I swear, I don’t have a problem!

Since moving is basically my life right now, I can’t help but write about it again. Finding a new apartment, it figures, is just the beginning. The relief only lasts for a little while before you turn around and see the vast accumulation of things you own. Where did all of this stuff come from? At least, that’s what I was thinking just the other night as my roommate and I were trying to devise ingenious plans for packing up and moving everything we own. Furniture? Simple. Clothes? That’s what suitcases are for.

All of this seemed reasonable, until I turned around again and was faced with the bookshelf. And the books stacked next to it. And the ones stacked in front of it. I looked in the kitchen and there was the pile of cookbooks on the radiator. Slowly, with suspicion, I walked into my room and saw the scattered jumble of books next to my dresser and on my nightstand. Same in the other bedroom. Panic. We don’t have enough boxes for this! There might not be enough boxes in all of Brooklyn for this! When did we turn into book hoarders?

Of course, I suppose, books aren’t the worst things we could be hoarding. Better than, say, perishable food or cats, and I suppose we don’t have a serious problem (yet), but it’s still overwhelming. I really don’t want to get rid of any of my books, despite that I know I’ll never read some of them again! As Matt Paxton, one of Jane’s clients and host of the A&E show Hoarders, writes in his book, The Secret Lives of Hoarders, there are many levels of hoarding, and I still think I’m safely below even level one. Which is a relief. I mean, come on, it’s books! There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of books! Surely some of you have similar problems in this particular area of hoarding and just for assurance that we don’t all yet need to be clinically diagnosed, maybe it’s best to check out this video from the expert himself:

Until it begins impeding on my daily life, I don’t think I’ll start worrying in seriousness, so I’ll just turn my focus now on accumulating boxes (and boxes. And boxes) in which to pack up the masses of reading material we’ve acquired over the years. If anyone is around on moving day, please don’t hesitate to help out—because after packing, comes actual transportation and then the most dreaded of all—unpacking…

7 Responses to I swear, I don’t have a problem!

  1. Ciara says:

    I would have this problem but I found a solution. Force someone else to keep my stuff. I used to lug boxes and boxes around with me every time I moved and I’ve lived in 8 apartments since 2005. But during this last move I decided to store every single one of my books bar about 5 of my favourites in my childhood bedroom. It’s not being used and my parents were helping me move so I just sent the books back with them. Now the only books I have in my flat are ones I’ve bought since last June. Which looking at them now, is an unhealthy amount.

  2. Silver James says:

    To me, there is nothing sadder than a book sitting on a shelf, neglected, unread, and therefore unloved. If you think you will never read a book again, why not share it with a friend…or a stranger. Pass it along to someone where it might find a good and loving home?

    But if you really can’t bear to part with any of them, a suggestion for packing and transporting–either use paper “grocery” sacks with handles or the environmentally correct cloth shopping bags. They are easy to pack, move (you can’t pack them so heavy that no one can pick them up) and come with their own handles, and easy to unpack once you are in the new place. Glad you found an apartment! And good luck with the move.

  3. Lisa Marie says:

    Oh goodness, if your worst problem is too many books, that’s not too threatening. I’d be more worried about too many handbags, pairs of shoes, designer outfits and other creature comforts. I have a book addiction, but I’m also a “perfumista.” My collection of full bottles created by niche perfumers like Linda Pilkington and Miller et Bertaux, as well as a whole army of fragrance from overseas perfume houses, numbers well into three digits. I tallied up the net worth of my collection, and it was a real jaw-dropper. Needless to say, I’ve put the brakes on … :)

  4. Gilbert J. Avila says:

    What I’ve always found inexplicable is that the books in a bookcase take up relatively little space, whereas when they are boxed they suddenly increase in volume and needing 2 or 3 banker’s boxes. It’s like my bookcases become Doctor Who’s TARDIS.

  5. I’m grateful that we now have a house with a basement. It’s in the suburbs—not as exciting as NYC or Brooklyn, but hey: storage! Also, Matt’s cool, but I think it’s all about Randy Frost and his work on hoarding. I loved his book, Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. Here’s a link the NPR story and interview. Not to spoil the surprise or anything, but his research indicates that extreme hoarding is often a response to unresolved trauma. It also frequently occurs in people who are highly intelligent and have a unique way of recognizing patterns in the world that other people miss; sort of somewhere between obsessive-compulsive and autistic. I think that’s all very interesting because I’m a counselor, but I understand if it’s less exciting to others.

    Books are hard to get rid of. My mother-in-law either buys them on Kindle or throws away the paperbacks. I just can’t bring myself to throw books in the trash. It feels wrong. Of course, hanging onto them means having boxes of books in the basement and risking people thinking I’m some kind of weirdo. ::sigh::

  6. Donn says:

    I have no qualms about dumping books. So my advise is: dump them.

    (Simple test to help override uncertainty: “Would I bequeath this to my daughter?” If no, well hell just chuck it.)

  7. Donna Hole says:

    My kids cringe whenever I talk of moving. Yep, its the book cases that make them groan. Fridge? Washer? Bunkbeds? Easy. The books take an entire moving van themselves. :)


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