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Don't Feel Bad. It's Okay to Have a Passionate Obsession with Books!

stack of books under a ladder
Photo by Victoria Priessnitz on Unsplash

It’s National Book Lover’s Day! For those of us who collect books, who get a physical thrill walking into a bookstore, who value the ideas captured in words and pressed on a page, this day is for us.

I’m here to affirm our obsession. We are not alone.

Famous people have obsessions with books, too. It’s not a crime to have a love affair with those shelves of books lovingly amassed over the years. It’s okay to go into a book-laden room and sigh with longing. Literary “hook-ups” are allowed. It’s appropriate behavior to let your fingers stroke words, touch titles, and linger lovingly over passages. Winston Churchill was a great “fondler…”

“If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them — peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the ey, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances.” —

Our priceless possessions…

In a world where people seek beauty, money, and status, this is a day when people who seek knowledge can be applauded. We might never have wealth or celebrity, but we have BOOKS.

If we want to escape reality, we open a book and jump into another time period or a country across the world. We don’t need rockets and boosters because we have books, true teleporters of the mind — and much cheaper than technology.

If we want to stop thinking about the details and stress of our daily lives, we can dive into a book and expand our minds. New languages, new crafts, new recipes are ours with the flip of a page. Anything we want to know can be found in a book.

“All that Mankind has done, thought, gained, or been: it is lying as in magic reservation in the pages of books. They are the chosen possession of man.” — Thomas Carlyle

The voracious, never-ending obsession with possession

Is the desire to own books an addiction?

Maybe. But is it a bad thing to want to know more? To experience more?

“Sir, the fact that a book is in the public library brings no comfort. Books are the one element in which I am personally and nakedly acquisitive. If it weren’t for the law, I would steal them. If it weren’t for my purse, I would buy them.” — Harold Laski

It’s not a sin to want to be intimate with our books, languishing in their lines, marking in their margins, playing in their passages. Owning books allows me to write in them, conversing with the characters, underlining quotes, assessing the author’s strategy. The books that I’ve read become writing tools and personal journals filled with marginalia, tangible proof of my obsession with words.

What’s not to love?

Bibliophiles understand the power and pleasure found in the open pages of a book.

What’s not to love?

Books teach us and transport us. They soothe, motivate, and inform us. They go beyond the pitter-patter of short, social media posts. Books reach deep into our psyches and touch our souls.

Books give us hope and happiness, release and relief.

“Just the knowledge that a good book is waiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.” — Kathleen Norris


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