The Book Stash
January 11th, 2012

Today on AAR, there’s a post about book hoarding. It’s the book equivalent of saving the cherry on the top of the cupcake for last: holding books you’re excited about in reserve for some particularly meaningful moment.

This hit home today because I’m finally reading Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours, which I’ve had sitting around for months now, waiting until I’d finished the Kenya book. I did the same with Jennifer Crusie’s Agnes and the Hitman, which lived on a pile in my bedroom for months, awaiting an auspicious moment. Georgette Heyer’s The Spanish Bride and Books Twoand Threeof the Hunger Games trilogy are still in the queue.

I have mixed feelings about book hoarding. On the one hand, sometimes saving that book means that you find it again at just the right moment. Some of my best reading experiences– Susanna Kearsley’s The Rose Garden, Jen Lancaster’s Bitter is the New Black— have been on airplanes, since I so often save books for trips, in that special floaty place way above the ground where my ordinary cares and distractions have no place.

On the other hand, there’s always the danger of over-hype or forgetfulness. Especially with much-praised books, by the time I get around to reading them, expectations are so high that the book suffers by comparison. Often, it’s not the book’s fault at all. It’s just that it was meant to be Special with a capital S, to serve some need outside of itself. Other times, books sit around for so long that by the time I get around to them, I’ve lost interest. It’s the impulse read that catches me: the book purchased on a whim or rediscovered from an even older pile.

Do you hoard books for special occasions?



19 Responses to “The Book Stash”

  1. Jessie says:

    I do this a lot actually. Often I do it when I find an old series or a writer I like. I used to plow through all a new author’s works when I discovered them, but now I like to spread them out a bit so I can savor them.

  2. Jessica S. says:

    Not really — I’m incapable of letting a book I’m looking forward to linger on the shelf. This is why I plan deadlines around your books so that I feel entitled to taking some time to read right away! One failed attempt at book hoarding was this spring, with Jen Lancaster’s If You Were Here. I tried, valiantly, to save it for my trip to Brazil. FAIL. I convinced myself that it was better to take several paperbacks rather than one hardcover (IYWH was just out then). So I picked up a handful of Emily Giffins for my trip and tore through IYWH on a car trip somewhere.

  3. Sheila says:

    Since I won’t know for sure if it is a “best book” I don’t really save. And you are one author I could not possibly put off at all. I just finished The Distant Hours, and really enjoyed it . I would be very interested in your thoughts on reading and the writing process, as this is a very important part of the story.

  4. jeffrey says:

    I’m not guilty of “hoarding” behavior. Everything readable within reach gets immediately devoured. The Spanish Bride looks inviting. I’ve read An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer and found it to be one of the finest detailed accounts of the Battle of Waterloo ever put to paper in a book of fiction.

  5. Georgia says:

    I do it sometimes, but it doesn’t always work. I recently saved The Art of Fielding for a trip and just could not force myself finish it. But sometimes it works, like saving the Mischief of the Mistletoe for Christmas.

  6. AngelB says:

    For me, I’m hoarding the free classics on my Nook. I totally stocked up on Zane Grey, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, etc.

    The drawback, so far, is that the free ones are sometimes really bad scan jobs – like the Zane Grey books. I’ve tried two so far, and had to stop reading because they were just too poorly scanned to read and stay sane.

    Another problem I have is starting long books and gettings sidetracked with other books and not returning to them. I’ve started The Professor by Charlotte Bronte countless times and Georgette Heyer’s Infamous Army is been half-way read for a year now.

  7. Tracie says:

    I am a major book hoarder. Many of my favorite authors, including you, Lauren, only release one book a year, so I buy their new books and set them aside for several months. Then, I will read them when the time is just right (on a trip, on a holiday when I’m not working or stressed out, when I’m in the mood for romance, mystery, adventure, paranormal – whatever it is that particular book has to offer.)

    Also, when I discover a new author/series that I’m ga ga over (like my new addiction, the Fever books by Karen Marie Moning), I will force myself to take breaks between books so that I can cleanse my reading palette with something else. As tempting as it is to mainline an entire series at once, I find I get a lot more out of it if I take my time and pace myself.

  8. Cathy says:

    I don’t hoard books, as soon as I get them, I read them. I will stick post it notes in my calendar so that if a new book is due out soon I have the date that I can either download it on my Kindle or go and pick it up somewhere. If it is one that I don’t think I will be able to put down, I will try to hold it until I have a light work schedule so I won’t be mad about having to stop reading.

  9. Jennifer says:

    I might get a book for a specific event or time and hold it for a week or so for that to come around. For example I often get a Christmas book in mid-November and wait until December to start reading it. Or I buy a book to read while traveling and save it for the trip so I don’t accidentally finish it before we leave. Or more likely be too absorbed in the book to get everything else ready for the trip!

  10. Gina says:

    I don’t really hoard books on purpose. What happens more often is that I do too much book shopping and then (as it did on Monday) the semester starts and all my reading time goes away. If that counts, I’m hoarding a lot right now…

  11. SusanN says:

    I don’t so much save books for a “special occasion” as I do for when “the time is right.” If I’m busy, tired, distracted, don’t have much time, I’m probably going to choose something relatively short and light to read. I’ll save the books that I want to savor or that require more concentration and commitment for another time.

    Of course, sometimes I get surprised by the short and light filler books and they end up being truly memorable.

    Book hoarding is a whole ‘nother matter. I own a shocking amount of “real” and ebooks, and I add more to the collection all the time. But don’t tell anyone.

  12. Sharin says:

    Yep, you found me out. I hunt down books when I hear about them and hang onto them until the right moment. Sometimes it works out great and other times, as you mentioned, I lose interest. I have to say that it’s really nice when I have a new book in a series I really like. I can’t save those. :)

  13. Virginia says:

    I don’t squirrel books away. I am a book hoarder though. I most often buy books in bulk (used books, fill up a paper bag for $5? Yes please!) and then it takes me months to read them all. My TBR pile is ginormous. If I waited for special times to read specific things I’ll never get through it.

  14. Kiernan says:

    I just did this with The Rose Garden. I pre-ordered, it arrived 2 months ago, but didn’t touch it again until late last week. One part anticipation, one part escape valve if the holidays went really south, or maybe a reward for surviving them. Kearsley is a sure thing for me, it was just nice to know it was there. Did it suffer from the hype and excess anticipation? Maybe a little, but that’s the sin of not being my most favorite favorite and there are much worse things.

    When I glommed Julia Quinn’s back catalog, I left one out. It didn’t sound the most promising and I kind of like knowing there is one out there, just in case I need a new (to me) Julia Quinn on a bad day. My own break glass in case of emergency, or desperate need to escape.

  15. Bridget Erin says:

    I’m a slight book hoarder. I go through phases where I want to read a favorite and get side tracked from my reading pile. I am guilty of buying numerous books at once and having it take me awhile to get to them. And I’m awful about series. If a new book in a series comes out, I reread all of them.

  16. I’ve never been a book hoarder. There are very few books that I own that I haven’t read.

    On another note, I’m in the middle of “The Seduction of the Crimson Rose.” I had just finished reading the chapter where Mary and Vaughn have their first kiss, and when I started reading the next chapter (which switches back to Eloise and Colin) I was saying to myself, “Colin? Who the hell is Colin? Oh yeah–COLIN!” I was so engrossed in Vaughn and Mary’s scene that’d I’d forgotten all about Colin and Eloise..lol Well done, Lauren!

  17. Jayne says:

    I guess I hoard free books on my Kindle, but for paper books my buying rate is often faster than my reading. I have lots of books that I will get to “one day”. Some books I just have to be in the right mood to tackle, and others I have to read as soon as I get them.

  18. Michelle Springer says:

    I try to read things as I get them, but it doesn’t always work. My book pile is terribly big right now, and set to get worse, thanks to my Christmas present.
    On a realted note… I’m finishing Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) and it’s really good! Can’t wait to read Mockingjay.

  19. AmyN says:

    I have lots of paperback/hardback books and I’ve read 90% of them. The other 10% are waiting to be read. Every once in awhile I impulse buy at the used book store, or occasionally on Amazon, while looking for something specific. I don’t buy just to have. There has to be an interest in the subject/author. I keep the books I’ve read – books were, and always have been, reliable friends opening doors and windows to who/what/where. My husband would say I hoard books and my response to that is take a look at his basement full of Bud memorabilia, etc. then come talk to me~ :-)


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