Tags: carlos maria dominguez

Young Mrs. Clarke

Too Many Books

I'm a full-time writer (in the parlance of book-jacket biogs -- naturally, I do other things with my time.  Come to think of it, I probably spend more time sleeping than I do writing.) but I also have an occasional part-time job, my wages paid by the local council.  Job description:  Relief Library Assistant.  
     For about seven years I worked in the old Campbeltown Public Library, filling in when the librarian or her assistants had their annual breaks, or a day off, when the librarian broke her leg, when one or more of the assistants were ill.  I loved that job (all the more, I'm sure, because it wasn't every day) and the experience inspired my novel The Silver Bough - where the library and the wee toon appear under an easily penetrated, thin disguise.  But after awhile the drive (an hour) -- although it was along the beautiful route that inspired Paul McCartney's song "The Long and Winding Road" -- and the aging of my car, along with the ever-increasing price of petrol made me decide to give it up.  But in case of emergency, they can still call me (library emergency services! my dream job), and I'm always willing to fill in when needed at our village library.
     Our little village library is open only two days a week.  It's about the size of, oh, I don't know, a doctor's waiting room, perhaps.  I own about twice as many books as the local library stock -- the books I have stored in boxes in the attic would easily fill all the shelves in the library, and spill over the floor in piles. 
     I have too many books. 
     For a long time I thought my house was too small, but now I realize I was kidding myself.  There is such a thing as having too many books.
     I was in Tarbert Library last week, performing my relief library assistant duties.  For much of the time, this meant I was sitting behind the desk, hoping someone would come in, so I began reading a book (just returned, two weeks overdue):  The Paper House by Carlos Maria Dominguez.  This turned out to be about the perils of owning too many books.  After extolling the joys of building a personal library, eventually there came this line: "There is a moment, however, when we have accumulated so many books that they cross an invisible line, and what was once a sense of pride becomes a burden, because from now on space will always be a problem."
     How true.  
     Having recognized my problem, I feel like an addict deciding to embark on the Seven (or however many there are) Steps to Recovery.  I'm still hesitating.