Briefly this week, I got the book count on my LibraryThing account down under 800 after pitching some books. But, I also found some that I hadn’t yet added to the catalog, so the count is above 800 again.
Most of those are in my bedroom here in Queens. A few are still back in Virginia, but the one box worth not listed—because they’re currently for sale on Amazon or slated to be given away to friends—bring the in the room count back up close to that on the LibraryThing account.
The photo with this post shows you some of the books that are on the shelves that sit on the left side of my desk. It’ll tell you a lot of what I’ve got “part read” and my current interests, obsessions, and aspirations, though I’m not sure what Numbers: Rational and Irrational by Ivan Niven is doing there. Click here or on the photo for a larger version.
At brunch on Sunday we were talking about how many books we own… one friend claimed to own a lot of books, but admitted that it wasn’t as many as I’ve got. Mwhahah! Our friend David, won the prize for the person there with the fewest books owned, since he of course owns none. (If there was an actual prize, not just a theoretical one, someone might have disputed this conclusion.)
This reflection was prompted by these recollections. And also by rediscovering a fun 2008 article from the New York Times Book Review in the pile of stuff I’m trying to clean off my desk. Here’s a taste:
In order to have the walls of my diminutive apartment scraped and repainted, I recently had to heap all of my possessions in the center of the room. The biggest obstacle was my library. …it had begun to metastasize quietly in corners, with volumes squeezed on top of the taller cabinets and in the horizontal crannies left above the spines of books that had been properly shelved. It was time to cull. …
Nevertheless, things had gotten out of hand. The renovations forced me to pull every copy off every shelf and ask: Do I really want this? I filled four or five cartons with volumes destined for libraries, used-book stores and the recycling bin, and as I did so, certain criteria emerged.
There are two general schools of thought on which books to keep, as I learned once I began swapping stories with friends and acquaintances. The first views the bookshelf as a self-portrait, a reflection of the owner’s intellect, imagination, taste and accomplishments. “I’ve read ‘The Magic Mountain,’ ” it says, and “I love Alice Munro.” …
The other approach views a book collection less as a testimony to the past than as a repository for the future; it’s where you put the books you intend to read. “I like to keep something on my shelf for every mood that might strike,” said Marisa Bowe, a nonprofit consultant and an editor of “Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs.”
I lean towards the second method, I get rid of most things I’ve already read, but I’ve got lots of books I intend to read, lots.
Coming attractions: I’ve got some stuff about a Ukranian sculpture show I saw last weekend to post (including pictures), but it’ll take some time to put together. Also a post on the Oxford Movement and liturgical changes at Smokey Mary’s here in New York City. If you’re interested, leave me a comment on which one you’d rather see first.