I hoard books and I cannot lie. This is the one habit that probably helped keep me sane during the lockdown. However, all my life, I’ve had to deal with inquisitive family members and friends who wondered if I actually read all the books I bought or if I was simply showing off. In my defense, I eventually get around to reading at least 70 percent of the books I buy.
But, really, who, no matter how voracious a reader, reads every single book they buy? That doesn’t mean we buy books to fill up our bookshelves or post pictures with them on Instagram. Readers will agree that when we buy books, we have every intention of reading each one of them. It’s just that invariably we will go out and buy more books before we have finished the previous selections. That’s just how it is.
My habit of hoarding books started during childhood. Now, I will conveniently shift the blame on my dad. While he never let me have more than one chocolate or one toy whenever we went out shopping, my dad never set a limit when it came to buying books. He would let me pick as many as I wanted. Sometimes, I wanted a dozen—comics and books both. And I got them. I don’t ever remember a time we went to a bookstore and I walked out with just a book.
Now that I’m married to a voracious reader, the hoarding has gotten worse—there are two of us doing it. We probably spend a major chunk of our salaries on books, when we travel most of our luggage is filled with books, and we gift each other, and our friends, books at almost every occasion.
Both of us also enjoy sharing what we are reading. We post about our vacay book hauls—piles that are at least two- to three-feet high and weekend reads on social media. The response is almost always along the lines of: “How do you find the time to read all this?”, “Do you actually read them all/really fast or are you just posting to make people jealous?” and an indignant, “No one can read this fast. You were reading something else two days ago.”
The thing is when you love to read, you cannot not read. I always need a story in my head. I’ll go crazy otherwise. Every family has its drama and, to make matters worse, I don’t necessarily like people. Thinking of these fun fictional characters gives my brain the break it needs from the theatrics of daily life. So, I read—compulsively, obsessively. I read on the stationary bike. I read during commutes—when the car’s stalled and I can put the vehicle in neutral. I read during tea breaks when my colleagues are busy ‘catching up’. I read whenever I can, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
Sometimes, I read a book in a day, other times it takes me a couple of days and some books I finish in a week or a month. And while I definitely buy more books than I could ever possibly read, every book I haven’t gotten around to reading and is gathering dust on the bookshelf is on my to-read list. And no, I’m not posting photos of one book after another just to get on your nerves—just like you aren’t posting food or cocktail hours photos to get on mine.