Like everything else, people can become so addicted to collecting and hoarding books that it stilts their lives. It is an actual obsessive-compulsive disorder. If book addiction is wrong, though, who wants to be right?

I have moved more than seven times post-college. My cousin’s husband helped me move from Connecticut to Rhode Island when I got my first big girl job. Kind of him. As he carried one half-ton box after another up two flights of stairs, he said, “If I visit you, you had better be reading.”

First date with the future mister was in a bookstore. He spoke Tolkienese. Though I had read The Hobbit in high school, I had shied away from the other Tolkien books because, well, the cartoon of The Hobbit frightened me. The short sordid story is that Hobbits reminded me of a creepy guy from The Warriors who also reminded me of Geddy Lee. Yes, I avoided the band Rush for a long time, too. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m part Irish, and we’re a superstitious people.

I bought The Lord of the Rings on that first date in order to communicate with my fella, and he and I returned to the scene of that crime over and over again. We hit many a bookstore together, and it was never a question of “if” we’d buy books but “what” books we’d buy. It did not matter if we had ten other books we were already reading piled next to our respective beds, we had to have more.

The best job of my life before I moved to New Orleans was the one I acquired while my mister was figuring out if he could fashion a book into a ring for my finger. RJ Julia Booksellers of Madison, CT, hired me to play with the books. Aversion therapy did not work there. I had my paychecks spent weeks in advance. I could find some reason I needed every book I touched.

Years, books bought, sold, given, and many bookshelves later, I am working at a bookstore again. Maple Street is double the trouble because we have a used and a new store side by side. I began in the new store, but with some employee changes, I started working primarily in the used store. Worse for me. Much  worse. A hardcover edition of this for only $4.95? Sold. I totally forgot I wanted to read that. Sold. Wow! I have one of these, but this is such a unique edition. Sold.

Customers confide to me daily, like I’m their priest in the confessional of the books, they have a problem with wanting, needing books, that they can’t even look around because it will be bad for all involved. Then, they start to twitch a little and back out of the store slowly, but not before their eyes catch that volume of Lear poetry or that great collection of Poe stories. Back at the counter, they can only dole out money and avoid my gaze.

I am an addict. An enabler. A dealer.

I am unapologetic and unremorseful.

I will feed your addiction at Maple Street.

Veronica K. Brooks-Sigler

Bookseller

Maple Street Book Shops, NOLA

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