|A shelf in my home office.|
When I walk around my house I can see books in nearly every room. In fact there are books hidden away that I can't even see. There are books in my writing office, every bedroom, the hallway, the living room, dining room, garage, and even the kitchen where a number of cookbooks as well as other miscellaneous books sit in a top shelf of one of the cabinets. Most of the books sit neatly on shelves while some are in stacks since my shelf spaces long ago became filled. And I have no more room for more book shelves. I suppose I could almost say that my house has nearly reached saturation point as far as books go.
Gazing over all of my books I can see the story of my life told by this library. The book that I've owned longest is a King James Version of the Holy Bible given to me by Reverend Frank Van Valen from the Penn Hills Free Methodist Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1958 when I was seven years old. I also still have a book of religious artwork given to me at about the same time. Both of these are books that I've referred to many times in my life.
Those are not the first books I ever owned. The first books were several Little Golden Books that I can still picture in my mind. It's too bad that I don't still have those books, but those disappeared long ago, probably when I felt that I had outgrown them. They were treasures to me when I was small.
|Many of these books on this shelf in my late|
mother's home are now in my own home.
In my early teen years I began to buy books through the Doubleday One Dollar Book Club. The introductory offer of twelve books for ninety-nine cents was a boon to expanding my library. The obligatory later purchases assured a steady growth in my book collection to the point that my parents bought me book shelves for my bedroom. I read a lot during junior high and never lacked reading material in my ever growing personal library.
Soon I was joining other Doubleday Book Clubs such as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Club and the Mystery Book Club. I had become obsessed with reading and building my own personal library of books. Many of these have since been dispersed in the same way as my earlier books, but I also still have many of these fine books still on my shelves today. I was relatively discriminating about which books I got rid of and now consider the remaining books worth keeping.
College brought about a new onslaught of books--both textbooks and books that I bought because I was interested in them. Throughout my adult years I have continued to buy books. When I was on the road, bookstores were regular stops for me as I continually kept up with newer books that I had heard about or classics that I wanted to read. Each year at the end of the tour, more books would go into storage. I still have many of those books in my collection.
All through my life I have bought books. Buying books became not only a habit for me, but a necessary passion. If I had money, I would buy books. Often I would not get around to reading the books which now means I have a lot of books still to read.
Now I can peruse my collection of books and remember how I came upon almost every one of them. My books are like a gallery of the history of my life. The physicality of these books are points in my past, eras of my interests, and memories of my reading pleasures. My personal library says as much or more about who I am as anything else that I own. These books are a big part of me.
Have you amassed a personal library? Do you think of your books as a part of your history? Are there any special books that particularly define who you are or who you were at some past time?