Benjamin Disraeli’s father, Isaac D’Israeli, was apparently a bookworm of monomaniac dedication. According to his son:
He was himself a complete literary character, a man who really passed his life in his library. Even marriage produced no change in these habits; he rose to enter the chamber where he lived alone with his books, and at night his lamp was ever lit within the same walls. Nothing, indeed, was more remarkable than the isolation of this prolonged existence;
One of his projects was Curiosities of Literature, an immense notebook full of whatever had struck him over a lifetime of reading.
He seems to have had a particular fondness for anecdotes of people more book-obsessed than himself. For example Anthony Magliabechi, the extreme case of the reader-hoarder. This is the kind of person who in other circumstances would open a secondhand bookshop, sell almost nothing, but sit all day surrounded by piles of books.
the passage below stairs was full of books, and the staircase from the top to the bottom was lined with them. When you reached the second story, you saw with astonishment three rooms, similar to those below, equally full, so crowded, that two good beds in these chambers were also crammed with books.
This apparent confusion did not, however, hinder Magliabechi from immediately finding the books he wanted. He knew them all so well, that even to the least of them it was suffiicient to see its outside, to say what it was; and indeed he read them day and night, and never lost sight of any. He ate on his books, he slept on his books, and quitted them as rarely as possible… Nothing could be more simple than his mode of life; a few eggs, a little bread, and some water, were his ordinary food.
[Via Bruce Sterling’s latest State of the World discussion thread.]