A sectional view of the New York Public Library. Image courtesy New York Public Library.

C: I’m Claire, I’m an avid reader, aspiring writer, and I collect a lot of books filling the entire house so there are only narrow crevices to squeeze through; windows blocked with books so no natural light comes in; floors buckling under the weight of paperback stacks
C: My husband Vance and I have been married for 42 wonderful, crowded years Vance’s tie hung on the sides of a bookcase; Claire’s shirt flung over a mound of books
V: My name is Vance, I’m a teacher and a book lover from way Back Mystics and Messiahs, Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers, Paganism Book
C: In this house, we have two very familiar phrases—“I love you” and “timbeeeeeer!” pile of books collapsing
C: We have books that go to nine feet high in some places Hurricanes and Tornadoes, Jack and the Beanstalk
C: On the first floor it is wall-to-wall books, with only a narrow path through Versailles, American Castles, Great Houses of Washington DC; Claire turns sideways to move through a crack between ceiling-high stacks; she walks on top of books, steps uneven
V: We find that uh getting up and down the stairs can be a Challenge Gaudi, Allergy, William Morris, Corpse
C: Books are our passion; we are omnivores of every kind of Information Exam Cram MSCR Core, MSCR Network Plus, Installing GNU/Linux, Windows 98, Practical Windows, Presenting Java, Official BONG, Access 2000
V: I tested over 200 on an IQ test; I instruct in some 31 different subjects, ranging from mathematics, political science, geography, psychology—all at the college level Crocheting for Dummies, Screenwriting for Dummies, Organic Chemistry for Dummies, British Sign Language for Dummies, The Ancient Egyptians for Dummies, The British Monarchy for Dummies, Catholic High School Entrance Exams for Dummies, Composting for Dummies, Atheism for Dummies, Ballet for Dummies, Baby Massage for Dummies, Dad’s Guide to Baby’s First Year for Dummies, Bird Watching for Dummies, Dog Photography for Dummies, Second Life for Dummies, Solving Cryptic Crosswords for Dummies, Workplace Conflict Resolution Essentials for Dummies New Zealand and Australian Edition, Work/Life Balance for Dummies Australian Edition, Veterans Benefits for Dummies, Starting an iPhone Application Business for Dummies, Acid Reflux Diet for Dummies, Cooking with Chia for Dummies, Building Chicken Coops for Dummies, Wilderness Survival for Dummies, Being a Great Dad for Dummies, Body Language for Dummies, Boosting Self-Esteem for Dummies, Build a Better Life Box Set for Dummies
C: My kitchen is not a kitchen anymore Cooking Without a Kitchen
V: It takes a little bit of dexterity to get to the stove Operation Dragoon
C: So mainly we eat dusty Jell-O boxes and Mikes Hard Cranberry Lemonade nestled between massive stacks of remaindered hardcovers on top of the stove; inside the stove is The Bell Jar; the fridge doors are ajar, shelves filled with Harlequin romances
C: Next to my bed, I have a pile of books; in the middle of the night sometimes, it all comes crashing down on me Shakespeare’s Tragedies, Greek Classics, The Civil War, Gone with the Wind, Pearl Harbor, PERL, 1812: The War that Forged a Nation, Return of Depression Economics: The Year 2008, The Battle of Britain, The Battle Plan for Prayer, Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, Great Gambles, World History, German Verbs, Introduction to Statistics, Wicca for Beginners, Wicca for Men
V: I think the conclusion we reached is we have a uneven bookshelf with a paperback of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha precariously propping it up
V: Uh, we have reached the limit another bookshelf toppling; books falling everywhere
C: My biggest fear is my husband’s Relationships for Dummies
C: He has a heart condition and anything can happen at any time and the EMT’s absolutely could not get him out of the Canadian Rockies Access Guide
C: The City patrol to make sure everybody has a parking pass, and they inferred from the stuff in our car that the house looked like that UFO CRASH, Tom Cruise Answer Book, Grays Anatomy, BIG BOOK OF PIZZA
C: They left a note on the door with intent to inspect the premises Nazi Germany
C: I don’t want to think about what would happen if the city came into the Battle of Waterloo
C: Vance and I met in college; we talked books, we were birds of a feather Sisson’s Synonyms
V: There was a happy collision of mutual interests Scottish Architecture, Copspeak, Encyclopedia of Psychological Problems, Gun Dog Breeds, Alternative Medications, Embracing the Moon
C: Vance and I knew each other 18 days before we got married Turning Life into Fiction
V: A few weeks after getting married, they had a book sale at the university; I came home with two shopping bags of books and my bride’s eyes got big The Dollar Crisis
C: When we moved into this house in 1977, we took out some of the appliances, and we just started moving books in bookcases where the washer and dryer would be; books stacked around and on top of the toilet
V: We moved in perhaps with 30,000 books; now it could be 500,000 Unsolved Disappearances in the Great Smoky Mountains
C: We are soulmates; we don’t have to be physical on a bed together to connect two single mattresses in separate rooms, each surrounded by walls of books
V: I don’t see how books can be a danger to anybody Berlin Wall, Bush Agenda, Gettysburg Jury, Elections, America Eats
V: Books don’t bite The Science of Jurassic Park and The Lost World, Dracula
C: We couldn’t see the books through the reading DaVinci Code
V: When you finally reach the point where you are tripping over your possessions, are you in possession of these possessions, or are they in possession of you? The Way Things Work Volume II
C: This is a financial problem for us, it is not psychological Freakanomics
V: We’re guilty of thinking that the answers in life come from books, and they decidedly do not American Poetry 1988-1997, Redneck Words of Wisdom, Hamlet

Kate Durbin is the author of The Ravenous Audience and E! Entertainment.
Explore Related Content