November 9th, 2011

bad books


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