Admitting It Is The Hardest Part
My name is Ruth…and I’m a book collecting addict and have been for over ten years. It’s a compulsion and I can’t help myself. I can’t pass a second hand bookstore without going in and Amazon frequently tempts me with new and exciting books. I JUST CAN’T STOP BUYING BOOKS. And here I am finally telling you – my lovely readers – the real truth about my book addiction. I’ve alluded to my love of books and book collecting over the years with the occasional #bookstagram post on Instagram but I never went into any detail about the extent of my book collection. The truth is I have ALOT of books and my collection grows year by year.
I don’t collect any old book. Like any serious book collector, my book collection is niche. I collect only books written and/or illustrated by the childrens author and illustrator Shirley Hughes. My love for Shirley Hughes books begain when I was very little – probably before I learnt to walk. My Mum would read my brother and I the well-known Shirely Hughes books ‘Dogger‘ and the ‘Alfie’ series of books, about a little boy Alfie and his adorable baby sister Annie Rose. I don’t know anyone else who depicts children as well as Shirley does. Her illustration of babies, children and family life are so ‘normal’ and heart warming you just can’t help but be drawn to them.
Shirley is originally from Liverpool and illustrated countless childrens books (including Peter Pan, The Secret Garden and the My Naughty Little Sister series) before beginning to write and illustrate her own in the 1970s. In 1977 and 2003 she won the Kate Greenaway Medals for British children’s book illustration. In 2007, her 1977 winner, Dogger, was named the public’s favourite winning work of the award’s first fifty years. She won the inaugural Booktrust lifetime achievement award in 2015.
Shirley is a prolific writer and illustrator and even now, at the age of 90, she is still producing wonderful books for children. She is such an inspirational lady and I’m so glad I finally wrote to her a while back and put into words why I’m an admirer of her work. I got a written reply back from the lady herself and it honestly made my month!
How It All Began
I suppose you could say my book collecting began when I was a child and my mum bought me and my brother Shirley Hughes books because I still have those books. But my true addiction to book collecting began a little over ten years ago when I happened across an old book with Shirley Hughes illustrations in it. I knew immediately the artwork was by Shirley – she just has such an unmistakable style. Up until then I had no idea that Shirley Hughes used to illustrate for other well-known childrens authors. This discovery led me to keep searching in second hand stores to see what else I could find. It wasn’t long before I had built up quite a collection of books written and/or illustrated by her. In those days I was at university and had a real love for charity shops and second hand stores (and still do). I used to spend alot of my spare time looking for the next book gem. Soon I was running out of room on my book shelf at home and had to keep my new-found books in storage baskets.
The Extent Of My Addiction
Currently I have ____ books in total – 50 written and illustrated by Shirley and 60 illustrated-only by Shirley. I have many different versions of the same book – hardback and softback versions, different editions etc. I like to think I’m a true collector. My collection runs across one very long Ikea shelf in my dressing room/spare room. All my books are out on show which I love and I try and make a habit of flicking through the books regularly. Of course, I’m now trying to brainwash Rose and get her into Shirley Hughes books! Afterall, I did name her (in-part) after Shirley’s much loved character Annie Rose.
My partner Phill is completely supportive and encouraging of my book addiction. He is also a book collector but his addiction are books by JRR Tolkien – known of course for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit tales.
They say addicts shouldn’t stay together because of the co-dependency but we are happy in all our book collectors paradise. Yes we spend quite a bit of money on old and new books but we love having little libraries throughout our home.
Thrill Of The Chase
Most book collectors will admit they love the thrill of the chase. It’s the lure of a second hand book shop, the wonders that can be found on ebay and the sheer volume of new books on Amazon. At the beginning of my book collecting journey I found books almost every month. Now because my collection is so vast, I will only find books I don’t have every now and then. Alot of the time I forget what books I have and end up with multiples of the same ones but that’s ok because now Rose can have them in her room!
Why I Can’t Stop
It’s been six weeks since my last book fix. Thanks to a tip-off from a fellow book-loving friend I discovered there was a 4oth anniversary edition of ‘Dogger’ and I wasted no time purchasing said book on Amazon. Dogger is about a little boy who looses his beloved toy dog and the search that ensues . It’s the kind of simple story that resonates with so many little ones. I’m going to inscribe the book and give it to Rose on her 1st birthday. I really hope she grows to love the story and the illustrations as much as I do.
I believe you are born with the book collecting gene and it’s not really possible to fight against it. You just have to give into it and accept that you love books more than the average person. I get such joy from my collection and when the opportunity arises to add to my collection, I just can’t say no. That’s not so bad, is it?