Again, deviating from the norm here to egg you on to read the New York Times piece ‘How Many Books Does It Take to Make a Place Feel Like Home?’ (Hey, essays and articles count as media, and this is an article worth reading!)
Whenever my wife and I have searched for a new place to live we’ve told the agent: “It has to have a lot of wall space. We have a lot of shelves.”
We currently live in a standard-size condo carved out of a 1890s Chicago house, so it’s not extremely spacious. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any free wall space not taken up by shelves or other furniture. In fact, we refer to our front room as ‘the library’, even though media shelves wrap around the rest of the condo.
So, when we read this article, we started guessing at how many books we have, whether we’d have the 1,000 to be ‘book-wrapt’ (a phrase I promise you I will never type again). At first guess, I thought I might have around 400 books. Then I did a rough count and it turned out to be around 1200. (Obviously, I suck at carnival games.)
Coincidentally, I’m in the process of whittling down my collection, something I do every few years. I realize some consider that blasphemy, as in: “Every book I buy is a book I want to keep!” That’s a nice thought, but I change over time, and I also receive a number of books I simply have no interest in. Also, I am simply running out of space. (I’ve included a photo above, which should speak for itself. The boxes in the lower left are for books to donate, as well as books to put into storage.)
I realize not everyone feels the same way I do. Some folks move a lot, or they don’t have the space or the inclination to cultivate their own home library. Hell, I even know writers who keep very barren bookshelves. However, not a day goes by where I don’t peruse my stacks, looking for a quote or a fact or a bit of prose that I think I may be misremembering, and I know that our place would feel incomplete without our homegrown library.