This weekend I decided it would be fun to count all the books in the house. I know, I should get out more 🙂
The idea arose because:
- We installed custom wall shelving in the living room for books, and it seems like Rom has twice as many books as me
- We are re-doing our home office space and needed to get more book shelves
- I wondered if I could still fit all of my books in two book cases
- I wondered how many children’s books Link owned while growing up
Rom and I have very different reading tastes. He reads widely from philosophy, spirituality, science and business, while the books I own are mostly fiction. I can see that this bias was transferred to Link, because Link and I borrowed information books from the library, and bought mostly picture books and novels. In latter years I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction books too, but I don’t purchase them.
Without further ado, we have 1769 books in the house. We have wall shelving in the living room, 4 new book cases in the office, 1 in the rec room, 1 in the new music room, and 1 in Link’s room. And of course, there is a shelf of cookbooks in the kitchen.
Link and I were on our own for many years and we confined our books to 3 book cases. So the expansion is entirely due to the large library that Rom arrived with in 2009!
It amuses me greatly that there are only 7 duplicates in our collections:
- Shakespeare’s The Tempest
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
- Plato’s The Last Days of Socrates
- Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style
- Stephen Covey’s The 7 habits of Highly Effective People
- M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled
- Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct
Here’s the breakdown:
- Dar owns 455 books
- Link owns 342 books (left behind because they are mostly children’s books)
- Rom owns 972 books
Total 1769 books
So Rom does, in fact, own more than twice as many books as I do!
Rom and I also have different strategies. I liberally brought home books discarded from the library until 10 years ago when I said, “Enough is enough!” and stopped. I saw that I bought a lot of new books I hadn’t read. Most importantly, my reading tastes are so different from my family and friends’ that I couldn’t share most of what I bought. I was purchasing books to read once and sit on a shelf forever. Now I rarely buy books. I even take library books with me when I travel. Ironically, the books I’m most likely to buy are ones I’ve read: I’ll think, “That was fantastic; I have to own a copy!” Luckily, that is only occasional.
2/3 of my book collection is comprised of fiction, poetry and plays. 25% of my books are children’s and young adult literature from when I was a children’s librarian, which were also shared with Link over the years.
Rom’s books are more of a reference library. About one third of his books were required for learning skills for jobs he’s had, and he still uses the 110 computer books he owns as reference sources for his current job. Another third of his books are about his main area of interest, which I will call “systems for living.” As noted, they include philosophy, science, religion, spirituality, ethics and wellness. He has great expertise, with decades of reading on these subjects. And the remainder are split between music books (half of which are musician’s reference books), sci-fi and graphic novels.
Rom has become a library user since he moved to Canada and married a librarian, and he now prefers e-books for everything that isn’t photo-heavy. The only books he buys now are music theory and music instruction (and pretty photo books of music gadgets). I have decided that if I buy any books, they will be photo books that I’ll browse through over and over.
Meanwhile in Toronto, Link is developing a small personal library of Russian literature, Victorian literature and books that steampunk fans like (e.g. The Time Machine and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). But much time is occupied with web comics!
Have you let books take over your house? What limits have you set – if any?
In case you are wondering, no, I have not catalogued our books at home! However, they are grouped into rough subject areas like computer books, music books, and novels!