Daniel Krieger has a wonderful piece at narrative.ly about Madeline Kripke, who has 20,000 books in her West Village apartment, most of them dictionaries:
Kripke, who is sixty-nine, grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, the daughter of a Conservative rabbi. As a child, she was solitary, and often retreated into her room where she would lose herself in books rather than play with her brother, who was always absorbed in thought (and later became a philosopher).
“I read and read and read and read and read,” she says. In fifth grade, her parents gave her a Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and that changed everything. “It unlocked the world for me because I could read at any vocabulary level I wanted,” she says, and went on to negotiate more sophisticated titles, like Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin, Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception and The Frogs by Aristophanes. She was diligent about learning words, and would enter all the new ones she came across daily in a notebook. Then she would review them, trying to commit them to memory.
The story of how she got into collecting (after years of copyediting and proofreading), and the amazing things she owns (she has a dozen “unrecorded” books, meaning there aren’t any other known copies), make this a fascinating read. Too bad there’s a typo at the very end (presumably it wasn’t Krieger who spelled jactitate “jacktitate”).