When I was fourteen, I got my first library card.
All the sudden, I could borrow as many books as I wanted. I could go to the bookmobile every week and pick out a new book, or ten new books. I could reserve books online with my own card.
Technically, my mother would have let me get whatever I liked on her card too. But when you’re fourteen, your own library card holds a sense of power, of purpose and responsibility.
At least, that’s how I felt about it.
I was a little weird.
Still am, in fact.
I used that card nearly every week, and I always had a pile of books on my desk with a library recipe tucked inside their pages. The only rule about the library card was that I was in charge of the things I checked out, and any fines on my card had to be paid by yours truly. No running to my mom to borrow money because I’d forgotten to return a book on time.
I loved it.
Then, after a few years, I had an epiphany.
The library was all very well, but if I bought the books, I got to keep them.
Suddenly, that babysitting job of mine took on a whole new purpose. I found a little bookshelf at a thrift store, set it up on the corner of my desk, and figured that would do nicely to hold my very, very small collection of personal books.
It was a good plan. A brilliant one, in fact.
There was only one flaw.
My very, very small collection of books—did not stay very, very small.
In a few months, that little desktop bookshelf was joined by another, larger desktop bookshelf. Then replaced by a full-sized bookshelf. Then two full-sized bookshelves.
Now there are books in my closet.
They might be multiplying.
I blame the library card. Or possibly my mother, since she was the one who took us on all those Awesome Great Adventures to the library when I was little. She also read to us when we climbed in her bed in the mornings, instead of sending us to watch cartoons so she could sleep.
I’m sure that’s where my obsession started.
Also, she taught me to read when I was three. And corrupted me by bringing home laundry baskets full of books from library sales and thrift stores, so we always had new things to read together. I think she has four bookshelves now, not including the books the rest of her kids keep in their rooms, or the two bookshelves that belong exclusively to my dad for his books. I haven’t quite bought as many as they have yet, but I’m working on it.
Maybe it’s hereditary?