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[books] How many books, and which ones? - Lakeshore
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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-11-20 05:23
Subject: [books] How many books, and which ones?
Security: Public
Tags:books, gender, personal, publishing, race
Yesterday in comments, discussing my library card expedition, [info]rekre8 said:
but...but...how do you then STORE all the books? My library is about 5,000 books large (I know intimately, as I've been in the midst of a move), and I re-read constantly, and I use the library for items I'll only read once or before I buy something from an author to see if I'll like it, simply because one does not have the SPACE.


To which I responded:
I've probably owned 15,000 or 20,000 books in my lifetime. There have been three major culls starting in the year 2000, and I am now down to rather less than 5,000 in my house. But I have a pretty big basement. Space isn't really the issue. (Two of the three culls were connected to relocation and not wanting to move hundreds of pounds of books.)

My current standard for keeping books is (a) will I ever want to re-read this, (b) will I ever want my daughter or some other person interested in SF to read this (presumably classic), (c) will I ever want to loan/give this book to someone because I love it so much I think they should read it.

Well, and there some books I think a person should just have, my own version of the science fiction essentials.


Which leads me to a few questions for you guys reading this.

1) How many books do you own?

2) Is there a reason (space, personal philosophy, funding) that your collection is the size it is?

3) Why do you keep the books you keep? (Bibliomania is a perfectly acceptable answer insofar as I'm concerned.)

4) What books do you consider essential?

I already more-or-less answered 1-3. Here's a very incomplete answer to 4), for me, presented in no particular order.
  • Dune, the first three books, specifically

  • The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress along with selected other Heinlein (nothing from Number of the Beast forward)

  • Bujold's Vorkosigan books

  • Discworld (all of it)

  • Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun and Fifth Head of Cerberus

  • Anything from Delaney's early career

  • The Left Hand of Darkness

  • Hal Duncan's Vellum and Ink

  • Jeff VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen

  • Jo Walton's Among Others

  • Robin Hobb's Assassin books


That list is grossly inadequate, even from my own reading experience, let alone all the books I haven't read. On cursory examination, I also note that this list is thin on recent or contemporary work, thin on women writers, and thin on writers of color. You can almost chart when I grew up by the titles on it.

What do you say?

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Laura Anne Gilman: research books
User: suricattus
Date: 2012-11-20 13:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:research books

1) How many books do you own?

In paper form? About a thousand, give or take the ever-shifting piles of TBR. Another few hundred in digital form, and that's growing.

2) Is there a reason (space, personal philosophy, funding) that your collection is the size it is?

I used to have a library of over 5,000 books. Then four moves in five years, post-divorce (when I didn't have enough money to pay for moving them as well as furniture), plus landing in a NYC-sized apartment for the past 5 years, has kept it trimmed down.

3) Why do you keep the books you keep? (Bibliomania is a perfectly acceptable answer insofar as I'm concerned.)

a) personal favorites, b) rare editions, c) books-by-friends, d) I haven't read it yet, damn it, I need more time!


4) What books do you consider essential?

My Riverside Chaucer and Shakespeare. My entire poetry collection. Peter Beagle's A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE. My omnibus Sayers (the Lord Peter/Harriet Vane stories). Gailman/Pratchett's GOOD OMENS. All my 1920's/1930's American history reference books (some of them are hard/impossible to replace, now).
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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2012-11-20 16:30 (UTC)
Subject: addendum
I am told that the built-in, floor-to-ceiling bookcases in my ex-house, once filled with my books, now hold...no books.

This may be part of why the house's owner is now my ex-husband. :-)
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Jay Lake: funny-buddahomer
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-11-20 16:35 (UTC)
Subject: Re: addendum
Keyword:funny-buddahomer
Oy vey, said the WASP.
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mmegaera
User: mmegaera
Date: 2012-11-21 06:38 (UTC)
Subject: Re: addendum
That's just Wrong.
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mmegaera
User: mmegaera
Date: 2012-11-21 06:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I used to be married to a man (and a librarian, no less) who believed firmly that if it was available at the library, there was no reason to buy it. I won't say it's a primary reason we're no longer married, because it isn't. Primary, that is.

So I've only had the last 19 years to collect, and in that time I've moved five times, which has hampered my collecting somewhat. When I left him I had two small boxes of books. Now (after too many trips to Powells, among other things) I've got books in every room of the house, and built-in floor-to-ceiling shelves in my living room. Probably something over 1000 books but not quite 2000.

Collection's the size it is because I live in a condo and I'm basically out of space. If something comes in, something pretty much has to go out.

I keep re-reads when it comes to fiction, research books (I write historical fiction), and books that have good memories associated with them, mostly.

Essential? Over the long term? Bujold, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, Mary Stewart, an odd assortment of romances, and history involving my pet periods and places (mostly 19th-early 20th century American west). Also some particular how-tos, not necessarily of the practical variety.
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set bloggles to stun
User: elizaeffect
Date: 2012-11-20 14:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm in the middle of the first major (though very slow) cull of my life. I don't think I've ever owned more than a couple thousand books - I'm trying to put them all into Goodreads recently - but I had the benefit of a really excellent used bookstore with an amazing SF section when I was a teenager, just before internet selling started to take off. (I went back recently and it was all trash paperbacks, the stuff that wasn't worth putting online, I'm guessing.)

Which is to say, I consider as part of my essentials a lot of Golden Age+ story anthologies - the whole run of Wollheim World's Best SF, that sort of thing. Adventures in Time and Space, Possible Worlds of Science Fiction, or really anything by Conklin. (I wish I had my collection in front of me to think about this more!) When as an 11-year-old I knew I wanted to read SF my whole life, I figured I should start with the classics, so I went into that store with my life savings and bought anything that looked old and comprehensive, and I've never gotten rid of a single one of those.

Having finally faced the fact that I'm going to be moving from rental to rental for many years, I'm culling all my crappy recent paperbacks (early 90s or later) and making a conscious decision to focus on first-edition hardcovers and the occasional cool old paperback. It scratches a preservationist itch for me - I've fished good stuff out of a literal leaky shack in Florida or a deep-rural-Ohio Amish antiques store that mysteriously received a dump of Star Wars memorabilia and SF books at one point or another - and I find that having several shelves in a row of good books I haven't read yet to stare at is a wonderful relaxation tool. I guess that's bibliomania.

I can often remember the time, location and context of books I've purchased even when I can't remember where I put my keys. Each book is a piece of nostalgia entirely apart from the written adventures inside. Good bookstores stick with me for years - the little one in Vermont with the friendly cat, the other little one in a trailer down the road from where I live now in Virginia with the entirely different friendly cat, the aforementioned leaky shack on the Gulf coast, the one in Cleveland that introduced me to SF. I love books, I love reading, I love writing, and whatever shit I go through in life, whatever individual books come and go, that love can't be taken away.

As a footnote, I'll mention that I've recently started reading ebooks on my phone. It's not quite the same feeling, but a good adjunct to physical books! I don't remember where I bought them (the ether) but I do remember intensely when and where I read them, and those memories color my interpretation of what I read. The context is different, but the love is the same. :)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-11-20 14:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you. That is a lovely meditation on books.

BTW, one of the reasons my early (college/post-college) book hoard received a huge boost was that a local independent SF bookstore in Austin sadly went out of business, and everything was somewhere between 25% (new) and 10% (used) of cover price to clear. Like you, I dropped every scrap of cash I could find on potential essentials and things that looked interesting. Several hundred dollars at those discounts at mid-1980s prices is a *lot* of books.
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dionysus1999
User: dionysus1999
Date: 2012-11-20 14:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
1) Hundreds of books, mainly gifts/freebies from helping friends move.

2) Huge proponent of our library system. Owning the physical object isn't important to me. I typically support the authors I like by purchasing their novels as gifts, or request that the library obtain a copy.

3) Reference, mostly. A few I re-read occasionally. Lately wife and I have been reading out loud to each other, so we have been purchasing a few for that, mostly old favorites.

4) The reference/how to books, Ringworld, Illuminatus Trilogy, American Gods.
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Angie: New Me
User: aiela
Date: 2012-11-20 14:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:New Me
1) How many books do you own?

When we moved to our current residence in 2005, we cataloged everything as we packed it. At that time, we had 1700 books. That number is probably bigger now, although we lost some books in some basement flooding (we cannot display all of our books, although we're working on it.) but we've also got a huge collection of audiobooks (two memberships to Audible) and for the last year most of what I've purchased has been ebook.

2) Is there a reason (space, personal philosophy, funding) that your collection is the size it is?

It has slowed down (and become digital) because of space concerns. We are currently working on putting a library in in our house in a room that was formerly my office when I was a student, and hopefully it will be able to hold everything, although I'm not convinced.

3) Why do you keep the books you keep? (Bibliomania is a perfectly acceptable answer insofar as I'm concerned.)

I like having a house with books in it. It brings me comfort to see them there, even if there are some I will never re-read. I like having books for friends to peruse, and to be able to lend out.
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Nathan
User: mastadge
Date: 2012-11-20 15:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
1) How many books do you own?

LibraryThing suggests close to 6,000, but I haven't finished cataloging, and a not insignificant chunk of that (10-15% maybe) comprises comic collections, so I'm not really sure.

2) Is there a reason (space, personal philosophy, funding) that your collection is the size it is?

I'm trying to cut it down, and I've been using the library much more frequently over the past couple years. As others have mentioned, moving all those books is expensive and exhausting, and accumulating them is expensive. Also, yes, space. My mother has a large basement that she allowed me to convert to a library, but if she even has to move again I certainly don't have room for more than 1000 or so in my apartment.

3) Why do you keep the books you keep? (Bibliomania is a perfectly acceptable answer insofar as I'm concerned.)

Posterity. Bibliomania. I'm trying to get out of that mindset and do another major cull but the way I was raised getting rid of books is simply not an endeavor willingly undertaken.

4) What books do you consider essential?

Those -- fiction and non- -- that changed the way I see the world. Those that changed the way I read. Those by authors I consider friends. There are a number of rare or limited editions that I don't exactly consider essential but am also in no hurry to get rid of given the effort required to find them in the first place. And a number of reference volumes that I'm not terribly tied to but that might be difficult or costly to replace. And a number of books that I don't love yet on account of not having had time to read them, but that I suspect I will love enough that I can't bring myself to part with them.
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User: serialbabbler
Date: 2012-11-20 15:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
1) How many books do you own?

I've never managed to count them all because I give a lot of them away when I'm done with them. My personal library is always in fluctuation. Usually my household has somewhere around 2,000 paper books, I think.

2) Is there a reason (space, personal philosophy, funding) that your collection is the size it is?

I prefer to keep the collection relatively small (for a bibliophile) because I come from a family of hoarder-ish people and while the idea of dying under a pile of old books is amusing, the reality probably wouldn't be. Also, space and money for books really are issues. Also, I adore public libraries and if I always went out and bought every book that looked the slightest bit interesting to me, I wouldn't have any excuse to visit them.

3) Why do you keep the books you keep? (Bibliomania is a perfectly acceptable answer insofar as I'm concerned.)

I haven't read them yet... or I have read them and I want to read them again... or I have read them and I don't want to read them again, but the physical reality of the book has some sort of special meaning to me.

4) What books do you consider essential?

I don't really have a canon of books. Books themselves are essential to me, but not really specific books.
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2012-11-20 15:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
After elizaeffect's post I almost hate just answering this as little more than a list. :) But time presses on...

1) How many books do you own?

About 3,000.

2) Is there a reason (space, personal philosophy, funding) that your collection is the size it is?

Lots. They include the fact that I like having a personal library of books that aren't always (or usually) available in local libraries. A lot I bought for research, and I still use them for that. Many I simply love. With more space and more money, there would be more books.

3) Why do you keep the books you keep?

Yeah, bibliomania, and the above reasons (plus other personal ones I didn't detail).

4) What books do you consider essential?

I have several categories of essential. There are quite a few books I love on their own merits, or because they were gifts from people I care about.

There are the research books--I have a whole shelf sitting next to my writing computer now, for instance, of stuff related to my Arizona novel. I have a shelf devoted to books written by friends.

I have a shelf devoted to books once owned by family members back to my great-grandparents. I have a shelf of about 100 books (plus a mammoth tooth) that belonged to my uncle, Phil Farmer, out of a library that once hit 20,000--including a couple dozen that were file copies of his own novels. The gem of the non-Farmer-written books, the most essential of the essential, is his copy of Burke's Peerage, which helped him create his Wold Newton universe. I plan to hang on to that for a long, long time.
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seventorches
User: seventorches
Date: 2012-11-20 16:13 (UTC)
Subject: Lots.
Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels.
Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis
Planetary, ditto.
The first four ElfQuest collections.
Neil Gaiman's Sandman and other works.
Bridge of Birds. (in a well-ordered household, each member has their own copy.)
Anything illustrated by Arthur Rackham.
Anything illustrated, period.
The Biology of Tardigrades.
Any art book, especially the one about Remedios Varo.
Cristopher Brookmyre.
The Belgariad by David Eddings.

Anything obscure enough that it will be difficult to replace.
Anything I re-read often enough that not being able to lay hands on it will be burdensome.

The Art of Blacksmithing.
The Hive and the Honey-Bee.
The Metalsmith's Book of Boxes and Lockets.
Neuromancer.
Gossamer Axe.

There's more, I'm sure, but you get the gist.
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alumiere
User: alumiere
Date: 2012-11-20 18:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I would guestimate I have about 500 books now in paper form and another 100 in ebook or audiobook.

Space, $, and the ability to hold/read books are all part of why the number isn't higher.

I'm definitely a bibliophile, but since I have to keep the collection small to fit into our apartment I cull on the following guidelines...
Will I read this again?
Does it have sentimental value?
Is it a comfort read?
Is the physical object special or is it a limited edition?

Must haves for me include:
Kim Stanley Robinson especially the Mars trilogy
The Hobbit and LOTR
Isabelle Allende - House of Spirits
Peter Straub - Shadowland
Good Omens
Toni Morrison especially Beloved and Jazz
Elizabeth Bear - Bone and Jewel Creatures, The New Amsterdam series
Shakespeare
Caitlin R Kiernan
Neil Gaiman
Octavia Butler
William Gibson
Neal Stephenson - Snowcrash
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2012-11-20 19:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
at current count 24,562 books in the Great Work, and still cataloging the last boxes..

I have never wanted to give up a book, I love Libraries, but they expect you to give the books back.

Books are my Precious.. its hard to pick the best, or the worst..
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Twilight: WritingScroll
User: twilight2000
Date: 2012-11-20 21:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:WritingScroll
How many? I honestly have no clue - we have no room without a bookshelf (ok, bathrooms have book shelf-ettes ;>), but I would guess in the neighborhood of 5ooo :>

Why?
We both were book collectors before we got married - add to that almost 30 years of books as gifts, we're both history majors *and* he's a librarian? Yea, culling is HARD (and not really of any interest :>).

What books are essential?
That varies from decade to decade - but over the years, I've re-read (some many times):
The Deryni Collection (Katherine Kurtz)
Foundation (Asimov)
Foreigner series (CJ Cherryh)
Mary Russell series (Laurie King)
LOTS of golden age originals that I re-read every so often (from my mom's collection - oh yea, this is a hereditary disease :>).

Now working on classics:
Verkorsigan (Bujold)
Callahan's Place (series - Spider Robinson)

I know there are others - but they've escaped my brain for the nonce.
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desperance: luke
User: desperance
Date: 2012-11-20 22:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:luke
You can almost chart when I grew up by the titles on it.

Of course we can. Any booklist is an act of autobiography, and hence implicitly datestamped.

A book collection over a lifetime is pretty much a full confession, which may be one reason why I had 6K+ volumes in my house in Newcastle. If you asked me, I had all manner of reasons why I had bought all these books, but the reasons why I kept them all amounted in the end to they're my books. QED.

In moving to California, I have had to cull for the first time in my life, and cull drastically. I doubt I'm actually shipping 2K, and I am sooo ongoingly uncomfortable about this. The books that are coming no longer represent an honest statement about me; it feels like I've rewritten my life, editing from a later perspective and cutting much. W H Auden revised a lot of his early work in later life, and I have criticised that as an act of dishonesty; now I feel that I've pretty much done the same, at one remove.
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Lupa
User: lupagreenwolf
Date: 2012-11-20 23:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
--Somewhere less than a thousand, though I cull frequently.

--Space, but also having a tendency to cull stuff in general every so often (I'm way overdue, though)

--Good resources and/or want to read them (again)

Top Three:

--Darwin's Origin of the Species
--In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Mate (a really hard-hitting, realistic, but compassionate look at addiction and caring for addicts, very good read)
--Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin (an ecopsychology-based model of developmental psychology, very thought-provoking)
--
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Msconduct
User: msconduct
Date: 2012-11-21 01:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have about 2,000 books, but I haven't added to them in recent years except via gifts. I'm a heavy library user instead. That's for a number of reasons, including:

Space. My bookshelves are full, and I have no room for more.

Eco. I'd rather share a library book with many other people than hoard those resources just for me.

Clutter. It's part of a general feeling as I get older that "stuff" is a burden more than a blessing. Now before I buy anything at all I have to be certain I have somewhere to put it, and I'd rather have less stuff generally.

Changing taste. I was sad to realise that many of the books I amassed say twenty years ago I'm no longer interested in rereading.

Pressure. There are so many tempting new books coming down the pike, all the time. I don't have time to read all of them, let alone reread my own books.

A great library. There are very few books I want to read that my library doesn't acquire.

As for asking which books are essential, that's just cruel. I'm not even going to attempt to answer it.
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anghara
User: anghara
Date: 2012-11-21 01:31 (UTC)
Subject: In response -

You asked:
1) How many books do you own?

Hard to say. When I got married hubby and I combined HIS books and MY books and since we were both biblionuts the total was already fabulous - but we've now been married for almost 13 years and in that period we did not stop acquiring what I now call OUR books. So we have pretty much three separate and melded collections in this house, and it's ECLECTIC. You can find books on almost everything possible somewhere on our shelves.

2) Is there a reason (space, personal philosophy, funding) that your collection is the size it is?

Space is always the issue. I believe you can never have too many books but there does come a point where you reach the reluctant conclusion that you simply have too few bookshelves and that this is an insoluble problem short of moving to the equivalent of a TARDIS (bigger on the inside, you know...) But even though this means the occasional reluctant goodbye to this or that volume in order to make room for something new, we manage.

3) Why do you keep the books you keep? (Bibliomania is a perfectly acceptable answer insofar as I'm concerned.)

I keep all the research books I acquired for various works that I myself was writing, plus serried ranks of non-fiction bookshelves on topics of interest which I simply do not want to discard. As far as fiction goes, I have come to the fairly reluctant point where I keep (a) books written by people I actually KNOW IN REAL LIFE (usually signed); (b) books I purchased on spec and love too much to part with; and (c) the basic set of what I consider to be the classics which I think have a right to a permanent spot on my shelves. Transient fiction by writers whom I do not know have one chance of claiming a place in subset (b) but if they don't make it they are not in this house for long. I'm sorry, but really, TOO FEW SHELVES. Also, I know too many writers who are personal friends and whose books I gather partly because I wish to read what they write and partly because I wish to support my friends' writing careers - so there's that, it's always present and hard to keep up with...

4) What books do you consider essential?

I own some from your list - namely, Dune (the first three books), a full set of Tolkieniana, a partial collection of Discworld, the Gene WOlfe books you name, a BUNCH of Le Guin (yes, including "Left Hand of Darkness"), and "Among others". If we are adding actual classics, I think the Alice books ("Wonderland" and "looking glass") have a reserved spot here. I also own a shelf-ful of Roger Zelazny, and also everything that GUy Gavriel Kay ever wrote. And a bunch of Octavia Butler. But I don't know about "essential" - I think that varies with the person making that judgment, and like some other stuff out there you just "know it when you see it" when it comes to your essential volumes.




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joycemocha
User: joycemocha
Date: 2012-11-21 10:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You asked:
1) How many books do you own?

I really haven't counted lately, but something around 2000 or so, rough guess. The size ebbs and flows depending on the mood. I did a major cull when we moved to this house and will probably do another cull.

2) Is there a reason (space, personal philosophy, funding) that your collection is the size it is?

Space, money and time. I would love to be able to keep more books but don't have the space, nor do I have the $ or time to buy and read as much as I would like.

3) Why do you keep the books you keep? (Bibliomania is a perfectly acceptable answer insofar as I'm concerned.)

Bibliomania. I keep research books, particular books I like, and books I know I want to reference for various purposes. Some of my YA horse book collection is because I wanted to read books in preferred series that I was never able to find as a kid. I also like being able to pick up a favorite classic such as Steinbeck's work and read for inspiration.

4) What books do you consider essential?

Some books relating to my teaching specialty and brain functioning
Pacific Northwest historical references, especially first person pioneering narratives
Selected feminist lit with emphasis on autobiography and outdoorswomen
Selected ecocriticism texts
Selected environmental writing
Ed Abbey
John Steinbeck
Josephine Herbst
Hunter S. Thompson
Assorted political works/references
Assorted historical references
Ski/outdoor writing
Extensive equine references, especially relating to Western riding (both how-to and historical), French-style dressage and classics (yes, including Xenophon), YA horse fiction (mostly older), and some training philosophy.
SF Collection--varies, combination of old masters and new faves. Probably the biggest subset of collection followed by PNW references and equine.




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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2012-11-21 17:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I own a couple of thousand, split between my office and my home.

I've left hundreds and hundreds behind over the years, including some that I'd consider essential (the complete Shakespeare that I received as a school prize, for example). Some I've had for decades (my copy of Plato's Republic I bought in 1973, and it lurks on one of my office shelves).
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Max Kaehn: Home
User: slothman
Date: 2012-11-22 00:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Home
My LibraryThing catalogue says 8450 books right now. (That’s my F&SF collection, my wife’s mystery collection, my roleplaying game collection, my wife’s cookbook collection, and my fortean/occult research collection.) It’s that large because I’m fortunate enough to be able to buy almost all the books that seem interesting to me, and since they go out of print so easily given the vagaries of US tax law, I pick them up as soon as I think I might want them rather than chancing that they might be hard to find later, and my criteria for keeping the ones I’ve read are pretty much the same as yours. As it is, my library is a labyrinth of bookshelves and I still have books double-stacked; I’m trying to get all my new books in electronic form, and am converting many old ones to electronic form and then handing boxes of them to a friend with a used book selling business who will then give me gift cards to online booksellers so I can continue the process. The ones where I have electronic versions where I kept the physical ones because I might want to lend them to someone someday, thus far, are P C Hodgell’s Kencyrath books, and Daniel Keys Moran’s tales of the Continuing Time. I may discover more later.
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blue_23
User: blue_23
Date: 2012-11-22 04:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
> 1) How many books do you own?

About 1200-1500 shelved. 100-200 more either in bins, or not in the library (commonly used reference material, etc.) I also am not including things like RPG manuals.

I have a small collection of electronic books, but a good chunk of that duplicates books I've purchased physically. I've got an odd hangup that I can't stand the idea of having a series split some physical and some ebook. I wish there was a way I could pay for content once and only the extra for layout/formatting for each additional format. (Though from past discussions here that may be more then I would expect.)

My wife has additional tastes in some genres I don't share, but the majority of those circulate through to others when read instead of making a home. But she's much different than me in that she almost never rereads a book.

> 2) Is there a reason (space, personal philosophy, funding) that your collection is the size it is?

For many years I was an open lending library for friends and many (!) didn't return, but that wasn't the point.

I've had to cull based on space. It's emotionally hard, but so far everything I've culled has been taken by friends, not sold to a secondhand store.

> 3) Why do you keep the books you keep? (Bibliomania is a perfectly acceptable answer insofar as I'm concerned.)

To reread! I see a lot of people preserving older and rare books, but I'd make a lousy comic collector because all of mine would be dogeared and well loved. Now, I'll loan them out as well, but if I wouldn't read it again, it's likely to get culled to make space for something new in short order to leave behind an old favorite.

As a caveat, some are to reread by reading aloud to my children. Lloyd Alexander's Taran series and Johnathan Livingston Seagull spring to mind.

> 4) What books do you consider essential?

All of them?

Okay, I know that's not a real answer, but, really.

Let me try fiction:

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Heinlein. Too much Zelazny to list. Niven, probably "Mote in God's Eye", Asimov hard to pinpoint. Snowcrash by Stephenson, or maybe Diamond Age or Zodiak or Cryptonomicon. Tigana and Fionovar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. All of Tim Powers, he's not that prolific. Aristio by Walter John Williams. "The War of the Oaks" by Emma Bull. Khavren/Vlad novels by Steven Brust. "A Wizard of Earthsea" by LeGuin. "The Demolished Man" by Alfred Bester. "The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch. Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Pleistocene Saga by Julian May. "Ender's Game" by Card. Dang, this is getting long; just add'l authors: Gerrold, Resnick, Daniel Keys Moran, Gibson, Sterling, Glen Cook, Zahn, Douglas Adams, C.S. Friedman, David Weber, Robin Hobb, Bujold, Pratchett, Gaiman, Clark. Rowling, I said it.
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