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All stories relating to Matt Galloway

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Bibliomania and the not-so-light side of book hoarding

Last week, the National Post‘s Mark Medley wrote a piece about his ever-expanding book collection and the difficulty he has lightening his load by even a single volume. “I am a book hoarder,” he says. “Help me, please.”

The same day the article was published, CBC Radio’s Metro Morning picked up the story and host Matt Galloway spent the rest of the week discussing the impulse on air, and over Twitter and Facebook. He even brought in Shelagh Rogers to talk about her own book-collecting habits. By the end of the weekend, the term “book hoarder” came up in national media a lot.

The piece caught the eye of one Jessie Sholl, author of Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding. In her view, the conversation around book hoarding overlooked an important fact: hoarding is more than a mild eccentricity, it’s an illness. (To be fair, Rogers avoided the word “hoarder” throughout her interview with Metro Morning, opting instead to call herself a “book lover.”) Sholl responded to Medley’s article on her blog at Psychology Today.

In her post, “You Are Not a Book Hoarder,” she attempts to set the record straight on bibliomania:

Just because you have a lot of books, that doesn’t mean you’re a bibliomaniac. Can you walk through the room in which your books are stored? Have you depleted any of your life savings on these books? Do you hide when the doorbell rings or not allow a plumber into your home when your sink is clogged?

[C]arelessly tossing the label of hoarder around, as the National Post essay does, is disrespectful to hoarders and those affected by the disorder…. [N]o one’s arguing that the term hoarding is off limits. Or that you can’t joke about hoarding, ever…. Maybe the line between harmless humor and disrespectful minimization of a mental illness is similar to what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography — you know it when you see it. Or maybe it’s simply keeping in mind that common expression: Language matters.

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Event photos: polar bear dip, Fetherling’s 60th, and Bittman’s signing

A number of recent events – including a mid-winter swim and a swanky birthday bash – brought out the literary luminaries. Quillblog’s army of roving citizen photojournalists were on hand to capture the various goings on.

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The first annual Port Credit Polar Bear plunge to commemorate Robbie Burns Day was held this past Saturday, and a number of Canadian literary and media figures took part. Above, broadcaster Shelagh Rogers emerges from the frigid drink, while Paul Quarrington charges in.

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Margaret Atwood and Ken McGoogan – more appropriately dressed for the weather – were in attendance to lend support.
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McGoogan (left) and author Graeme Gibson pass out drams to the swimmers.

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Canadian author George Fetherling celebrated his 60th birthday with a dinner at Massey College on Jan. 17. Margaret Atwood was on hand (minus the gloves and parka) to pay tribute to Fetherling.

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Food writer Mark Bittman launched his new book, Food Matters, at Hart House on Jan. 22. Bittman spoke with CBC radio’s Matt Galloway to a crowd of more than 300. Above, Bittman, flanked by Simon & Schuster publicist Melissa Ong, signs copies of his book.

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A subdued Bittman waits at the signing table.

UPDATE: This post contains material that has been corrected. The title of Mark Bittman’s new book was incorrect in the original post. Quillblog apologizes for the error.

[Photos courtesy of Ken McGoogan (polar bear dip), George Fetherling, and Loretta Eldridge (Bittman launch).]

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Book Pictures

Do you have great photos from a recent book event in Canada that you'd like to share with us? Submit them to the Quill & Quire Flickr pool and they'll show up here.

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

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Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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