I am surrounded by books. I wanted to write, “I am surrounded by a sea of books,” but when I considered the number I have, I think better of it. Perhaps it is more of a puddle.
For years, I have wanted to create a database of my small library and finally got to it during these first months of 2017. I’ve used online sites before, sites like Goodreads and Library Thing, but never took the time to enter old volumes that I’ve had, some – like The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle – that bear my Pomeroy Elementary School signature – “Gene Kraay” – that have followed me since I was a boy.
I am ironically leery of technology, but I found the “Shelves” app useful as I scanned or entered my collection book by book. When I finished, I had entered 469 titles. Some got lost in the technological shuffle as only 403 survived the ‘transfer’ to my computer. Several titles are ‘collections’ and contain multiple volumes like The Complete Novels of Mark Twain, which are contained in seven volumes. I own multiple copies of a handful of books like Steven Pressfield’s Virtues of War.
I am confident that my personal library exceeds 500 volumes. Most are housed and displayed in four bookcases – three in my office and the one in the living room that protects my ‘treasured’ books that include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Samuel Clemens before he changed his name to Mark Twain, a first edition of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, which I picked up this weekend from an antique store for $50, a complete set of Shakespeare published in 1846, and all my signed, first editions by friend and mentor Steven Pressfield.
I need another bookcase to shelve the volumes hidden in the hall closet upstairs. No book needs to be hidden. Then again ….
I will do a better job of cataloging my books and arranging them in sections. For now, a quick look at my database reveals that I possess upwards of 200 works of fiction, both classical and contemporary, about 100 ‘spiritual’ books, 50 history books and 50 historical novels ….
No, I’ve not read them all, but some, I’ve read more than once, and Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, three times. My largest book … Chronicle of the 20th Century with its 4-inch spine. The smallest … Messiah’s Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul by Richard Bach. My favorite book? … I’ve read many great books, but the one that stands above the others is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
When I enter a person’s home or office, my eyes immediately search for the books. I believe you can tell much about a person by the books he reads. I’ve often said that the books I’ve written define me as a human being. I believe that the same can be said about the books that we read.
What do the books you’ve read say about you?