Here's part of Dirda's comments and a couple of the comments.
Dealing With a Book Addiction
This past Thursday I went down to Georgetown to have lunch with an editor from Viking.... [O]nce I said goodbye, I immediately scuttled across the street to Bartleby’s Books... I ended up buying two novels by Flann O’Brien... [A]s it happens, I already owned both these books. But I lacked the jacket for The Third Policeman and I only had a paperback of The Hard Life. And so I bought them.
Since I don’t get to Georgetown very often, I naturally stopped off at its other used bookshop, The Lantern. There I ended up taking home a nice copy of The Princess and Curdie and an English edition from Hamish Hamilton of James Thurber’s My Life and Hard Times... Here, too, I already owned these books...
I suppose this inability to resist these already owned volumes indicates addiction, and given that I have thousands of books in boxes, that seems the likeliest diagnosis...
Do others here, I wonder, feel that their book buying is an addiction or compulsion? Do others have this vision of civilized knowledge and art compacted into a single wonderful room?...
I won't buy but just look, since I have more enough books to read through 2325, but, geez, look, it's the new Peter Beagle collection or spiffy reissue of a book I decided 10 years ago I'd never read and so rooted out of my collection with only 6 hours or so of agitation over whether I might someday change my mind and, dang, wouldn't you know, I did change my mind three hours after selling it but could never find it again ...
I can see myself sitting in an overstuffed leather chair in front of the fireplace, a huge mirror above the mantle, surrounded by dark wood and bookshelves about to burst.
And books are, indeed, the one thing I find myself disturbingly and pathetically materialistic about...
Also, a bookshelf for me takes on some of the qualities of a photo album; a generous catalogue of where I've been, who I was, and what I was thinking. It holds a lot of treasured memories and truly, when I'm sprawled in the lounge, I do feel that I'm surrounded by old friends.
Anyone else have thoughts on book addiciton?
BTW, do you know about Bookcrossing? It's a place on the web to register books and leave them in public places. The people who pick up the books are expected to register their finds and record their reactions. And then to leave the book in a public place so someone else can take the book on further journeys.
I once left a Bookcrossing-registered book in a Northfield coffee shop. If anyone picked it up, she or he did not follow the Bookcrossing instructions, so I have no idea whether abandoning the book led to someone else's pleasure.
It's still worth a try. Check it out.