Dragons hoard treasure in their lairs. Gold, mostly, but the occasional jeweled chalice or silver goblet can be found.
As you know, Smaug did it. And now all the cool mythological reptiles are doing it. Because. Tolkien.
This trope dates back to Beowulf which was written during the time period academics call, “A wicked frickin’ long time ago.” That’s the earliest literature I can think of where a dragon is hoarding gold.
“the…dragon…is driven to hunt out hoards underground, to guard heathen gold through age-long vigils…” – Beowulf
It’s a thing. It just is.
In the wonderful world of Harry Potter, dragons are used to guard treasures in Gringotts Bank. (But, let’s not go there. Evil lurks in the hearts of goblins.) In the Goblet of Fire, one of the trials in the Triwizard Tournament is to get an egg from a dragon. A golden egg.
I know what you’re thinking (or maybe not). Why gold? I mean, the dragon can’t walk into a cobbler’s shop and order shoes. Can’t buy a Van Gogh. The gold is useless. Precious…but not enjoyed. Just hoarded. So…why? And where am I going with this?
I hoard books.
I have a TBR (To Be Read) pile that is large enough to fill half my house. There are books I’ve been meaning to read and ones I’ve already read that I won’t part with. A dragon could sleep, curled up, quite comfortably on top that pile. I could have a party on there with room to spare. I could send invitations with an option to bring a guest and still we’d be able to move about freely.
If I live another 100 years, I will never get a chance to read them all.
I am just like the “dragon jealously guarding its gold hoard…” *
Things don’t usually go well for these dragons. I know this.
Yet…that’s me. The greedy book-loving word nerd who jealously guards its book hoard. Unlike a dragon’s gold, books are not useless, they are priceless. But what good are they if they’re sitting here, staring longingly at me from their shelves? I should be ashamed. That I don’t give my books away. That I breathe fire at anyone attempting to steal from my pile. That I hoard in the first place. Alas, I am not ashamed. And I continue to collect and hoard. *sigh* I’ve learned nothing.
Except that I am a dragon.
Am I a reader or a collector? Hmm… Do you hoard books or do you buy, read, give away, repeat, and keep your pile manageable? I’m wicked curious how many book-lovers out there actually have a manageable TBR pile.