But I wouldn't be without it. And nor should anyone with an interest in crime fiction, its history and in particular its writers. Books to Die For is billed as a "unique, must have anthology for enthusiasts of the mystery genre" by publisher Hodder & Stoughton, and for once the blurb is a faithful reflection of what's in the tin.
Its Irish editors - John Connolly, author of the Charlie Parker series, and Declan Burke, author of the The Big O - have worked their charms on more than 120 modern authors who have in turn selected more than 120 great, even landmark, mystery novels and written essays on each.
The essays (those I've read, so far) are part review and part biography of the author and her work and time, but they also offer some insight into the essayist. Individually they are an invitation to explore dozens of new writers and novels - even the most dedicated crime fiction fan should find something new. Collectively, however, they represent a comprehensive and essential living history of the genre. I've seen it described elsewhere as a "celebration" of the genre, and it is that too.
That history flows from five 19th century novels, including Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Poe - his 1840s Dupin short stories, introduced by J Wallis Martin, are the earliest works chronicled. While the anthology is somewhat back-end loaded, amost a quarter of the novels covered were published in the 1990s, it is not unbalanced. There are more novels from both the 1930s and the 1940s than the 2000s.
It's inevitable with anthologies of this kind that readers will scour the list looking for the obvious absentees. Burke and Connolly address this in their Introduction, noting that this is neither a "potentially exhausting litany of titles", nor a "pollsters' assembly of novels, compiled with calculators and spreadsheet".
So there are notable omissions - the recent surge in popularity in Nordic fiction is not reflected, for example - and the list is somewhat monolinguistic. But as Burke and Connolly point out, "there are fewer than might be expected".
What the editors asked their novelists for "passionate advocacy" for "one novel, just one, that they would place in the canon". And this they get in spades. Every essay I've read so far makes such an unanswerable case for the novel in question that my "to read list" has swelled by about 20 books already - and that includes a resolve to read a number of novels for a second time. These include Lawrence Block's A Dance at the Slaughterhouse ("the conclusion is possibly the most satisfying I have read, in any book, ever" - Alison Galyin) and Suzanne Berne's A Crime in the Neighbourhood, selected by Thomas H Cook.
And of course there's an absolute wealth of new recommendations. Readers will naturally gravitate first to their favourite authors, and I'm no exception. So Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg, chosen by George Pelecanos is now high on my wish list with Dennis Lehane's selection, The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley.
This really is a terrific addition to my collection. It is full of fascinating reading and it will keep me in new books and authors for months and maybe years. The sheer breadth and depth of books included in the genre show just how wonderfully varied crime and mystery fiction is, and why it keeps so many of us enthralled, entertained and informed.
And many have eviscerated the supposed wall between literary and crime fiction, that "tired, lazy distinction", as Tana French describes it in her homage to Donna Tartt's The Secret HIstory. Indeed.
Bravo to Burke and Connolly for putting together such a terrific anthology.