Just ran across this listicle on ten signs of a hardcore bookworm. Since history aficionados tend to be bibliophiles, you’ll probably recognize some of your own habits therein.The only one I’m not guilty of is number eight—reading various books simultaneously. I only read one book at a time. Well, actually, I only read through one book at a time. I’ll dip into books I’ve already read while in the process of reading a new one from beginning to end. But when it comes to reading straight through a new title, I don’t juggle multiple books. Maybe it has something to do with my OCD.
I’m ridiculously uptight about my books. I don’t scribble notes in the margins, I don’t underline passages, and I darn sure don’t use a highlighter. (I do, however, stamp the half title page of each one I’ve read with a personal embosser I received as a Christmas present, as a means of staking an indelible claim without defacing them.) I live in mortal dread of a fire; the idea of losing the library it’s taken me years to build is almost too horrible to contemplate.
My apartment doesn’t have space for all my books, so about half of them are at my mom’s house: most of my dinosaur books, my religion books, almost all the fiction, and a smattering of other titles on miscellaneous topics. I miss them.
Part of the space problem is my backlog of unread books. I used to avoid stocking up on too many new books until I’d made significant headway in my pile of titles to be read. (The OCD again.) My buying habits changed when I started frequenting used bookstores. If you run across an interesting title in good condition and at a steep discount, you have to snag even the opportunity’s there. Now I have stacks of unread books that I have to pick up and move whenever I vacuum. I could probably get caught up if somebody imposed a four-year moratorium on the publication of new Rev War books, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.