Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Come back when you're grown up, son

I'm not going to get all willy-waving over competitive book-buying, but Gabe Habash, writing in the Publishers Weekly (no, I don't know why they haven't got an apostrophe either, hope the stuff they publish is more literate), really needs to get over himself. Here's his title:

The Wonderful and Terrible Habit of Buying Too Many Books

Yes, it's in bold, because he's under the sway of a terrible spell which is eating him out of house and home. He's got a photo to illustrate the scale of the problem too:

Wow. The chaos. It's like the monastery library in The Name of the Rose, or the Unseen University's library. God, he must be broke and hungry.

As if… Single row of books on each shelf. An empty shelf! Space between some of the books. My heart bleeds for him. Listen to this:
(I did inventory for this article: I’ve read 85 out of the 371 books sitting on my shelves).
I gingerly proposed adding another shelf near the doorway of my roommate’s bedroom door, and I received a pretty impassioned response as a result.  “I think I have too many books,” I said once 
But don't worry, kids! He's staying strong. He's not going to 'purge' his library of books he'll never read. He sticking to his guns, because having a lot of books is a mark of ambition. On this, I tend to agree: I've written previously in defence of my own book-buying habits: I buy fun books for me, and serious Improving Books for Future Me, who is a nicer, kinder, more serious and more intellectual version of me. I'm sure he'll be grateful.

I'm not - contrary to appearances - in favour of hoarding books or anything else. Mine is a working library, though I should confess that the only capitalist joys in which I indulge are buying books and music (perhaps Doc Martens too). But Gabe needs a sense of perspective, and I'm here to give him one.

Here are the books in my office. Triple stacked, plus piles on top of the shelves (and more piles around my desk that you can't see). These are the books I'm either using for work, or haven't read yet. They come to the office because my flat is full. I thought I had a lot of books - until I saw that my friend Mark has 15000+ - putting my 3686 in the shade. Do I buy a lot? Well, Gabe boasts that he bought '2' last weekend. Here's my monthly buy (courtesy of Librarything's stats):

The very large bars are when I entered existing books on the system, but the rest are my monthly spend. I'm not proud - well, only a bit - but Gabe - don't talk the talk until you walk the walk (unless 300 or so books is a lot in America… what a dreadful thought!).


Rob Spence said...

We got rid of perhaps 1000 books when we moved from a large house to our current tiny abode. We are trying (and failing) to stick to a 'one book in, one book out' regime and now we have realistically no more room. There are around 3000 books in the house. I have about a thousand in my office. I really wouldn't fancy cataloguing them, though that might stop me acquiring duplicates, of which I've quite a few. Agree with you about Gabe (presumably short for Gabriel?)
Captcha words perfectly legible today.

M. H. Beals said...

My little ostrich-high collection pales in comparison.