New Word Needed: Fear of Running Out of Books

by Taffy Cannon

For a recent overnight visit to a town three hours from my home, I packed a history book I’m using for background reference, a mystery by a writer I haven’t yet read, and three re-issued paperbacks of a series I enjoyed 45 years ago. I also brought two current magazines and the L.A. Times, which I hadn’t read because I was busy making book choices. I did not bring my Kindle, which made me a little nervous.

I suffer from a phobia I was surprised to learn has no name: the fear of running out of books. Its corollary is fear of not having enough to read.

Plenty of other phobias have names. There are at least four different names for fear of cats. Scriptophobia is fear of writing in public. Koumpounophobia is fear of buttons. Halitophobia is fear of bad breath. Ranidaphobia is fear of frogs. Melissophobia is fear of bees. Pogonophobia is fear of beards. Syngenesophobia is fear of relatives. Nomophobia is fear of being out of mobile phone contact. Arachibutyrophobia is fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. Phobophobia is fear of fear itself.

And let’s not forget that perennial favorite: coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.

So why am I left out?

Nomenclature is tricky when you work with a negative: fear of not having something. Obviously bibliophobia is not the problem, and anti-bibliophobia lacks pizazz.

I know I’m not alone. My friends round the country with bulging, double-tiered bookshelves and boxed faves in the basement and Kindles loaded with freeby classics just in case are fellow … fellow what? Not sufferers, surely, because we’re plenty happy except when the shelves need to be thinned.

We have TBR piles toppling in corners, and stacks of magazines, and current bestsellers on reserve at the library, and paperback editions of favorites for travel. For an intermittent, non-writing job in Texas at a home full of wonderful books, I always bring the Kindle, half a dozen current titles and my carryon paperback of Lonesome Dove, in case we get stuck on the tarmac somewhere.

I confess that I’ve only turned to Lonesome Dove once in all its travels, but I felt mighty smug that I had it when I needed it. Okay, maybe “needed” should be in quotes.

We who fear not having enough books lack a name, a shared identity that might lead to a secret nod or wink or handshake. Perhaps you the reader can help with this one.

Because while we may be individually adrift at the moment together we are mighty enough to build a fortress out of our aggregated libraries. That fortress can have no moat, of course, because we also share a fear of damaging the books we don’t want to run out of.

I don’t want to be cured. I’m sure I can stop any time I want to. I’d just like a name.

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