READING IS ONE OF MY MAIN HOBBIES, and has been for years.  I read fast (around a hundred pages an hour), I read frequently, I buy rather than borrow books, and I hate giving books away.

So it used to puzzle me that friends would talk about having 'thousands' of books, when I would know that despite all the above, I had only several hundred.  Coming to work in a bookshop, however, I began to get an appreciation of exactly how much space those 'thousands' of books would take up, and when I eventually got around to cataloguing my books, which occupy several rooms in the house, plus boxes in the attic, I found I had about 1,500.  That figure, after a lifetime of buying and reading, is now up to just under 2,000 - but I think it's stretching it a bit to call 2,000 books 'thousands'.

So my theory is that people habitually over-estimate how many books they own, because they fail to realise how few books it takes to fill a shelf.  So go on, give it a try - estimate how many books you have, then go around and count.  I'd be interested to hear if there is a significant difference between those figures. Email me at and when I've got a few responses I'll put some figures up, whether I'm right or wrong!