There are stacks of books on the floor of the living room. A seven foot bookcase is under construction in the garage. We have at least fifty new acquisitions to enter into LibraryThing. Three more books arrived by mail just a couple weeks ago.
It is perhaps time to admit that the Darwins are in the grips of a rather serious library-building instinct.
The phrase "library-building" is, I think, key. Because although we've had the chance to read more recently than in the preceding few years, it's still the case that we frequently acquire books that there's little chance we'll be able to read soon.
There are many kinds of book buyers out there. There are great readers and book collectors and fans and innumerable other types that I haven't come up with a good label for. But some people are library builders.
We organize our books into sections: Literature, Classics, Fiction (mainly paperbacks which we're not proud enough of the form or content of to promote to living room display), History, Drama, Theology, Philosophy, Science/Mathematics, Childrens' Literature, School Books, Picture Books. An even greater sign of the malady, every so often one of us will find ourselves staring at a section and thinking, "This section feels a little lopsided, what other books do we need to round things out?" Too much bio and not enough physics and astronomy in the science section? Not enough Greek stuff in Classics? A couple of key authors missing from Children's Literature?
There's a certain utility to all this, perhaps, in that since we intend to homeschool our children all the way through high school (unless they very much object) it's useful to have lots of good things to read around. But we honestly have a pretty good public library within ten minutes of our house. There are plenty of things we could pick up there when we want them. And some of the books we feel compelled to get we may not pick up for five years or more.
Perhaps I read too much about medieval scriptoriums at a pivotal age. Perhaps in regards to books I'm simply too much of a materialist. Whatever the reason, we both find ourselves thinking not just of having books that we want to read, but of maintaining a library, an institution of sorts. And there are some books we simply want to read for fun, which can be checked out from the library or picked up in cheap paperbacks. But there are other books which must be had because... Well, we're really not sure why. But for some reason "the library" seems like an essential thing to maintain.