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National Post

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'I don’t love women writers enough to teach them': Giller-nominated author and University of Toronto teacher on why he only teaches books by men
David Gilmour has never been afraid to speak his mind. In a 2011 interview with the National Post, he admitted wanting to “beat the living s–t” out of a critic who’d given him a bad review and spoke at length about how much he hated socializing with fellow Canadian authors, whom he labelled “insecure.” His words have finally come back to haunt him. On Wednesday, Hazlitt, an online magazine published by Random House of Canada, posted a story by Emily M. Keeler — who, full disclosure, writes reviews for the Post — about the 63-year-old Gilmour, who spent over a decade working for the CBC as a film critic and arts reporter. In the article, about his bookshelves, Gilmour said, among other things, that “I’m not interested in teaching books by women” and “I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys.” Gilmour, whose latest novel, Extraordinary, was recently longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, tried to explain himself to Books Editor Mark Medley. (Photo: Della Rollins for National Post)

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'I don’t love women writers enough to teach them': Giller-nominated author and University of Toronto teacher on why he only teaches books by men

David Gilmour has never been afraid to speak his mind. In a 2011 interview with the National Post, he admitted wanting to “beat the living s–t” out of a critic who’d given him a bad review and spoke at length about how much he hated socializing with fellow Canadian authors, whom he labelled “insecure.” His words have finally come back to haunt him. On Wednesday, Hazlitt, an online magazine published by Random House of Canada, posted a story by Emily M. Keeler — who, full disclosure, writes reviews for the Post — about the 63-year-old Gilmour, who spent over a decade working for the CBC as a film critic and arts reporter. In the article, about his bookshelves, Gilmour said, among other things, that “I’m not interested in teaching books by women” and “I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys.” Gilmour, whose latest novel, Extraordinary, was recently longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, tried to explain himself to Books Editor Mark Medley. (Photo: Della Rollins for National Post)

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Not sure what to read this summer? Books editor Mark Medley joined some of Canada’s top authors to put together the only reading list you’ll need as the temperature rises. Find it here: natpo.st/10Ejwpl

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Not sure what to read this summer? Books editor Mark Medley joined some of Canada’s top authors to put together the only reading list you’ll need as the temperature rises. Find it here: natpo.st/10Ejwpl

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The literary life of R.A. Dickey
When already-legendary Blue Jays pitcher Dickey was in Grade 7, a teacher submitted a poem of his to a statewide contest, which he ended up winning. At the time he was struggling with the ramifications of abuse, and the success buoyed him: “From then on, I knew that I wanted to write. Unpacking literature and writing for me came very natural.” READ MORE: natpo.st/13AS6BU

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The literary life of R.A. Dickey

When already-legendary Blue Jays pitcher Dickey was in Grade 7, a teacher submitted a poem of his to a statewide contest, which he ended up winning. At the time he was struggling with the ramifications of abuse, and the success buoyed him: “From then on, I knew that I wanted to write. Unpacking literature and writing for me came very natural.” READ MORE: natpo.st/13AS6BU

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Prose in the nude: Canadian authors get naked for Bare It For Books calendarIt’s often said that authors bare their souls on the page. Now, some of Canada’s most successful writers are baring a little bit more for charity.Bare It For Books is the brainchild of Allegra Young, a classical music producer, and Amanda Leduc, an author who first proposed a calendar featuring Canadian authors in the buff on Twitter this past summer.“It’s a risky venture,” Leduc says. “A naked calendar isn’t something that you see everyday.” (Shelagh Howard)

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Prose in the nude: Canadian authors get naked for Bare It For Books calendar
It’s often said that authors bare their souls on the page. Now, some of Canada’s most successful writers are baring a little bit more for charity.

Bare It For Books is the brainchild of Allegra Young, a classical music producer, and Amanda Leduc, an author who first proposed a calendar featuring Canadian authors in the buff on Twitter this past summer.

“It’s a risky venture,” Leduc says. “A naked calendar isn’t something that you see everyday.” (Shelagh Howard)

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Grimm’s Fairy Tales turn 200 — and they’re just as creepy today as they were in 1812Grimm’s Fairy Tales — the fairly disturbing and ever-iconic “Children’s and Household” stories about cannibals, death’s messengers and a girl without hands — first rolled off the presses in Germany 200 years ago. And Germany is excited.Like other Grimm tales, the version of Riding Hood best known to us isn’t the one that the Brothers Grimm originally penned. The brothers’ original tales were fables, yes, but they were meant to teach lessons and morals and often employed scare tactics to do so. For instance, in the Grimms’ original “Little Red Riding Hood” — also called “Red Cap” — the Big Bad Wolf eats both Riding Hood and her grandmother, and is cut open by a passing lumberjack. Some cleaned-up versions have the Wolf instead hiding Riding Hood and her grandmother in the closet.

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Grimm’s Fairy Tales turn 200 — and they’re just as creepy today as they were in 1812
Grimm’s Fairy Tales — the fairly disturbing and ever-iconic “Children’s and Household” stories about cannibals, death’s messengers and a girl without hands — first rolled off the presses in Germany 200 years ago. And Germany is excited.

Like other Grimm tales, the version of Riding Hood best known to us isn’t the one that the Brothers Grimm originally penned. The brothers’ original tales were fables, yes, but they were meant to teach lessons and morals and often employed scare tactics to do so. For instance, in the Grimms’ original “Little Red Riding Hood” — also called “Red Cap” — the Big Bad Wolf eats both Riding Hood and her grandmother, and is cut open by a passing lumberjack. Some cleaned-up versions have the Wolf instead hiding Riding Hood and her grandmother in the closet.

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How I put my library on a dietI don’t like getting rid of books. I’ve previously written about my literary hoarding tendencies; I own hundreds of books I’ve never opened, let alone read, not to mention the stacks in my cubicle I intend to bring home one day. The idea of divesting myself of a small, yet substantial, part of my collection was daunting.There is an unspoken agreement between reader and author when a new book is brought into the home: This book will (eventually) be read. Getting rid of a book — especially if it remains unread — represents failure for both book and reader. It means the book was never able to escape the shelf and make it into the reader’s hands. It represents unrealized potential, unfulfilled hope, an unkept promise.

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How I put my library on a diet
I don’t like getting rid of books. I’ve previously written about my literary hoarding tendencies; I own hundreds of books I’ve never opened, let alone read, not to mention the stacks in my cubicle I intend to bring home one day. The idea of divesting myself of a small, yet substantial, part of my collection was daunting.

There is an unspoken agreement between reader and author when a new book is brought into the home: This book will (eventually) be read. Getting rid of a book — especially if it remains unread — represents failure for both book and reader. It means the book was never able to escape the shelf and make it into the reader’s hands. It represents unrealized potential, unfulfilled hope, an unkept promise.

Tagged with:  #books  #reading  #literature
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J.K. Rowling is finally leaving Hogwarts behind — and for decidedly  more adult fare, too. Little, Brown Book Group and Little, Brown and  Company announced Thursday that Rowling, author of the mega-successful Harry Potter series, is set to publish her first novel for adults.
“Although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my  other publishers around the world,” Rowling said in a statement. “The  freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry’s success has  brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression  to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home  in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in  this new phase of my writing life.”

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J.K. Rowling is finally leaving Hogwarts behind — and for decidedly more adult fare, too. Little, Brown Book Group and Little, Brown and Company announced Thursday that Rowling, author of the mega-successful Harry Potter series, is set to publish her first novel for adults.

“Although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my other publishers around the world,” Rowling said in a statement. “The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry’s success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in this new phase of my writing life.”

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A Publisher’s Year: A quest for SurvivalBy now, it’s become almost clichéd to point out the challenges facing publishers, not only in Canada but around the world. The press release announcing the sale of M&S cited “the challenges facing publishers, including a difficult economy and digital-driven transitions facing the industry.”But what does it mean to be a publishing house in this day and age? Why are publishers even necessary when a book can be produced independently — a file uploaded to Amazon and downloaded on a Kindle, no middleman required? Will McClelland & Stewart be the sole Canadian publisher to succumb to industry pressures this year, or were they simply the first domino to fall? How will technology continue to influence the future of books? Who are these people who still believe in a future with books?Over the next 12 months, the National Post will chronicle the ups-and-downs, ins-and-outs, and day-to-day dealings of House of Anansi Press and its sister publisher, Groundwood Books — the stories behind a company devoted to storytellers — offering an in-depth look at what goes on inside a Canadian publishing house, and what it takes for a 20th-century model to survive in the 21st century.

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A Publisher’s Year: A quest for Survival
By now, it’s become almost clichéd to point out the challenges facing publishers, not only in Canada but around the world. The press release announcing the sale of M&S cited “the challenges facing publishers, including a difficult economy and digital-driven transitions facing the industry.”

But what does it mean to be a publishing house in this day and age? Why are publishers even necessary when a book can be produced independently — a file uploaded to Amazon and downloaded on a Kindle, no middleman required? Will McClelland & Stewart be the sole Canadian publisher to succumb to industry pressures this year, or were they simply the first domino to fall? How will technology continue to influence the future of books? Who are these people who still believe in a future with books?

Over the next 12 months, the National Post will chronicle the ups-and-downs, ins-and-outs, and day-to-day dealings of House of Anansi Press and its sister publisher, Groundwood Books — the stories behind a company devoted to storytellers — offering an in-depth look at what goes on inside a Canadian publishing house, and what it takes for a 20th-century model to survive in the 21st century.

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The Unread: You’ll never read every book; perhaps that should be cause for hope Recently, I began to read Moby-Dick for the first time. I was inspired to take Melville’s 1851 classic novel off the shelf, in part, by the fact that three related books had come across my desk in short succession: Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding; Matt Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures; and Nathaniel Philbrick’s Why Read Moby-Dick?Why read Moby-Dick, indeed? I’d lived 30 years without reading a page of Captain Ahab’s crazed pursuit of the great white and the world had not come off its axis. Still, I felt there was a gap the size of a sperm whale on my personal reading list. So, midway through my interview with Kish, I blurted out that I intended to finish Moby-Dick by the end of the year. I’d made a similar promise a few weeks earlier, while talking to Harbach, but had yet to even find the book on my shelves. This vow to Kish, who had just finished a project that saw him complete one painting for every page of the book, was like signing a contract with myself.“I have a very small library upstairs, and I often say one day maybe I’ll read all the books I have,” George Jonas told me during a recent interview. “We’re not scratching the surface of what’s worth reading, [even] in one language …”It’s true. There are scores of books I have not read, and it saddens me to think that I will never read most of them. I have not read War and Peace, nor Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment or pretty much any of the Russians. I have read Pride and Prejudice, but that’s it for Austen. I’ve read To The Lighthouse, but not Mrs. Dalloway, though I have seen The Hours (but I haven’t read that, either). I’ve read Dubliners (well, most of it) and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but haven’t even attempted Ulysses and was scared off by the first page of Finnegans Wake. The only Brontë sister I’ve read is Emily. I have all of Roth and Bellow and most of Updike to look forward to. I’m embarrassed to reveal how little Atwood and Munro I’ve consumed. If any of these books come up in conversation, I’ll offer a polite smile and quickly change the subject. (Illustration by Clayton Hanmer)

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The Unread: You’ll never read every book; perhaps that should be cause for hope
Recently, I began to read Moby-Dick for the first time. I was inspired to take Melville’s 1851 classic novel off the shelf, in part, by the fact that three related books had come across my desk in short succession: Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding; Matt Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures; and Nathaniel Philbrick’s Why Read Moby-Dick?

Why read Moby-Dick, indeed? I’d lived 30 years without reading a page of Captain Ahab’s crazed pursuit of the great white and the world had not come off its axis. Still, I felt there was a gap the size of a sperm whale on my personal reading list. So, midway through my interview with Kish, I blurted out that I intended to finish Moby-Dick by the end of the year. I’d made a similar promise a few weeks earlier, while talking to Harbach, but had yet to even find the book on my shelves. This vow to Kish, who had just finished a project that saw him complete one painting for every page of the book, was like signing a contract with myself.

“I have a very small library upstairs, and I often say one day maybe I’ll read all the books I have,” George Jonas told me during a recent interview. “We’re not scratching the surface of what’s worth reading, [even] in one language …”

It’s true. There are scores of books I have not read, and it saddens me to think that I will never read most of them. I have not read War and Peace, nor Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment or pretty much any of the Russians. I have read Pride and Prejudice, but that’s it for Austen. I’ve read To The Lighthouse, but not Mrs. Dalloway, though I have seen The Hours (but I haven’t read that, either). I’ve read Dubliners (well, most of it) and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but haven’t even attempted Ulysses and was scared off by the first page of Finnegans Wake. The only Brontë sister I’ve read is Emily. I have all of Roth and Bellow and most of Updike to look forward to. I’m embarrassed to reveal how little Atwood and Munro I’ve consumed. If any of these books come up in conversation, I’ll offer a polite smile and quickly change the subject. (Illustration by Clayton Hanmer)

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The Great Unread: What literary classics have you been avoiding?
I am currently reading Moby-Dick for the first time in my life. There are many, many great books I have never started reading, but Moby-Dick, to me, was the big one.
It made me think about all those books that remain unread, especially those deemed essential or canonical. Ulysses. Paradise Lost. War and Peace.  Books that, for one reason or another, we feel we should have read, or  wish we’d read, or have tried to read, or pretend to have read, but have  never finished or even started.
In advance of this Saturday’s books section, we want to hear from you. What are the books you feel you should read but haven’t? Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #unread!

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The Great Unread: What literary classics have you been avoiding?

I am currently reading Moby-Dick for the first time in my life. There are many, many great books I have never started reading, but Moby-Dick, to me, was the big one.

It made me think about all those books that remain unread, especially those deemed essential or canonical. Ulysses. Paradise Lost. War and Peace. Books that, for one reason or another, we feel we should have read, or wish we’d read, or have tried to read, or pretend to have read, but have never finished or even started.

In advance of this Saturday’s books section, we want to hear from you. What are the books you feel you should read but haven’t? Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #unread!

Tagged with:  #books  #reading  #literature  #novels
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Live Chat: Margaret Atwood discusses In Other WorldsJoin us at noon on Monday, November 28 for a one-hour live chat with  Margaret Atwood. The celebrated Canadian author will discuss her latest  collection of essays, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (Signal Books) and answer reader questions.
Writing in the National Post, Zsuzsi Gartner called the book  “a kind of encyclopedia: a quirky and admittedly personal primer on  ‘imaginative writing.’” Read Gartner’s review of the book here.
Click here to read more about the book.
And click here for details on how to win the complete Signal Books library and a chance to see Atwood live in Toronto. (Illustration by Steve Murray)

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Live Chat: Margaret Atwood discusses In Other Worlds
Join us at noon on Monday, November 28 for a one-hour live chat with Margaret Atwood. The celebrated Canadian author will discuss her latest collection of essays, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (Signal Books) and answer reader questions.

Writing in the National Post, Zsuzsi Gartner called the book “a kind of encyclopedia: a quirky and admittedly personal primer on ‘imaginative writing.’” Read Gartner’s review of the book here.

Click here to read more about the book.

And click here for details on how to win the complete Signal Books library and a chance to see Atwood live in Toronto. (Illustration by Steve Murray)

Fall Classic: Chad Harbach’s ‘The Art of Fielding’ hits all the right bases If the publishing industry had the equivalent to baseball’s end-of-season awards, the 35-year-old would be the odds-on favourite to win Rookie of the Year. His recently-released debut novel, The Art of Fielding, is the buzz book of the fall; a big, fat, heartfelt novel that not only explores the Great American Pastime, but tackles one of the Great American Novels, as well. (Illustration: Kagan McLeod)

Fall Classic: Chad Harbach’s ‘The Art of Fielding’ hits all the right bases
If the publishing industry had the equivalent to baseball’s end-of-season awards, the 35-year-old would be the odds-on favourite to win Rookie of the Year. His recently-released debut novel, The Art of Fielding, is the buzz book of the fall; a big, fat, heartfelt novel that not only explores the Great American Pastime, but tackles one of the Great American Novels, as well. (Illustration: Kagan McLeod)

Margaret Atwood: How a love of comics started a love of reading I learned to read early so I could read the comic strips because nobody else would take the time to read them out loud to me. The newspaper comics pages were called, then, the funny papers, although a lot of the strips were not funny but highly dramatic, like Terry and the Pirates, which featured a femme fatale called “The Dragon Lady” who used an amazingly long cigarette holder, or oddly surreal, like Little Orphan Annie — where were her eyes? The funny papers raised many questions in my young mind, some of which remain unanswered to this day. What exactly happened when Mandrake the Magician “gestured hypnotically”? Why did the Princess Snowflower character go around with a cauliflower on either ear?Where did we kids discover the knowledge of flying capes, superpowers, other planets, and the like? In part, through the primitive comic-strip superheroes of the times, the most popular of which were Flash Gordon, for space travel and robots; Superman and Captain Marvel, for extra strength, superpowers, and cape-based flying; and Batman, who was a mortal, with a non-functional cape — one that must have encumbered him somewhat as he clawed his way up the sides of buildings — but who nonetheless shared with Captain Marvel and Superman a weak or fatuous second identity that acted as a disguise. (Captain Marvel was Billy Batson, the crippled newsboy; Superman was Clark Kent, the bespectacled reporter; Batman was Bruce Wayne, the very rich playboy who lounged around in a smoking jacket.)Excerpt from In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination Copyright © 2011 by O.W. Toad Ltd. Published by Signal, imprint of McClelland & Stewart Ltd. (Photo: (Tyler Anderson/National Post)Related:Margaret Atwood: The stories we tellBook Review: In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood: How a love of comics started a love of reading
I learned to read early so I could read the comic strips because nobody else would take the time to read them out loud to me. The newspaper comics pages were called, then, the funny papers, although a lot of the strips were not funny but highly dramatic, like Terry and the Pirates, which featured a femme fatale called “The Dragon Lady” who used an amazingly long cigarette holder, or oddly surreal, like Little Orphan Annie — where were her eyes? The funny papers raised many questions in my young mind, some of which remain unanswered to this day. What exactly happened when Mandrake the Magician “gestured hypnotically”? Why did the Princess Snowflower character go around with a cauliflower on either ear?

Where did we kids discover the knowledge of flying capes, superpowers, other planets, and the like? In part, through the primitive comic-strip superheroes of the times, the most popular of which were Flash Gordon, for space travel and robots; Superman and Captain Marvel, for extra strength, superpowers, and cape-based flying; and Batman, who was a mortal, with a non-functional cape — one that must have encumbered him somewhat as he clawed his way up the sides of buildings — but who nonetheless shared with Captain Marvel and Superman a weak or fatuous second identity that acted as a disguise. (Captain Marvel was Billy Batson, the crippled newsboy; Superman was Clark Kent, the bespectacled reporter; Batman was Bruce Wayne, the very rich playboy who lounged around in a smoking jacket.)

Excerpt from In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination Copyright © 2011 by O.W. Toad Ltd. Published by Signal, imprint of McClelland & Stewart Ltd. (Photo: (Tyler Anderson/National Post)

Related:
Margaret Atwood: The stories we tell
Book Review: In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, by Margaret Atwood

Culture Club: The end of bookstores? Last month, Amazon reported that, for the first time ever, it now sells more e-books than paper books. This news came the same day that the owners of The Flying Dragon, a beloved Toronto independent bookstore that specializes in children’s literature, announced it was going out of business at the end of June — this coming just days after it won the 2011 Libris Award for “specialty bookseller of the year” from the Canadian Booksellers Association. In this installment of the Culture Club, National Post books editor Mark Medley asks: Whither the independent bookstore?

Culture Club: The end of bookstores?
Last month, Amazon reported that, for the first time ever, it now sells more e-books than paper books. This news came the same day that the owners of The Flying Dragon, a beloved Toronto independent bookstore that specializes in children’s literature, announced it was going out of business at the end of June — this coming just days after it won the 2011 Libris Award for “specialty bookseller of the year” from the Canadian Booksellers Association. In this installment of the Culture Club, National Post books editor Mark Medley asks: Whither the independent bookstore?

Confessions of a book hoarderThe first thing people usually say to me, upon entering my home for the first time, is that I own a lot of books. They are wrong, of course. I am rather ashamed at the size of my collection, considering I studied English literature in university and now pretty much write about books for a living. Between my girlfriend and I, there are probably between 1,000 and 1,250 books in our apartment, a number I consider rather paltry. Ideally, I’d like to double that number once we buy our first home — we currently rent — and I’m no longer faced with the prospect of hauling countless boxes of books between addresses.I’d last attempted to cull my collection about a year ago, when I carried about 50 books from my shelves to a spare room in the basement; I intended to get rid of them, but they, of course, went nowhere. This time, I hoped to rid myself of a quarter of my books. Nothing so ridiculous happened, of course, but the fact that I found about a half dozen copies of Joseph Boyden’s Through Black Spruce — which I still have not read — and four copies of Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel French Milk — ditto — was proof enough that my addiction had crossed the line into a dark, uncharted area, where intervention may be necessary. I thought it was also fitting that I found both of my e-readers gathering dust under piles of books.• Are you a book hoarder? Proud of it? Send your stories to mmedley@nationalpost.com

Confessions of a book hoarder
The first thing people usually say to me, upon entering my home for the first time, is that I own a lot of books. They are wrong, of course. I am rather ashamed at the size of my collection, considering I studied English literature in university and now pretty much write about books for a living. Between my girlfriend and I, there are probably between 1,000 and 1,250 books in our apartment, a number I consider rather paltry. Ideally, I’d like to double that number once we buy our first home — we currently rent — and I’m no longer faced with the prospect of hauling countless boxes of books between addresses.

I’d last attempted to cull my collection about a year ago, when I carried about 50 books from my shelves to a spare room in the basement; I intended to get rid of them, but they, of course, went nowhere. This time, I hoped to rid myself of a quarter of my books. Nothing so ridiculous happened, of course, but the fact that I found about a half dozen copies of Joseph Boyden’s Through Black Spruce — which I still have not read — and four copies of Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel French Milk — ditto — was proof enough that my addiction had crossed the line into a dark, uncharted area, where intervention may be necessary. I thought it was also fitting that I found both of my e-readers gathering dust under piles of books.

• Are you a book hoarder? Proud of it? Send your stories to mmedley@nationalpost.com