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If you’ve ever been a collector, you know that feeling. The “my precious” feeling you get when you see that delectable object you’ve been waiting for all your life? Except that it’s one in a series of objects. All of which were destined exclusively for you. You’ve even been known to justify a purchase by claiming that it is a “birthday present.” No matter that your birthday is six months away.

I’ve long wondered what it is that makes us collectors. Sublimation of sexual longings? Being bottle-fed as infants? Or just a Pavlovian susceptibility to the hit of pleasure that comes when the longed-for precious is finally in our hands?

Closeted with my collection, I’m as happy as Gollum sitting on a pile of Rings. I don’t play favorites. Each and every volume is for me The One Book, when I lay eyes on it. Each is the object of my full and adoring attention. Luckily my little books don’t exert the baleful influence of the Rings. Though come to think of it, there is that odd one with ancient runes that I unearthed in a dusty old bookshop, whose gnarled proprietor asked me a riddle or two…

Precious old tomes, each about three inches tall.

And Linnet in an antiquarian bookstore: