Monday, April 9, 2012

My Home Library

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Whenever I meet new people or visit people's houses, books always seem to crop up in the conversations. And I find I'm unfailingly interested in people's book collections. What someone reads tells me a lot about the kind of person he or she is. Assuming as my blog reader, you're likewise interested in my home library, here're a few questions I posed to myself and answered herein.

Where is your home library housed?

The library is split up into three pieces. Adult fiction is in the study upstairs, children's books actively being read are in a bedroom upstairs, and the rest of the collection (nonfiction, children's books, coffee-table books, etc.) are all in the library downstairs.

What is the system of book organization?

The fiction is alphabetized by author only and unsorted within each author section. The bookshelves consist of smallish rectangular boxes, each alphabet gets one or more boxes, depending upon the number of books. The children's books, upstairs, are organized by author only and not alphabetically. The children's books, downstairs, are completely unorganized, except for board books on one shelf and the rest on another. The nonfiction is organized thematically, for example, sciences, travel, foreign languages, cookbooks, etc., but unorganized within each category.

Approximately, how many books do you own?


What was the first book you were gifted with?

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, translated into English by Katherine Woods and published by Harcourt, Brace & World in NYC in 1943. My mother owned it before she was married, and she gave it to me when I was born.

Which books did you buy first?

Four books in 1979:
The Mutiny of Board H.M.S. Bounty by William Bligh, adapted by Deborah Kestel and pubbed by Playmore Inc. under arrangement with Waldman and Son, NYC (1979)
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll, pubbed by Piccolo Pan Books, London (1977)
Man in the Sky: the early years by Althea Braithwaite, pubbed by Colourmaster International, Huntingon England (1972) —The Littles Go Exploring by John Peterson, pubbed by Scholastic (1978)

Which is the book with the oldest copyright in your collection?

The Cousins by Maria M'Intosh is a children's book pubbed by George Routledge and Sons of Ludgate, London. The copyright page has been lost, but the last known owner was one Emily P. Mason. Her name's inscribed inside along with the date January 1, 1882. I bought it from Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland, England on June 26, 2002.

What are your most unusual books?

Seven Poems by Hans Christian Andersen, translated into English by R.P. Keigwin, published by H.C. Andersen Hus in Odense, Denmark in 1955. I acquired this collection from the Andersen House in Odense on July 10, 2002. In the western world, Andersen is not known for his verse, though he wrote quite a bit in his salad days, including one when he was but a schoolboy. A few of his poems have been set to song and are very popular as national songs.

Why I Live On The Mountain is a collection of thirty Chinese poems from the Great Dynasties, translated by C.H. Kwôck and Vincent McHugh, with calligraphy by John Way, and pubbed by Golden Mountain Press, San Francisco in 1958.

Which is the shortest book, in terms of number of words?

Baby Face by Dorling Kindersley (2002) has 18 words.

Which is the longest book, in terms of number of words?

I have a hardcover collected edition of 566 pages by Wings Books, Random House (NYC, 1991) of three of Dorothy Sayers books: Strong POison (1930), Have his Carcase (1932), and Unnatural Death (1927). (Aside: Sayers's full name is Dorothy Leigh Sayers Fleming.)

Are you a hardcover book collector?

I haven't gone out of my way to collect hardcover books. If the book I'm interested in buying only exists in hardcover, then I'll buy it. Otherwise, whatever is the cheapest edition, gets my money.

Has your library grown steadily since your first purchase?

Not at all. My collection was tiny through all my schooling and college years—I borrowed heavily from friends and libraries. It's only when I got my first full-time job that I had the spare cash to purchase books. Even then, I read far more from the library than I bought from the bookstore. It was finally when I became an aspiring writer of historical romance fiction that I started collecting books in earnest. I needed books on the craft of writing, for research, and as examples of writing in my sub-genre. In addition, I felt that if I expected others to buy my future books (when—not, if—pubbed), I should be doing the same thing for other authors.


Anonymous said...

Well, that's amazing! Your book collection is far better organized than mine. I read about 100 books a year, most of which I buy (these days in hardback). I don't have enough shelves for all of mine, so some just sit on the floor. I recently gave over 120 books to the library, but have bought probably 30 books since then, so even when I free up some space.... Anyway, congratulations on your library!

Keira Soleore said...

Thank you for reading and commenting here. Books, books, books, how we love them. The number of books we own has alarmingly expanded since I did that blog. On the positive side, I have more shelving now. :) Hope you'll likewise update your books' display spaces. :)