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Tagshistory (29), fiction (26), journalism (19), politics (18), biography (17), short stories (8), murder (8), fantasy (8), police (8), corruption (7) — see all tags
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About my libraryAt college I was a double major, History and English. I had to buy 28 books for my first semester. Of course there are 8 semesters in a 4-year program. By the time I finished my BA, I had quite a stack of books. And I enjoyed my reading so much that selling my books back to the bookstore never seemed an attractive option to me. Like Charles W. Eliot, I had a BA on my bookshelf. A couple years later, I earned a Master's degree in magazine journalism and I had an MA on my bookshelf. So my library started with stacks of textbooks.
I suspect that's often the case. I mean one way to think of higher education is as an environment in which, to survive, you have to read a lot and write about what you read. Eight years of that discipline gets to be a habit. Twenty years after graduate school, I woke up one night in a panic because I just KNEW I had a term paper due in the morning and I hadn't even started the research.
So I buy a lot of books. So I can read them. So I can write about them. So I can become a better reader. So I can read more books. So I can.... Am I the only person here who sometimes suspects that he must be some kind of weirdo lab rat? Is liberal education really just a sneaky federal subsidy for publishers and bookstore owners and the paper industry?
In college I found that when (for whatever reason) professors clean out their offices, they typically throw hundreds of books out into the hallway. Whoever wants the books can pick up as many as they like. I used to hang around during the first couple days of a semester break hoping for one of those deals.
At graduate school, I started haunting the second-hand bookstores that cluster around the university campus. I didn't shop for specific items, however. I was a notion buyer, and that's the kind of library I ended up with.
Twenty years later I find myself -- for the first time in my life -- permanently settled. I will probably die in the house I now occupy, if that's ten years from now or tomorrow morning. Also for the first time in my life, I'm paying serious attention to my book collection.
When I moved in here I had about 650 books by nearly as many authors concerned with nearly as many subjects. About half of them were paperbacks, and some of the hardcovers were in pretty rough condition. So what I'm engaged in at the moment is culling and shaping my collection.
I've decided that all of the paperbacks have to go. The titles that I care about are being replaced with hardcovers -- a few at a time as I can afford them -- in 'very good' or better condition. Titles I don't care for are not being replaced: they're going out the door to library book sales in one or another of the towns nearby. That's how I started with a collection of 650 books but now have a library of only 574 volumes. My priority now is to build a collection of hardcovers by my favorite authors that fit into the categories I like best: History, biography, journalism, adventure fiction, criticism, mythology, classical lit, writers and writing.
While my collection grows and takes shape on the wall behind me, I sit at the keyboard and hone my critical skills by writing reviews. My desk faces a picture window on the north side of the house. My books perch on the south wall of the same room: they provide inspiration while they cover my back and warm my spirit.
So here I sit in a room full of books: My tea is hot. There's a batch of banana bread in the oven; the smell of it fills the kitchen and drifts into my room through the open door. Moxie, my cat, is asleep at my elbow. Who could ask for more than I've got at this moment is a greedy SOB.
GroupsBook Collectors, Book reviewers, Catholic Tradition, Iowans who LibraryThing, Pro and Con
Favorite authorsR. M. Koster (Shared favorites)
Membership LibraryThing Early Reviewers/Member Giveaway
Real nameDeacon &amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;Deke&amp;amp;am
Account typepublic, lifetime
Member sinceSep 8, 2009
Currently readingOscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions, with Memories of Wilde by Bernard Shaw by Frank Harris