Friday, 29 July 2011


The Swedes have a wonderful word, snasksjuk, it literally means candy sick.  It's that feeling you get when you really, really want sweet things; that only chocolate will make it go away.  I have a similar 'sickness'
, Boksjuk (Google translation: Book disease).

I have suffered from this condition from childhood, the constant sensation that I need more books. We have 7 large bookcases in our house, each of which shelves double rows of books.  As well as these there are piles  of books by the bed, in the dining room in the kitchen, on the floor by the window.  In fact there are books everywhere you look (unfortunately the whole household is boksjuk).  We assuage some of the symptoms by using the library...but the need to own the books is very strong.

I am going through a particularly bad bout of this sickness at the moment, and it doesn't matter how short of cash I am I can always find the money for more books.  I cannot go past a bookshop, new or second hand with out my feet turning and taking me through the door.  I can get lost for hours searching out new treasures that I have not read before.  I will read anything, I don't like to be caged by genre, my only request is that the characters make me care about them and the writing be of reasonable quality (I am not good with badly written prose).

I love bookshops, the small twisty, turny ones, with book rooms off  stair ways and other rooms.  I like the type of town that has bookshops in back alley ways, the sort that has tables of books outside, books piled up on the stairs and hand written labels for the shelves.  They are a precious and rare breed these days and we should use them and support them before they are lost.

One of my favourites is Scarthin books in Cromford, which is just this type of shop.  Lovely little rooms, full of wonders, big soft chairs, tables and the best book cafe in the world.  Keith's bookshop in Bakewell is less mazelike, but he stocks music (Jazz, world and Folk) he stocks interesting books from small obscure publishers as well as main stream best sellers.  The Bookcase in Lowdham is small, open but equally lovely; they also organise and run the Lowdham Book Festival every year.  There is Rhyme and Reason, in Sheffield, Maynard and Bradley in Leicester and many others.  I even like Waterstones, on the grounds that it is a physical bookshop, rather than an internet shop.

I love the smell of books, new and unopened ones, old and musty ones.  In the case of the former I love the idea that my eyes are the first to unlock the magic in the symbols within.  With the latter it is the idea of a book passing through many hands on it's journey to me.  Who held and loved it? What shelves did it sit on?  What games did it inspire or artwork did it engender?  I love quirky books, non fiction books, how to books, I love children's picture books, teenage fiction, good crime, classics, high literature, science fiction, humour.
Duck, Death and TulipThe Girl with Glass Feet
This often means I have a wish list beyond my means.
Ali Shaw, The girl with the glass feet
Arto Paasilinna: The year of the Hare
Wolf Elbruch: Duck, Death and the Tulip.
Gretel Parkers: Puddletown Tales (all of them)
James Mayhew: Boy
Marcus Sedgewick: All the ones I haven't read yet.
Jackie Morris: Tell me a Dragon
And any other as yet undiscovered treasures hidden on the shelf.

Do you have a similar sickness?  What is on your wish list?


  1. I can't afford to buy new books, (but I do make sure I get a good batch at Christmas & birthdays) however I am helpless when confronted with a good and cheap secondhand book stall, and have been known to stagger home with more books than I can safely carry. We have them stacked up behind doors, against the wall, up the stairs and eveywhere, so yes, I do know exactly what you mean, and if we had more space, I'd simply get more books! (I am very flattered to spot my books in your list, thank you!)

  2. I too have this major malady!! I am on holiday in Blakney and off to Holt bookshop, with my holiday money in my hand. I am so excited about my bag of new books, no idea what I want? Will post what I get later. :)

  3. Gretel, I know what you mean about second hand stalls, there are always things to unearth. I miss my days as a book rep (occasionally) as it meant I got to visit a country full of second hand stalls (on my lunch hour of course!!!).

    Ooh you lucky thing,Ruth, we visited there a couple of years ago and I fell in love with Holt.