Crazed bibliophile seeks help with addiction – read all about it: Susan Morrison
Oh, all right. It's me. My name is Susan Morrison and I am addicted to buying books. I can’t resist.
Naturally, there are thrillers and crime novels. Everyone needs that for a long train journey. There are a remarkable number of history books ranging from the history of the Royal Navy to a brief and very jolly history of toilet paper. Biographies, because who doesn’t enjoy nosing about other people’s lives?
There do seem to be rather a lot of odd ones. ‘Clyde Steamers 1924 - 1960’ is a belter. I have the ‘Boys Book of British Ships’, printed 1935 and a rattling good read. It does feature the Queen Mary, which is good, but not the Titanic, which is irritating, but I can cope with that omission. She’s got an entire shelf to herself.
Visitor attraction gift shops are lethal. Can’t resist them.There are books about the Bamburgh Castle, IK Brunel, the history of the RNLI and how they built the Falkirk Wheel.
So many and sadly, not all of them read. I’m not alone in this. There’s even a Japanese word for it, tsundoku, which basically means people like me who buy books and pile them up, clearly afraid that some sort of book shortage is on the horizon.
I’ve managed to come up with a coping strategy for this reckless buying behaviour. Book-sniffing, or perhaps it should be book-breathing.
Really good secondhand bookshops are best for this, like the giant Barter Books in Alnmouth or the new Community bookshop on Great Junction Street.
Just step in, preferably on a dreich dank day, and take a deep breath in. Smell those books. There’s a faintly vanilla-like scent. It's caused by a chemical in the paper called Lignin. It's actually related to vanilla and as it breaks down over time, it causes that slightly sweet scent, like ice cream. Must be true. I read it in a book once.
My other strategy is to go into the many great new bookshops that are opening all over the city. Curse you, Argonauts, Portobello Bookshop, Typewronger and Toppings. You know you're just book pushers for helpless addicts like me.
But now what I do is snorfle about the history and biography, then buy a couple of children's books to give to the many pals I have now with babies. I get my fix, they get a good story.
The time has come to empty the shelves. There’s a little bookcase In Leith Victoria Swim Centre under a sign asking people to donate books.
Last week I took the first batch round. Mainly the fiction I bought for train journeys. I’m going to have to work my way up to donating the heavyweight history.
This has triggered a whole new wave of anxiety. I’m in that gym and the cafe at least three days a week. What if no-one takes the books?
That’s a fairly damning indictment of my book tastes. Surely some-one will enjoy a brief history of 19th century radical unrest in Ayrshire?