Too Many Books?

Counting Books

This weekend I decided it would be fun to count all the books in the house. I know, I should get out more ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ย 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!


  1. A good book is worth holding onto, but for myself, it has gotten to the point where de-cluttering is more therapeutic, My husband and I plan to sort through our collection and donate or sell some of the extraneous volumes. Interesting post.

    • We pared back about 30 books…I expect more will go over time because the computer and business books will become dated, and sooner or later I will accept that I will never read Sartre again, LOL!

  2. I’m always interested to know what others think on the topic of “how much is too much” with books (or too little!) My limit earlier on was “what am I prepared to pack and move frequently?” Now that we’re hopefully more permanent in abode, my limit is “how much can I currently shelve?”

    What are your thoughts on e-books? Will they replace some of your collection over time?

    • I was in the same boat. I stopped bringing home discarded library books because I had moved so often and I was tired of moving them. I actually did just have two book cases up until Rom moved in, and my books still fit in them. Now that we’ve re-vamped our book storage, I will not be getting any more book shelves! Rom has definitely gone the e-book route so he only buys guitar-related (print) books now. I don’t buy books much at all because I bring stuff home from the library daily! Interesting to think of replacing print books with e-books; we’ll see how it goes!

  3. That’s an impressive collection, but 110 computer books? I always felt mine grew too large when I couldn’t find a book when I wanted it.

    • The computer books are reference guides such as how to program in C++ and use MySQL and things like that which Rom uses at work. Personally I only have one computer book – it’s on Photoshop! As for not being able to find things – that’s how I feel about my paper-based filing system at work!

  4. Wow, your readership (of the blog) is growing – you go girl! Onto books! I have about 50 max in my little home. But that’s cause the three years prior, I lived with a WHOLE wall (easily 5 m long) which was floor to ceiling books, and it was just TOO much for me. Too cluttery – so my few books are largely hidden (in the top of the wardrobe, but faced out if I need one etc). And I library-it-up (this morning in fact I did a return dash). My mum’s a HUGE reader, and her brother is a bookshop owner, so a lot of uncorrected proofs. And a lot of ‘work’ books (she’s been an English teacher for a while now). AND, she’s just taken on my advice to list what she reads – starting when she moved overseas in Sept (returning tomorrow) – I think she’s up to 40+

    • Sarah, I have been thinking of you and wondering how you’re faring in the heat wave!

      How did you decide what books to keep? Have you stopped buying them entirely?

      • Yep I pretty much don’t buy them – occasionally I’ll offer some titles as ‘gift’ ideas. I keep the books on the holocaust (I buy them all over the world, when I visit sites and museums), and self-helpy ones, but they will go if people ask/want/need them. The heat’s ok actually, I read another Canadian blog and am shocked by how negative temps are getting there!

      • I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC the last time I was there.

        Our temperatures on the east coast have been above average this winter; we had rain this weekend.

  5. Holy cow that’s a lot of books!! It would be great if one could just scan the ISBN number and the entire contents would magically jump in the Kindle or something! (I sold all of mine when we moved because I DID NOT want to pack and move them!).

  6. that is indeed a lot of books. I donate a lot of mine to our local library but still keep reference (non fiction) books so probaby have a couple hundred…..or more!!! You can’t have enough books or magazines to my mind.


  7. I have never done a count but I know we have a lot and they are more reference than fiction. Over here we have a program on Radio called Desert Island Discs. Basically you are allowed to take 8 discs or records, one book and a luxury item onto a Desert Island. I often think about which book I would take if I could only choose one – could I ever de-clutter down to just one – I very much doubt it!

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