Looking for one more book

I have a book problem.

I’ve suspected this for a long while, but a couple things brought it home for me recently.

One of the things that should have clued me in are the frequent trips the children and I make to the Weirton Book Co.

If I don’t stop in for an extended period of time, they are concerned about my well-being.

I’ve waxed eloquent about them in this space before – they have everything, and those few things they don’t have, they will order for you. If you have some time on your hands, go visit them on Pennsylvania Avenue in Weirton. If you love books, you absolutely will not regret it.

Anyway, I should have realized there was a problem when my favorite book-pushers Jaime and Dave knew all of my favorite authors and when the latest book in a series I was reading came out. (It may just be good customer service – I’m going with that.)

Or the fact that they know the kids’ favorite authors or series.

Or the fact that I’d taken to paying for books in cash, so the Long Suffering Husband wouldn’t see the charge on the check card.

Or the fact that, if I was in the bookstore and he called, I would immediately feel panicked and guilty.

“Oh, hey, why are you calling? I’m not doing anything.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Just letting you know. That I’m not doing anything. At all.”

” … I just called to see if you needed me to pick up anything on the way home.”

“Nope. I haven’t picked up anything, either. Bye now!”

Or the fact that I was sneaking the books into the house and casually stuffing them in one of the many piles around the house, hoping he wouldn’t notice they were slowly growing.

And did we have piles of books around the house? Piles and piles of books. Lots of books. Mountains of books. Forests of books. Cascades, swamps of books! More books than I could read in a lifetime.

The LSH (not a reader) looked at all these piles of books, in all the rooms, on all the flat surfaces and did something about it. He bought some more bookshelves. All those beautiful empty shelves I immediately filled with more lovely books. I actually have an empty shelf or two, but don’t worry, I’ll take care of that directly.

So that was one of two epiphanies I had regarding my book problem. The second came while watching an episode of “Hoarders.” Now, I’m not sure why I watch it – probably so I can feel better about my own messy life, which is the gross, shameful vein I’m sure the producers know they are tapping.

No matter how many baskets of laundry are sitting in my living room waiting to be folded, I’m still in better shape than the people featured on the show. Of course, most of these people are cripplingly mentally ill and in need of help, so that doesn’t say much about me, except maybe I’m lucky enough not to be mentally ill and don’t possess enough self-awareness to know it.

Anyway, I was watching an episode, and a couple who had been collecting books since 1977 was featured. They had an estimated 500,000 in their little house, packing it wall to wall with only narrow pathways a single person could navigate wending from room to room.

I saw this and I did not feel horror or pity. I was jealous. Look at all the books they had! It wasn’t dirty – nary a cockroach to be seen, and the cockroach close-up is de rigueur for “Hoarders”! – it was just full of books. That’s not so bad, right?

I mean, there were frequent book landslides threatening to bury them, and emergency responders couldn’t make their way through the house, but …

I’m a bibliomanic and I need help … after just one more book.

(Wallace-Minger, a resident of Weirton, is the community editor of The Weirton Daily Times.)