Am I collector or do I just, due to occupational hazard, have a lot of books and is there a difference?
As if by magic Jared has an excellent post on book collecting on his blog:
The gentlemanly @onechaptermore, generously mistaking my enthusiasm for expertise, asked me for some thoughts on book collecting. This seemed a little big for Twitter, but a great idea for a blog post.
And after reading it I’d not describe my hoard of books as a collection but I do have some mini-collections on the shelves. Like this one:
But I’m not sure you’d describe it as a true collection. If I was a collector I would have increased the first edition hardbacks I own to include those that came out before I started reading Sir Terry (e.g. before Maskerade). I didn’t buy the hardback editions of the Tiffany Aching and as I was a poor student at the time I’m missing Making Money in hardback. This set has organically grown as I’ve been reading.
The same can be said about Neal Asher. Though I’m honoured to have a few proofs of his work but again I haven’t gone out to eBay or similar hunting down earlier editions. I’ll probably end up with new covers (those on the bottom left) of most of his books as I do like them I guess that’s a sort of a collectors thing.
The only book I’ve bought above as a collector’s item is the hardback of Stone. There is something I love about that book, I’ve got the paperback signed from when I met Adam at an event, but the others are there because I love him as an author and I like seeing him on the shelves.
Speaking of loving seeing authors on the shelves I am proud to have two China Miéville proofs and signed editions of The City & The City and Kraken (again from meeting the him at signings)
I do have two deliberate collections of books. The first is the new SF Masterworks editions from Gollancz. I wish I’d kept my copy of The Stars My Destination but I wasn’t going to reread it and I don’t tend to keep books that I’ve read despite all the evidence above to the contrary. And sorely tempted to buy it again to fill the gap (collecting pull right there). Oh and you might be able to see some Peter F. Hamilton’s at the back.
I re-bought The Engines of God as Headline as bringing are out the series again and when I read the first one years ago I liked it (Voyager didn’t release the rest) and I’m hoping I will again but if I don’t it’ll be out the door. If I like the second in the series after that again they’ll stay and if not then not much point in keeping them (see I’m not a collector really).
The other books I’ve deliberately starting to collect with the intention of getting the lot (unlike the SF Masterworks where I’m going to be selective) are those of Gladys Mitchell’s detective Mrs Bradley and as I’ve been enjoying the style of the time I picked up the Gervase Fen Mysteries for a bargain price. I hope I like them enough for them to stay.
Oh and if you could see the rest of the shelves you’d see the Fred Vagas books – kept because I love the her detective and I may want to reread him. Speaking of detectives, below are some of my favourites in Urban Fantasy – Felix Castor, Peter Grant, Bob Howard, and Harry Dresden at the back. Again collectored as I’ve read them. Though as I like them I’m tempted to upgrade the first two Laundry books to the new cover design. I probably won’t though. I guess those are a collection as are the George Mann though I had the US editions of a couple and gave them away.
More organic collecting is from the poetry shelf. It does (double layered) fit on a shelf and includes some of my favourite wordsmiths like U. A Fanthorpe, John Agard, ee cummings, Matthew Francis to pick a few you can see. I was really into people and these are the only books I’m loathed to cull even if I don’t really like the poet.
But after that the shelves get to be a mix of read and unread like those below:
Over the last few weeks I’ve been having a cull. You might have seen I’ve been asking twitter for its opinion on whether books are work keeping. And even after all that I’ve ended up with 583 unread books that I can’t bear to part with. Well I could probably let go of and extra 10% but that still gives me a sizeable amount of books that all have shelf-space which are waiting to be read.
If you walked in and looked at the shelves I think you’d be impressed with the variety and the number of books I own but I don’t think you’d be able to get me to say they were a collection.
I could show you books I’ve collected and kept on purpose but I could also start listing books that I’ve happily given away without a second thought – Lord of the Rings for example. I’ve also got the unread Merrily Watkins books that look like a collection but will be joining the rest outside the house when I’ve read them.
To be honest I’m surprised I’ve kept as many books I have that have been read. If I need the space I’d be selecting more to go. To save a space if you’re unread you have to have lots of potential and to remain you have to have really captured a special place that I want to have you around.
I guess you’d all call me a collector but I’m just a man with a lot of books.
What about you? Do you have collections or just book piles that you want to keep?