I don’t suppose a therapist would classify this an addiction, but I am inordinately fond of books. Having just moved to a new home in Midland, I find most of my time consumed by organizing books, buying shelves for books, and grieving the loss of a handful that fell victim to a spill in the moving van.
People ask why I want to possess so many books. Why do I keep books I have already read? Why do I buy books easily available in libraries, even online? And why would I keep a book that I am entirely unlikely to ever read?
I will admit that my bibliophilia borders on the obsessive. I do use libraries liberally and love the growing availability of documents on Google Books and other resources. Logic certainly would not explain the contents or size of my personal collections.
But, there are reasons for my madness. I am comfortable around and among books. Sometimes I feel smarter or more insightful just knowing that all of that collected knowledge resides in immediate proximity. There is an art to the library, from dust jacket illustrations to bindings. And, the symmetry and line of rows of texts appeals to my design sense.
The primary reason for my peculiar compulsion, however, is how my books help my spiritual practice. Just as I love to saunter along streets and pathways, I also love to walk among ideas in my mind. I cannot count the number of times a worship service design changed direction after a casual glance at a neighboring book, or the coincidental discovery of a text related (often in an obscure way) to the subject of my sermon. I know that virtual libraries will in time replace my beloved stacks. But, I will miss wandering among the towering shelves of Dewey-decimalled dusty tomes.