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Describe your personal library

Book talk

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Oct 6, 2017, 5:05am Top

I'm particularly interested in the number of books and percentages of genres.
I'll be frank with you: I've gotten rid of most of my books because I'm rather after my main reading phase and books are so easily obtainable from the Internet.
I have only a small library left: 80 reference works, such as encyclopedias, foreign language dictionaries, grammars of foreign languages, atlases, around 40 mostly unread novels and 40 also mostly unread non-fiction works. Once I had hundreds of books, but the Internet changed everything, information is so easily available. I gave away my books or they are in the basement.

Oct 6, 2017, 8:08am Top

I've learned not to keep everything and anything, but I'm not as disciplined as you. Every book has a 'shelf life' in my collection, in the sense that some of them I eventually outgrow and remove. But I think a lot of what I still have at this point will still be around after I'm not.

Oct 6, 2017, 8:54am Top

>1 asurbanipal:

Once I had hundreds of books, but the Internet changed everything, information is so easily available.

But there is so much more to books than merely "information"! Honestly, I could probably dump my 1961 Encyclopaedia Britannica, but I keep it, not so much for the "facts" in it as for the manner in which the articles are written.

My library is probably larger than it should be (just under 4500 volumes) and is definitely taking up more space than I have (lucky you to have a basement!), but I find that the books I am willing to give away are the ones that don't take up the room. That's because I have a ton of art books and they tend to be large and heavy. Those, however, are exactly the ones that I want to keep. Also many of my books were bought because of the specific edition: the binding, the illustrations, etc. were what appealed in addition to the content. So even though I might be able to find a copy of the work again, I might not find that particular edition.

Oct 7, 2017, 1:27am Top

At one point I knew exactly how many books I owned, and I could probably figure it out if I went through my LT tags and did some math, but I'd say it's probably somewhere between 300 and 500, tho probably closer to 500.

I have over 200 unread books that I honestly do plan on reading someday, just that "someday" never seems to come. The books that I've read and kept are overwhelmingly kept because of fond memories: Multiple YA series, tho only my favorites from each series, books that remind me of childhood or certain events in my life, etc. I also tend to keep books that frustrate the heck out of me for one reason or another, because if a book gets that sort of response out of me, even if it's a negative response the author was obviously doing something right otherwise I just wouldn't care.

I have a few dictionaries and the like, though probably not as many as I should, and a small but very valuable (to me) collection of books on writing and finding inspiration for writing. I also tend to collect baby name books, despite never having had a baby myself.

Edited: Oct 7, 2017, 3:15am Top

I have something like 6,000 books, mostly on art history / architectural history / archaeology, and on related subjects such as cultural history. (And of course I also have "recreational" books).

I'm weeding some out every now and then, but I like being surrounded by books. Also, walls lined with books are great for insulation :)

Oct 7, 2017, 8:21am Top


At one point I knew exactly how many books I owned

For me, it's simple. Everything I own is in the "Your Library" collection. If I don't own it, because I got it from the library or deaccessioned it, it's in a different collection ("Deaccessioned" and/or "Read but unowned")

I do expect the "Your Library" number to increase this weekend. There's a big book sale in my neighborhood.

Oct 7, 2017, 10:45am Top

Mine is a working library, because I work in the book industry and have done so for all of my professional life. Exact numbers are hard to give, since books arrive for a variety of reasons, and also leave (much less often) for other reasons. But the collections in my catalog called "Your Library" (books), and "audio" (recorded books) and "arcs" (review copies) are all physically present in my library. The only one that isn't is the wishlist collection, which began as a way to track books I might be interested in, but I've abandoned it since it messes with my numbers and I like like catalog to represent my real world collection. So wishlist is slowly shrinking as I acquire books or decide I am not interested in them, after all. According to LT I have 6263 books in my "Your Library" collection right now, and that is probably pretty accurate.

As for genres, they are also an ongoing work in progress. Since I am a bookseller by calling, my library is arranged as a bookseller would do -- and I tend to pull out specialized subjects and give them their own shelves as my interests grow and I amass enough books to warrant a dedicated shelf or two. Thus, a shelf for biographies of scientists, the natural history of trees, Sherlockania, correspondence between writers, etc. etc. An ongoing dedication to reading literature in translation has resulted in about half my "fiction" shelves dedicated to writers by country or area of origin. Middle Eastern literature being the most numerous.

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