Hi, my name is Jason and I’m a bibliophile

I love books. I love how they smell, how they feel in your hand,I love everything about them. I never saw anything wrong with thatuntil my girlfriend started complaining last week. She said that wenever go out and we never do anything together and that I spend allmy time with my books.

I mentioned that that this wasn’t true, just the week before werearranged the books in our living room. We did that together.

My girlfriend said I was crazy. I thought of all those nightswhen I had the overwhelming desire to run to Powell’s just beforethey closed to be sure that they didn’t have any new signededitions sitting on the shelf, even though I had checked thatmorning. I started to wonder: what if I was crazy?

I looked up the word “bibliophile.” The Webster’s UniversalEncyclopedic Dictionary -Yes, I own that dictionary, yes, it isreally impressive, and no, you can’t borrow it – defines abibliophile as “a lover of books especially for qualities offormat.”

I decided to check the internet as well; it returned searchresults about book clubs and where to purchase rare books. I wastedtwo hours looking for a signed edition I didn’t have and I wasabout to alert my girlfriend to my findings when I looked furtherup the page in the dictionary.

There was this word that better defined my book collectinghabits. This word is “bibliomania.” Webster’s defined it as”extreme preoccupation with collecting books.” So I decided to doan internet search on bibliomania.

There was trouble.

I got a hit on the online Encyclopedia of Mental Illness. Yes, Isaid mental illness. It defines bibliomania as “the obsessivepurchase or collecting of books to the point where social relationsor health are damaged.”

Now I was worried.

I have never damaged my health with my pursuit of books,but I must admit that it has stunted my social growth. I findmyself in the stacks at Powell’s many more hours of the day than Ifind myself in front of the TV. I have told my friends I couldn’tgo out when all I had planned was rearranging my bookcases andthere was that business with my girlfriend being angry. Maybe I ama bibliomaniac.

The term bibliomania represents the furthest extreme of the bookcollector. Surely that isn’t me? I have a life, it just happens torevolve around books. I decided it was time to call an expert. Ididn’t call a psychiatrist; they might go ahead and diagnose meover the phone. I needed to call someone I could trust. I calledPowell’s.

I talked to Chris Hagen, the used book manager at the greatestbookstore in the world and greatest place on earth, Powell’s Cityof Books on Burnside. What I needed to know was what kind of personspent their time in search of rare books and if that type of personis crazy.

Hagen was very forthright. “Forget about the middle-age man withthe tweed coat and the patches on the elbows,” he told me.

The people he encounters are of all shapes and sizes.

“The one thing that they have in common is that they are allbibliophiles,” Hagen said.

Then we talked about books, he told me about this wonderfulcollection of…right, moving on.

What Chris couldn’t tell me was whether or not I am crazy.

Now that I think about it, he wouldn’t have told me that anywaybecause it would have hurt his business. I may be crazy, that’s allright, because crazy or not I still have one hell of a bookcollection. I’d rather be crazy and surrounded by my books, thansane and watching reality television. So sometimes in this world welive in, being a little obsessive about something can be a goodthing.

I’m all right with being a little crazy; it’s the only thingkeeping me sane.