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Old 07-17-2017   #11
Pan Michael
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Re: Book Hoarding

Great post Gveranon.

Yes, this is me. I have 5000 or so books spread throughout three rooms, and they are gradually overtaking all my living space. It's kind of funny, since they literally cost me more than a small house. And, with my low-paying, increasingly uncertain job, I now have the background anxiety that some day I won't be able to afford to house either myself or my books!

Speaking of which, what does one do with that many books if one is evicted? Buy a small trailer to cart them around? Dig a large hole in the woods and line it with plastic so they don't get wet? I think I can live in a tent without much bother. But I'd definitely lose sleep if my books weren't safely stowed somewhere.

Plus, my car has 100,000 miles on it, and seems to be rusting out. So when that goes, I will likely regret all those Tartarus Press and Centipede Press deluxe editions! Yes, if it weren't for the books, I could easily own a small house and have a new car! Alas, I'm not sure what to make of that....

At any rate, I'm very much like Lovecraft in needing to be surrounded by books, and by various things that remind me of my childhood. Without that, life is not in any way appealing to me.

At this point, my only desire is to be left alone with my dreams and my books, and not have to work. I do get frustrated that I've spent so much money on rare first editions, when I think that that money could have been put towards retirement. I certainly have a deep need to be free of work.... OK, so maybe after I buy that new Machen autobiography, and that ninth volume of Kenneth Grant's Typhonian series (to just have 8 without the final 9th volume would drive me crazy!), I will REALLY start saving? Yes, that will work!

Last edited by Pan Michael; 07-17-2017 at 03:42 AM..
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Old 07-17-2017   #12
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Re: Book Hoarding

My dad is a book hoarder. He can probably appear on an American TV show if he doesn't live in another country.

His house was built in his grandfather time, back in the 1930s, with one upper floor and balcony, one living room, one small bedroom next to the staircase, a separate squat toilet next to a kitchen, and another bathroom. Every building stores books. The upper floor and balcony are uninhabitable due to dust and termites living on the yellow books with ink long faded away. To go up we would need to walk on books lining the staircase and risk falling, so we don't bother anymore and upper floor books live in isolation there.

The ground floor is also surrounded by books, and we had rats and cockroaches living among the book towers. Eating, gathering, sleeping are done in one small floor area . No bed, we bought a large mattress which can be pushed up against the wall to free up space. Otherwise we would have nowhere to sleep. Though when there wasn't enough space for books, my dad renovated the kitchen/toilet building so there would be another attic and the toilet hallway expanded for books. The bathroom building has some books wrapped in plastic bag, and no shower head because that might damage them.

Sometimes at night a huge swarm of termites and moths would gather on the neon lights, when we turn off the light they flee to disturb our neighbors. We should have been reported and fined for "public disturbance" already, but the neighbors are afraid of my father's possessiveness. Getting rid of his books equals a violence on his person and a lawsuit. It's also useless because he would buy 10 books every three days (minimum).

The funny thing is he spends more time buying books, put them in plastic bags, moving the stacks more than reading them. He only flips through a few at the old book stores.

"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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Old 07-17-2017   #13
Pan Michael
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Re: Book Hoarding

This thread makes made me curious what Ligotti's own library looks like? If anyone here knows the answer, that would be an interesting bit of trivia.

Speaking of which, a few years ago I got a nice bonus check, and one of the things I spent it on was one of those expensive Lovecraft art books. I purchased it used for 300 dollars or somewhere in that range. Anyhow, I was very amused to find that it came from Thomas Ligotti himself! I'm not really into the cult of personality or anything like that, but, still, I have to admit that it was pretty cool seeing his Florida return address on the package..... Nevertheless, it made me wonder why he was getting rid of it? Utilitarianism? I could see that. Maybe he felt oppressed by the "clutter" of a book he would likely never have reread, and just wanted the cash? On the other hand, I assume he has enough money to not have to worry about rent and housing a nice library. So, I'm not entirely sure what the motivation was.

I'm also curious if Ligotti has thousands of volumes on old, 18th century bookshelves, or just a few crumpled up paperbacks sitting on a bare-bones, Ikea style bookshelf? I'm not sure, but if I had to guess, I would go with the latter hypothesis.

Anyhow, before I knew it was Ligotti sending the book, I e-mailed him with a few questions, which he answered very graciously. He just signed it "Tom", so I didn't know it was him at the time. But he definitely struck me as a good dude.

At any rate, what is the scoop on Ligotti's library--for those in the know? I have a book called "Lovecraft's Library", but I think I'm even more interested in knowing what Thomas has--or doesn't have--on his own shelves!
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Old 07-17-2017   #14
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Re: Book Hoarding

Good questions. I believe that there are a few members here who might know the answers, but we'll have to wait for them to chime in; it might take awhile.

I, also, purchased a few books directly from Tom back in the early 2000s. Your experience matches mine.

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Old 07-17-2017   #15
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Re: Book Hoarding

I have lots.

Lucian pigeon-holed the letter solemnly in the receptacle lettered 'Barbarians.' ~ The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen

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Old 07-17-2017   #16
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Re: Book Hoarding

Pan Michael, the whole financial predicament of buying books vs. paying for a place to store the books vs. saving for retirement is horribly familiar to me. I recommend having money automatically deducted from each paycheck, if you can arrange that. That has caused me to save much more for retirement than I otherwise would have. Investment earnings have also helped, but that is risky, of course. Like you, I just want space for books and to be left alone.

ToALonelyPeace, those are fantastic descriptions! Your father is in a dimension of book collecting that will never reach. I especially love this:

Quote Originally Posted by ToALonelyPeace View Post
The upper floor and balcony are uninhabitable due to dust and termites living on the yellow books with ink long faded away. To go up we would need to walk on books lining the staircase and risk falling, so we don't bother anymore and upper floor books live in isolation there.
That staircase, balcony, and upper floor seems like a place that should never be disturbed.

Ligotti has said in interviews that he doesn't read much anymore, but I think he also said he collected all works by the few authors that he really admires, and critical works about them, too. I suspect that some of the books he sells are author's copies or contributor's copies, of which he probably has a number.

Justin Isis, given our previous exchanges on this topic, your Thanks of my post reeks of schadenfreude.
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Old 07-17-2017   #17
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Re: Book Hoarding

(Easter Egg-Right click on images, open in new tab.)
( These are a couple of nifty things I happened to have in my office and snapped a quick pic of them.)


As far as what Tom has in his "library", he has relatively few books when compared to what he did have in the past. He used to have loads of books, and used to be a voracious reader of fiction, back in the day, as it were. For various reasons that you don't need to be too imaginative to conjure, he does very little reading of fictional materials at this point. I would say he does more "technical" reading than anything else at this point. Having said that, I have quite a few ex libris copies that I acquired from Tom over the years. For example, 6 or 7 years ago he sent me all his copies of Thomas Bernhard's works, as well as all of Dino Buzzati's tomes that he owned, so I was lucky enough to get those, among others. Tom doesn't even have copies of his own books on his shelves, reprints or otherwise. In fact, I have acquired a good deal of his personal copies of those as well, as well as hand-written manuscripts, introductions that were never used, and other such things, which I am grateful for. So Tom does not have much kicking around in terms of a "library" of his own, at least when it comes to the stuff you would expect a guy like him to have. Having said that, there are few people I know of that have read as much as Tom, and he certainly has encyclopedic knowledge of literary fiction and far, far beyond that. I have never encountered another human being that knows as much as he does. In fact, I have never had a conversation with him about anything that he could not contribute to in a very deep, meaningful way. It is truly astonishing.

And to Pan Michael, I also have Tom's copy of the Lovecraft Art book, the one you mentioned above, which is signed and inscribed with a silver Sharpie. As you know, it is huge and weighs as much as a boat anchor.

As far as hoarding books is concerned, I have been collecting them since I was a kid. I still have tons of them, and have gotten rid of those which I no longer wanted over the years. I focus primarily on limited print runs of first edition hardcovers, both old and new, and have done so for a very long time. My book collection is probably the most important thing I own, generally speaking. Some day when I am no longer kicking, they will go to my daughter, and I have been trying to help her understand that it isn't just a book collection, if you catch my drift...

I tell you everything that is really nothing, and nothing of what is everything, do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying. ~Charles C. Finn

Last edited by Ascrobius; 07-17-2017 at 02:51 PM..
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Old 07-17-2017   #18
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Re: Book Hoarding

Yes, Ascrobius' input was the one I was waiting for. Perhaps now that things are more settled he will favor us with some photos of his collection.

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Old 07-17-2017   #19
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Re: Book Hoarding

Quote Originally Posted by gveranon View Post

ToALonelyPeace, those are fantastic descriptions! Your father is in a dimension of book collecting that will never reach. I especially love this:

Quote Originally Posted by ToALonelyPeace View Post
The upper floor and balcony are uninhabitable due to dust and termites living on the yellow books with ink long faded away. To go up we would need to walk on books lining the staircase and risk falling, so we don't bother anymore and upper floor books live in isolation there.
That staircase, balcony, and upper floor seems like a place that should never be disturbed.
That is a great description, and I agree. In an old apartment where I used to live in the midst of book boxes, I would, on occasion, unearth books only to find that they had worm holes in them, and I knew I didn't buy them in that condition. In one instance, I actually found the little guy still sleeping in there. I gently closed the book and placed it back in the box. I'm sure he needed the book far more than I did.
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Old 07-17-2017   #20
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Re: Book Hoarding

I think that working in a used book store has affected my collector/hoarder tendencies in a positive and negative way. I have always wanted to have an impressive library, but one which I have read at least a significant portion of. I think that I used to tend to see things as more valuable then they actually are (I come from a long line of antique collectors/garage salers who tended to see many things as having some inherent value and potential to be collectors items).

Since starting my current job some seven years ago, I am surrounded by books at work and at home. I can buy books with trade credit rather than cash and have amassed quite a number of books (I'm not sure how many but three wide bookshelves over six feet tall and a few smaller ones eat up the perimeter of my smallish living space). The job, however, has turned me into much more of a wheeler-dealer and I see things as being more liquid than I used to when I was younger and had attachments to certain possessions. When I have had a book on my shelf for some months or a couple of years, I sometimes realize that I bought them in an excited mindset and that, as time went on, the thought of owning said book lost its luster. Then it is time to trade it back into my workplace and get something else. It is a lucky position to be in in that sense. It is easy to get rid of things that I don't want any more in a time when books are not flying off the shelves. And I'm happy to take trade credit rather than cash.

That said, as time goes on, my collection becomes more refined. Of course I will part with the more readily available books first if I need to free up space on my shelves. The books I get attached to tend to be harder to find. And I do spend a lot of actual money on books because the stuff I really enjoy rarely gets traded in to where I work (my reading tastes are pretty much what you would expect from a TLO member). Lately, I find it getting harder and harder to get rid of the books as I trade in the more available titles for stuff that is a little harder to find. I find I am constantly in the liminal space between collector and hoarder. (I also have many records and DVDs, but my main concern is books).

I also am in charge of ordering a small selection of new titles for the store. These tend to be incredibly popular, best-selling titles that don't come in used as often as we would like (Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and Lovecraft are currently selling well for us at full cover price). But since I hold the reins for the new orders I will put a couple of titles in each order for myself to buy with my stash of trade credit. So I am able to further flesh out my collection with titles from Chomu, Snuggly, Valancourt and the like.
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