by Walker Martin

   Therapists do not like to hear us use the term “crazy,” but for the most part mental health professionals do often see such collecting activities as being a mental disorder. Maybe I should have titled the subject “Is Collecting a Mental Disorder?”

   But if I and some of the other collectors I know are insane, then we probably would use the term “crazy.” In fact I just came across an online article titled “11 Craziest Mental Disorders,” and “Bibliomania: The Collecting of Too Many Books”, was one of the 11 disorders.

   What brings all this up is that a long time collecting friend of mine recently called me and said that his wife and a therapist had just blindsided him with an intervention type meeting after dinner. He was still stunned at their treachery and quite upset.

   Their attitude was that his book and pulp collection was all junk, clutter, and a waste of money. In fact the therapist said that my friend should be under the care of a professional and under heavy medication due to depression. He evidently saw the collection as a sign of depression and even complained about the collector reading too much.

   Now this is funny because I don’t think my friend reads much at all. He’s in his sixties, still working and certainly does not spend his leisure time reading like I do. I read at least a couple hours or more each day and often my friend does not read at all during the day.

   I think this “reading too much” theme is the typical non-collecting spouse complaint. For the most part, and there are exceptions, I have found that many women resent it when their husbands or boyfriends read a book.

   Reading is a solitary activity and they feel left out or perhaps they feel that the husband is ignoring them or not paying attention to them. I have heard this complaint many times over the years from other readers, and even my wife gripes about me always “with my nose in a book.”

   But my friend certainly came to the right guy for a sympathetic ear. Those of you have been reading these memoirs so far might imagine the advice I gave him. I told him in my opinion, as a veteran reader and collector, his wife and the therapist are the ones with a mental disorder.

   Too many people just concentrate on their jobs and family. Hell, we all have jobs and family, but what makes life even more interesting is reading and collecting. Many of our friends and relatives go through life really not interested in much at all. At least reading and collecting shows that you have some interest and passion in some subject, other than the routine of working and family matters.

   The above is a true story and actually happened. By the way, I am not talking about myself, but such scenes have happened to me over the years. A serious reader/collector will not get sympathy from the non-reader/collector. And these people make up the majority of our friends and relatives.

   If you talk to me during Windy City or PulpFest, I’ll be glad to discuss this in more detail including the name of the collector. In fact, he will probably be in attendance.

   So as Shakespeare once said, if you are a collector, “get thee to a nuthouse.” Or come to think of it maybe he was talking about a nunnery.

Previously on Mystery*File:   Part Five — Remembering Mike Avallone.