Karl Lagerfeld is mad about books, says Scott Athorne in the London Times. “It is a disease I won’t recover from,” says the fashion legend. “They are the tragedy of my life.” Nearly all the rooms of Lagerfeld’s homes in Paris, Monaco, and New York are filled with his personal collection of 300,000 volumes. “I have only books, I have no art, because there is no space for anything else.” He especially enjoys history and biography. “I’m interested in other lives, especially lives I haven’t known.” Lagerfeld is such a bibliomaniac that he owns a bookshop himself, as well as an imprint of the German publishing house Steidl, which has published all 35 of his photography books.
It all began 65 years ago when he was out walking with his uncle and failed to recognize the name of a minor German poet on a street sign. “I was 10 and he slapped me in the face. When we returned to the house, my uncle shouted at my mother, ‘Your son is as shallow and as superficial as you!’ I will never forget that.” Since then, Lagerfeld has been reading feverishly to overcome the gaps in his knowledge.  “I want to learn about everything. I want to know everything.” But he adds, “I’m not an intellectual, and I don’t like their company. I’m the most superficial man on earth.”