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A LIBRARY IS NOT A LUXURY BUT A NECESSITY OF LIFE*
Out of curiosity, a few minutes ago, I checked the Excel sheet I use to keep track of my Library (wittily titled Library.xls) to see approximately how many books I currently have, and why yes! I DO keep an Excel sheet that lists all of my books. This surprises you? My Library spreadsheet lists all my books in order by author's last name, and includes titles, whether or not they are paperback or hardcover, what genre they fall into, and what country they were published in. God knows why I thought I needed that last column.

I faithfully add new books every time I buy one, after they arrive at home, and before they are added to the shelf that holds all the books I haven't read yet. I'm not so anal-retentive obsessive good about REMOVING books that I toss into the Media Sale bag after reading and deciding that it wasn't a keeper, though I'm trying to be better about it, because man, I have a LOT of books.

The reason why I first created this inventory of my books was because when we moved to Sweden, Tetra Pak, my husband's company, paid for the move...because Anders had moved to the States on an international contract and part of his contract required them to pay for his return home; only he had met and married me and all my books in the meantime. Tetra Pak required an inventory of EVERYTHING we owned. EVERYTHING. If I remember correctly, we had around 2000 books when we moved here, but at least a couple of shelves worth were Anders'.

Several of them were books he had never read, most of them coming from some Swedish book-of-the-month club that apparently every Swede his age belonged to at one time or another, judging by the fact that I've seen many of the SAME un-read hardcover, dust-jacketed books in other people's homes since we moved here. I managed to get rid of a lot of them, over time, figuring that we'd never need that copy of Michael Crichton's Congo or Betty Mahmoody's Not Without My Daughter (rly?), but he still has a pile that he won't let me purge.

I, however, kept buying books. Pretty soon, I was having to stack books horizontally and double-stack them and even put new rows in front of the ones in the back. After we started hosting the annual AWC media sale, however, I began bagging books that I didn't see myself ever wanting to read again, immediately after I finished them. And every time I get the urge to purge, I can usually manage to fill a paper grocery bag with books, especially if I remove outgrown stuff from the kids' bookcases. Goodness knows how many books I have bought and given away over the years. It doesn't really bear thinking on, other than hoping that whoever ended up with them enjoyed them (not all of them were duds, by any means).

The reason why I maintain this inventory, to this day, is because I have often found myself buying another copy of a book I already own, because I don't remember that I already have it. Even with a books-to-buy list, I sometimes find myself at a bookstore dithering over a book by a favorite author and calling someone at home to check my list to see if I already have it. It's a MONEY-SAVING DEVICE. The vast majority of my books are in paperback (1591 versus a measly 222 hardcover), and SciFi/Fantasy dominates heavily, though Fiction & Historical Fiction are catching up these days.

According to my spreadsheet, give or take a couple of mysteriously missing titles, I have 1817 books listed (this is not including the books that belong to the children...I have a spreadsheet for them too, but I am not very good about maintaining it, plus they buy books when I'm not looking). We have 14 bookcases of various sizes in the house, plus a shelf of cookbooks in the kitchen. They are all pretty much crammed to bursting.

Yesterday at dinner, I mentioned that I was thinking of retiring the fish tank once the fish have all...uh, swum on to cleaner waters. Since we still have 8 fish, and aquarium fish can live a surprisingly long time if they don't get sick, it could be a while, but still. I'm kind of tired of the maintenance on the fish tank...and even if they ARE the only pets we can have at the moment (since birds, rodents and reptiles are ruled OUT and dogs & cats are not an option), I thought maybe it was time for a change.

"But, but, it will look so dumb just sitting there empty!" protested Karin. "Well, we can put all the stuff in the attic and if we get the urge someday to have fish again, we just have to haul it all back down," I said.

"But, but, but the whole ROOM will look empty," she continued.

"I thought of that already! I could put a bookcase there," I said craftily. My entire family, all 3 of them, turned and gave me the hairy eyeball.

Curses, foiled again.

*Title paraphrased from a quote by Henry Ward Beecher
 impressed
mood: impressed
music: T'Pau—Heart & Soul


Comments

Haha! We could use a better fish tank... just sayin ;)

I seriously have to take a better look around your house because it is such a neat and uncluttered place and I have come to the conclusion that one of the solutions to our clutter-problems is less books. But I don't want less books! Apparently you have managed to solve this problem somehow.

Annual media sale? So how does one actually join the AWC anyway? Seriously, it's about time.

You simply go to www.awcmalmo.com and fill out the registration form under Club/Membership, and then I call you and give you some info and activate you, and you pay the membership dues :) Easy peasy!

Ha!

Also, the Swedish book club they all must have belonged to, I think you've just found the source for all the books that line the bookshelves in every IKEA I've ever been too.

Ha! Probably true. :D They buy droves of them in the used bookstores and make their home settings look REAL :D

Bonniers bokklubb? I've been a member for like 15 years! LOL!

Wow so many books! I have to get rid off books now and then since my shelves get full. Since I only have a studio apartment I simply have to, can't keep all books. Must throw away once or twice a year... It breaks my heart everytime but with limited space I have no other choice. :(

Haha just love the way you write. I can just see their faces when you suggest a new book shelf instead of the fish tank. You got it all figured out! LOL!

Haa! Probably. Anders said they used to have these deals where you got a couple of books free if you got the book of the month...and the book of the month was always crap, but one others would make it worth it to go ahead with the offer.

why are reptiles ruled out?
and what about amphibians, snails, insects or spiders?
:P

No reptiles because they eat live food. Amphibs and insects need a tank, too: same issue. And hello: SPIDERS? Have you MET ME? :D *shudder*

From Megsie

I would much rather have a bookcase compared to a fish tank!

I wonder how many books I have...hmmm.

NOT ENOUGH!

Re: From Megsie

NEVER ENOUGH! :D

I should have done this years ago! One of my pupils interviewed me about reading-habits the other day (for a project) and asked how many books I had. I said "Oh, at least 200", but in truth I have NO IDEA. Our bookshelf-space is practically non-existent, and so all the read books get put in boxes and usually end up in the loft/attic. A data-base would be a great plan, but I feel it's almost too late to do this now!

Six people x 10 years in the house... That's lots!

It's never too late. It's just a lot of work in the beginning to get them all into the database. After that, it's just upkeep. And 6x10: WHOA!

This used to be me! But now I read electronically and I have sold 2/3 of the books that I had and it feels SO GOOD, even while I am still shocked to consider my house without all of my most special things. I'm going to get rid of even more next time I start sorting things. So, I totally understand trying to sneak another bookcase in! Good luck with that. :)

Even though intellectually I would like to start reading electronically, emotionally I haven't yet been able to make the break. I LOVE books. Physical paper & print books that smell like books. Mmmmm books!

Love this post. I am a librarian and we have an access db I designed for this purpose. And also, we had to do the stupid inventory twice for overseas moves. I remember at that point our most expensive item was our CD collection (also meticulously cataloged, now non-existent) and our Stearns and Foster mattress. LOL.

My CD collection is also meticulously cataloged, but still in existence, as I haven't gotten to the point of moving everything to the computer.

(Anonymous)

Sounds so familiar! The kids' books are now threatening to take over our bookshelves, so I'm currently eyeing the walls above our wardrobes to see if a moving ladder and well secured bookshelves might make those spaces possible for books. Do you have any tips for fitting in more shelves?

julia@kolo

Install them when no one else is home, so they can't stop you!

You are cute cute cute cute CUTE!

That's better than OCD OCD OCD! :D

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