As some of you may have gathered, we love books. We collect books. We have books all over the house, in the oddest nooks and crannies, wherever we can squeeze them. I wrote an article (never published) called Raising a Reader: Confessions of an Obsessed Book Collector which, if I do say so, is a pretty darned accurate portrayal of our family's little, er, quirk.
And to answer the most frequently-asked question....no, we haven't read them all. We've read most of them, though - at least 75%.
So what do 5000+ books look like? I went around and photographed our bookshelves. We have about half of them roughly grouped into categories. The rest are a mishmash.
Here is our collection of history, politics, and finance:
A heavily-used shelf. Top shelf are interior design, some science series, and some photo collections by Life Magazine; next shelf are costuming (chiefly Renaissance and Medieval), arts, and crafts; next are the comic series (Foxtrot, Calvin & Hobbes, Baby Blues, The Far Side, etc.); next are our daily-use schoolbooks; and on the bottom, some oversized books involving art collections and mythology.
Mostly science books (largely geology, biology), including my cherished "In the Shadow of Man" autographed by Jane Goodall back in 1978; plus a few gardening books and miscellaneous mishmash.
A mishmash unit. Lots of novels (Bronte, Seton, M.M. Kaye, Austin) along with absolutely anything else, ranging from Plants of Idaho to a biography of Shirley Temple.
One of my favorite shelving units. This holds Childcraft books and This Fabulous Century books at the top; on the left are World Book Encyclopedias (picked up for $1/each when our old Oregon library upgraded to newer editions); left bottom are history books; and the two right-hand units hold my collection of farming, gardening, and homesteading books.
Oops, almost forgot our cookbooks:
A stray shelf built into the boot unit my husband made, next to our entry way. At the top are the cubbies where we tuck hats, gloves, etc. Bottom, obviously, are boots. This shelf holds a lot of our identification books (birds, flowers, insects, etc.) and some overflow mishmash.
The shelving unit next to the stairs. This is largely a mishmash of books we tend to reach for frequently - political books, Bill Bryson (love him!), some overflow children's books, and a lot of my collection of interior design and decorating books. (Which is pretty funny when you think about it, because I have absolutely no talent for interior decorating.)
The shelving unit next to the piano. This used to be a display unit for our tankards when we were doing craft shows. Now it holds a collection of classic literature - Bronte, Twain, Dickens, Aesop, Mitchell, that kind of stuff. A few shorter sets or series as we find them.
Oldest Daughter's bookshelf in her bedroom:
Our reference shelves, as well as oversized books (mostly art). This unit is at the base of our stairs, and the little radio ($5.99 at Goodwill) is constantly tuned to KAGU 88.7 FM, the classical station out of Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA so I can hear it in my office. Ah, bliss.
Shelves in the front room bathroom (that I now use as a canning closet). The lower shelf has books on religion and several spare Bibles; the middle shelf has books on psychology and human behavior; and the top shelf has books on simplicity and frugality.
Reference books on a high shelf in my husband's "office" (poor guy doesn't really have a proper place to call his own). These are wiring and plumbing manuals, woodworking reference books, appliance repair, that kind of thing.
A typical sight - recently finished (or recently referenced) books piled everywhere.
These shelves are on the stair landing right below my office. These are a mishmash - no particular order or theme.
These are my writing reference books in my office.
These are children's books that the girls have largely outgrown, but are too good to get rid of. We keep them upstairs near where the TV is. (For the record, we don't have TV reception and only use the TV for watching movies.)
One year Don asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I said I wanted a magazine shelf. We had magazines archived all over the house, and I wanted them shelved all in one place. Many of these are magazines Don or I write for - Countryside, Grit, Backwoods Home, Back Home, Crafts Report, etc. Others are magazines we get at thrift stores or free as library giveaways - Architectural Digest, National Geographic, etc. On the top shelf are two series of books (one on classic sailing ships - my husband used to be in the Navy; and the other an almost-complete Great Books of the Western World set) found at a library sale for - I'm not kidding - $3 for each series. For the whole series. (We thought we'd died and gone to heaven.) You can see something of the unfinished nature of our do-it-yourself house by the insulation above the books. On the other side of this wall is my office.
This is our "paperback bookshelf," squeezed into an odd nook outside our bedroom door. Don built these shelves out of 100+ year old barnwood we found in the attic of our old house in Oregon.
Some of our series volumes: my beloved Harvard Classics (incomplete - I'm working on acquiring the volumes as I find them) as well as some Great Classics I picked up for a buck apiece at a library sale. The rest is mishmash. The shelves were originally display units for our tankards back in the days when we did craft fairs. Now they're located in a spare bedroom.
So that's what 5000+ books look like. Any questions?
UPDATE: Now here's the Ultimate Library. I wish!