Strangled By Books

BOOKS!I haven’t had time to blog this past week because I’ve started to sell books. I don’t mean I’ve become a bookseller. I mean I’ve started to sell my own books.

I had a lot of books. A LOT of books. At the time HOLD ME was published, one of the fun facts I gave the publisher was that I had well over 3000 books. Since then, the number, um, swelled.

A LOT of books.

I love books. Freaking love them. I think every house should have lots and lots of books. If I get interested in a subject or latch onto a new author, I purchase EVERYTHING I can find about that subject or from that author.

That’s not necessarily bad, but my acquisition of books had gone well beyond the point where it was healthy. I can’t tell you how much credit card debt I’ve acquired from purchasing books and e-books. I’m a publisher’s dream. I distinctly remember a time when Amazon was delivering boxes to my house EVERY DAY. Once sanity raised its head, I found I had charged well over a thousand dollars for books. And don’t even get me started on Kindle’s One Click purchasing system…

The worst part was, I didn’t always READ the books I bought. Don’t get me wrong – I always wanted to read them, I always intended to read them. And I kept them because I told myself I would read them. Someday. Besides, what if I needed them?

I want to be clear here – collecting books – even books you don’t read – is not a bad thing. But for ME and in MY circumstances, it wasn’t good anymore.

A few weeks ago, I had one of those dreams. I dreamt I was struggling to walk down a road, but I could hardly move because I was weighed down by my books. They were strangling me. When I woke up, the dream clear in my mind, I realized I had begun to think of my books as a burden instead of a joy.

After thinking some more, I saw that I thought owning a lot of books meant I was happy. If I wasn’t happy, I just needed to buy more books to become happy again. I had tied my happy to books.

Now, I know books CAN make you happy. If you read them, and they work their magic in you, they are wonderful. But if you just own them and give them space in your house, if you resent them because purchasing them has put you in more debt, then they don’t make you happy any more.

I also realized I’ve held onto books simply because people have mocked me for owning a lot of books. They haven’t understood the importance books have in my life. So part of it was stubborn pride on my part.

But you can’t let the things you own strangle you just because of stubborn pride.

So I’ve started to sell my books. Not all of my books – NEVER all of my books – but the books I owned for the sake of owning a lot of books. So far I’ve gone through my hundreds and hundreds of reference, literary and various scholarly-type books. I’ve even made money from them (thank you, book buyback sites) and what I couldn’t sell I’ve been able to donate. I haven’t really touched the paperbacks yet, but I’m making progress.

The books left on my shelves mean something to me now. They aren’t just owned.

It’s so easy to think that you have to hold onto something without considering why you’re doing it. It’s so easy to get to a place where we work to support our possessions because we think we need them to be happy.

But sheer quantity of possessions – even books – can’t make us happy.

And lifting all of the boxes of books to ship or donate them sure has built up my muscles! Here – let me flex for you.



  1. Oh, Betsy, you took the words out of my mouth! I did exactly the same thing bust donated over 700 of my picture books and that felt so good. Now on to the other books! Good for you.

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @Nancy: I’m glad I’m not the only one! I don’t think there’s a 12 step program for book addiction – but there should be! LOL It really does feel good to have gotten this far. Now come the paperbacks… 😀

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