Too Many Books (flash fiction)

Here’s a piece of humorous flash fiction about another person who takes the reading life too far. It’s a tale of obsession and books – many, many books. It’s about 770 words and has an estimated reading time of about 3 minutes. Let me know what you think!

It all started on Amazon Prime Day.

Avery and Victoria had just moved into their new apartment, a lovely one-bedroom in a quiet part of the city. Avery had been concerned there wasn’t enough room for his books, so they rented a storage shed.

Despite having no more room for books, Avery went on a buying spree on Prime Day. He bought fifteen paperbacks, five hardcovers, and three graphic novels. The Amazon shipments came in relentless waves.

“Avery!” Victoria yelled as the Prime truck pulled up again one day. “Where are we going to put all these books? We have no space!”

He frowned, ignored her, putting his nose back into a book.

“I’m talking to you!” she yelled. “You already have a gazillion books on your Kindle. And we’re literally drowning in books in this apartment.”

Indeed, books were everywhere. Big shelves of books filled the living room and bedroom. There were even shelves in the kitchen, smaller ones, and a little shelf in the bathroom. That’s not even counting the random paperbacks stacked on the dining room table and everywhere else.

“Are you going to say anything?” Victoria impatiently asked him.

“It’s fine. We have space. I’ll just put them in the storage shed.”

“There’s no space in the shed! It’s full!”

“We’ll get another shed.”

She threw her hands in the air. “We can’t be spending this much money on books. Get a library card! This is an addiction, Avery.”

“I’m not addicted. I just like books. I mean, it could be way worse. I could be on the streets doing heroin or something.”

Victoria walked away and the argument ended, for now. Avery, like usual, kept his nose in the book the rest of that Saturday. He’d been neglecting spending time with her because of his insatiable reading habit.

Finally, one day Victoria had enough. She packed her bags and stayed with her parents, telling him he needed to shape up. He either had to choose her or his beloved books. To Victoria’s horror, he seemed nonchalant about the whole thing, and he chose the books.

As she walked out to her car, an Amazon Prime truck rolled up. The deliveryman carried several boxes of what appeared to be books to the apartment door. She sighed and left, never to return.

Now, with Victoria gone, Avery had much more time to read. Once she moved all her stuff out, he replaced it with more shelves of books. Pretty soon, virtually every square inch of the apartment was filled with books.

He began running out of space, though. He unplugged the refrigerator and put books in there. Then he unloaded the pantry and put books in there, too. Every once in a while, a stack of books would tumble over and make a loud crashing noise. The landlord got complaints, and he came to check on him.

“Geez,” the landlord said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“It’s glorious, isn’t it?” Avery said. He hadn’t shaved in several weeks or showered. All he did was read and order books.

The weeks and months flew by. Avery tore through novels, magazines, Christian devotionals; he even read War and Peace. He read everything he could get his hands on, and he continued to order more books.

His neighbors began to worry. A terrible smell emanated from his apartment, and they hardly saw him anymore unless he was coming down to pick up his book shipments. Eventually, he didn’t even do that.

His book shipments stopped coming, and that’s when they knew something was wrong. The landlord forced his way into the apartment one afternoon, and he was horrified at what he saw. Books had quite literally taken over every inch of space in the small apartment. He squeezed his way through the stacks and waded through paperbacks that were up to his knees.

The landlord couldn’t find Avery at first, and he called his name out. Then he saw a barefoot protruding from the sea of books in the bedroom. He removed the books like he was digging Avery from building rubble, and he discovered the young man was dead.

Later on, police determined a stack of books came crashing down on Avery, mortally wounding him. He was literally killed by his book obsession.

His distraught mother looked for someone to blame, and she eventually started a group called Mothers Against Obsessive Readers (MAOR). She toured libraries across the country, warning kids that, while reading was a great thing, remember that it can kill you if you take it too far.

The End

(Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash)

4 responses to “Too Many Books (flash fiction)”

  1. Yikes! What a way to go. I love books, but not to *that* level. Reminds me of the Collyer brothers in New York, who took hoarding to a dangerous level.

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