Confessions of a Compulsive Book Buyer, Part 2

Hello, my name is Pete and I’m a book addict.

Like a junkie looking for a fix, I prowl the streets, wallet in hand, ducking into every store marked “Used – Rare – Out of Print.” I tell myself, “I’ll just browse.  What harm is there in looking?”  A few minutes later, “Just one.  One book.  Then I’ll leave.”  Hours pass.  Baskets and tote bags fill.  My wallet thins.

I’ve tried to quit.  I moved halfway around the world to a country where English books are rare and, thus, not a temptation.  Yet with scarcity of supply comes a rise in prices.  I pay more for my fixes.  Sure, I clean myself up, sometimes for months at a time.  I become contented, happy even, with the books I already own.  I look at my bookshelf with pride, thinking “There’s so much here, so many stories.  There’s no need for more.”

And then I falter.  I return to the small towns of the northeastern United States.  Used book sellers on every corner, a Barnes and Nobles in every strip mall, a flea market or garage sale every Saturday and Sunday.  Like an alcoholic in a liquor store, I am helpless to resist.  Books I’ve already read get thrown into the collection –  “It only costs $1.25 and the cover is different from the copy I already own, I really need a new copy anyway!”  The shame is crippling, yet I continue.

I’ve alienated friends and family.  I drag them from store to store with hollow promises of “5 minutes, that’s all I need.”  They trust me, desperately wanting to believe. Yet, I invariably disappoint  them – they wait for me by the check-out, sometimes for hours.  I have become unwelcome on many a shopping trip.

My pile of books grows precariously high.  I find myself rationalizing, making excuses.  “I don’t really need a new pair of pants,” or “My airfare baggage allowance back to China is 100 pounds – I can use half that on books.”   I know they’re excuses, but they help me cope.

At nights I stare at my contraband, admiring the covers and thinking about which one I might read next.  And always….always….thinking about my next fix.

A week worth of book buying



  1. I have a similar condition and wrote about my recent trip to the library used bookstop this week too. I found you through the hop. Off to check out your reviews!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Library used book shops are the best. There’s two in Philadelphia that I always end walking out of with more books than I can carry.

  2. Haha…no worries. Your addiction is perfectly acceptable here in the book blogging world. So, for a short while you don’t need to feel bad about your book buying tendencies. We’re all junkies.

  3. You can tell your addiction/compulsion has reached epic proportions when you begin buying books that you already own, but didn’t realize you’d already owned them. That’s a sure sign you either need to systematize your book-buying, come up with a better cataloging system, or just continue unabated with the knowledge that some day soon, you’re going to die buried under an avalanche of books…

  4. @Chelle – I’m glad to know I’m in good company 🙂
    @Tricia – That’s my thinking, a whole lot better than booze or crack. It might be just as expensive, though!
    @Greg – I had one of those moments the other day when I found a copy of Ian McEwan’s Atonement in a box of books after buying another copy the day before. I suppose there are worse books to have two copies of. As for dying in an avalanche of books, I can think of a whole lot worse ways to go. It would make for one interesting obituary, at the very least.

  5. My husband knows now that he doesn’t have to worry so much about big spending when I go to the mall. It’s when I tell him I’m at the bookstore that he freaks out!

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