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Lisa Scottoline: Collect Them All

You've heard the expression "Out with the old, in with the new." I'm not familiar. I say that because I'm noticing lately that I'm doing a lot of "in with the new," but not "out with the old."

You've heard the expression "Out with the old, in with the new."

I'm not familiar.

I say that because I'm noticing lately that I'm doing a lot of "in with the new," but not "out with the old."

Maybe because I'm getting older.

Or because I'm getting wiser.

Either way, I have too many books.

I know, I don't think it's a problem, either.

The only thing is, they're overtaking my house.

We begin a few years ago, when I began noticing that my books are piling up all over my dining table and I didn't have any bookshelves for them. So I had some bookshelves installed, first one wall of them in the dining room, then a second wall, and a third, and, over time, even those bookshelves got full. These were books that I have read and loved. Then I started collecting signed books, and so when one of my favorite authors would tour, I just called the store.

Who knew you could do that?

I did.

I started to get to the point where I shelved my signed books separately, in alphabetical order by author, and even had a little sign made for them.

The sign says, Signed.

Subtlety is not my strong suit.

You know this if you read my books.

Then my signed collection of books started growing, roughly at the same time as my TBR pile started growing. Hard-core readers know that a TBR pile means books To Be Read, but, for me, it could easily mean books To Be Reshelved Without Being Read, because more and more, I am acquiring too many books.

Let's assume for present purposes there is such a thing.

And so now I'm thinking about putting more bookshelves in my kitchen, of all places.


Because it's the only room in the house that presently has no bookshelves.

I don't know if you can put bookshelves in the kitchen, or if it's against federal law, but the great thing about a middle-aged woman is that we make our own rules.

And also that we never throw anything away.

And now there's going to be bookshelves in my kitchen.

Because I can't part with a single book.

I don't even lend my books.


Because they're mine, all mine. I treasure each one. I just love books.

The child in me will ask, if you love books so much, why don't you marry them?

The answer, of course, is that I have.

I have books that lasted longer than both marriages combined, and, somewhere along the line, I became a collector.

I always thought the world divided up into people who collect things and people who don't, with me being distinctly in the latter, but no longer.

I stopped being judgy.

And somehow the pleasure from collecting is different from everything else. Maybe it's rooted in the childhood commercials, because I know I can recall them instantly, where they say, Collect Them All.

And here I am, collecting them all, which is the worst kind of acquisitive urge because it's one that can never be fulfilled.

I mean, all?

It was one thing when there were three Barbies, but now there are 479 Barbies, and, of course, there are an endless number of books.

And I can't seem to help myself, nor do I even want to try.

My name is Lisa and I'm a bookaholic.

Please tell me I'm not alone in this.

Are any of you collecting anything? Is it threatening to overtake you? Are you building more shelves, display cases, or signs that say Signed?

Have you lost your damn mind, too?

Or are we simply greedy?

I'm wondering what drives the urge to collect, and whether it's just hoarding without a cable TV show.

What set am I trying to complete?

And don't tell me it's myself.

Because you might be right.

Look for Lisa and Francesca's latest humor collection, "I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places," and Lisa's new novel, "Damaged," in stores now. Also look for Lisa's new domestic thriller, "One Perfect Lie," coming in April.