Book Hoarding – A Happy Tale From Alethea Kontis

Today’s video is about a girl who lives surrounded by books – on shelves, on tables, on the floor, on the stairs – they are everywhere.  I had the great pleasure of meeting Alethea Kontis at the Nebula Awards in May, and she told me this story about a surprise she found in a collection of books from Andre Norton:

I wrote her  [Andre Norton] a letter, which turns out that was the perfect thing.  She was very heavy on correspondence.  She sent a card for every holiday, including Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year.  We corresponded quite a bit, even though we only lived a couple of miles from each other.  Because, you know, it was the last few years of her life, and she couldn’t get around very well, and I didn’t want to bother her or force her to stay up or be active if she didn’t want to.

But, I did go to the library a few times, and the last time was when she sold off the library.  When I went there, I bought $600 worth of books.  We were going through all the research stuff, and she was pulling them off and putting them in my cart, because she knew I would end up using them for research, and for writing.  She gave me a bunch of paper dolls, because those are helpful for costume design and description.

I didn’t open the boxes for years later, and finally I was cleaning up this room full of books, and I looked at the boxes, and I said to myself, “You are never going to read all these books.  Go through them, give away the ones you’re not going to use – come on!”  So I’m sitting there with a book in my lap, and the title is, Live Alone and Like It, by Marjorie Hillis.  It’s from 1920.  When am I ever going to read this?  But I couldn’t put it in the give away pile.  I just couldn’t do it.  So I thought, “Well, OK, if you’re going to keep it, you need to read it”.  So I open the book, and in the front, it says, “A talisman for Andre.  May it bring you what it brought me.  Anne”.  And I went to my Dragon Riders of Pern, and I checked Anne McCaffrey’s signature.  And it was a book, for Andre Norton, signed by Anne McCaffrey.  And I’m holding this in my lap, and I’m thinking, “I can’t give any of these books away, ever!”

How do you collect books?  Do you keep just a treasured few?  Do you keep them on your ereader?  Do you pile them up all over the house?  What books can you not live without?

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