on the floor’ ๐Ÿ˜‰


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