The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Small Wonders And Big Surprises

Posted by BigWords on October 8, 2010

It was only when I was boxing up all my books (again) that I realized there were a few titles I didn’t realize I actually had. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has seen my collection, but it made me think that Goodreads (or something similar) may actually have practical benefits for those of us unable to curb our spending habits. Most of the problem resides in the difficulty getting adequate storage has always proven. Once you hit the critical factor – maybe a thousand or so books – then some will unquestionably slip through the layer of immediate recognition. I’m not saying I have too many books, because a person can never have too many books, but I do need a list of some sort to identify which titles I have already bought, and which I have no need to go buy again. This happens more often than I would really like. All the time, actually.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m buying merely because I need to buy something, rather than buying because something is calling out to me. This, especially with all the numerous other things I desperately need to spend money on, has had a strange effect on what I have been buying. Roger Highfield’s The Science Of Harry Potter and Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli – my two latest purchases – were bought mainly so I could stretch out the Harry Potter section of my non-bookshelf-bookshelf (with everything being in boxes, talk of a physical bookshelf seems redundant at best), and I’ve been pondering ways to use the space I will have when I get the house fixed up. A library seems a good way to go, but all the dedicated book rooms I have seen over the years always strike me as harkening back to a Victorian philosophy of design which doesn’t appeal.

The solution to storage will probably come to me later, but in the meantime I am going through each box in order, and writing down – for the first time ever – which books I have in my collection. There are a lot, so this may take some time. Hopefully this activity will result in me never buying another copy of the Twilight Zone novelization – a perennial problem which I’ve never quite let sink into my brain… Although I did see the Halloween novelization a couple of days ago, and I haven’t come across that particular book yet – maybe there really is no hope for me after all. Just to show how truly random and eccentric my collection is, I thought it would be cool therapeutic to list the contents of one box at random. I wish there were more intellectual titles on display, but the box contains what the box contains, and pretending that the box contains a highbrow range is to defeat the purpose of such lists.

Approaching Oblivion by Harlan Ellison
Black Ajax by George MacDonald Fraser
Bogart by A.M. Sperber & Eric Lax
Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
Bruce Lee – Fighting Spirit by Bruce Thomas
Chambers XWD – Dictionary Of Crossword Abbreviations by Michael Kindred & Derrick Knight
The Chemistry Of Death by Simon Beckett
The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont
The Devil’s Bones by Jefferson Bass
Dirty Harry by Phillip Rock
The Domain Of Devils by Eric Maple
The Encyclopedia Of Japanese Pop Culture by Mark Schilling
Film Facts by Patrick Robertson (both editions, for some reason)
Future Perfect: How Star Trek Conquered The World by Jeff Greenwald
I Shudder At Your Touch edited by Michele Slung
Infected by Scott Sigler
James Stewart – Behing The Scenes Of A Wonderful Life by Lawrence J. Quirk
Love All The People by Bill Hicks
The Man Who Ate The World by Frederik Pohl
The Microsoft Way by Randall E. Strass
The New Science Of Strong Materials by J.E. Gordon
Odd And The Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs
The State Of The Art by Iain M. Banks
Superhuman by Matt Whyman
Taboo: Sex And Morality Around The World by Armand Denis
Use Of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
Wargames by David Bischoff
Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden
Young Kate by Christopher Andersen

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9 Responses to “Small Wonders And Big Surprises”

  1. Jamie D. said

    Been there, done that. Several years back I created a database for my library…but now I’ve switched to using Goodreads (when Dolly issued her yearly reading challenge). Nice thing about GR (or most online libraries) is that the data can be exported, and then put into a personal database if desired.

    And here I thought my collection was eclectic…think you’ve got me beat by miles in the literary department though. 😉

    • bigwords88 said

      It’s wildly eclectic, but most of the books were bought in phases – a biography phase, an SF one, a film one. I go through periods where I invest a large amount of time into one niche area, then move on to the next. Part of the OCD thing, I guess.

  2. LS Murphy said

    Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture? That actually sounds kinda cool. I figured out how to curb my spending at the bookstore. I use the library more and more. It helps. A little. 🙂

    • bigwords88 said

      The only drawback with getting books out of the library is that I make notes which refer to the book (page # and spot info) with the intention of exploring a subject in more detail. To refer back to the book later, if borrowed from a library, would mean I have to get it out again. And I like having books around. 😀

  3. […] It was only when I was boxing up all my books (again) that I realized there were a few titles I didn't realize I actually had. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has seen my collection, but it made me think that Goodreads (or something similar) may actually have practical benefits for those of us unable to curb our spending habits. Most of the problem resides in the difficulty getting adequate storage has always proven. Once you hit the crit … Read More […]

  4. “Chambers XWD – Dictionary Of Crossword Abbreviations”

    Was that a random purchase or are you a crossword afficionado?

  5. bigwords88 said

    It was very much a deliberate purchase. Knowing how to encode things into words and phrases is essential to getting things into stories without getting a storm of abuse from people who know exactly what I’m referring to. There is precedent

  6. Beth said

    Ah, eclectic book collections are the best. I definitely go through my obsessive book purchasing phases as well. Every few years I have to go through a major book purging–selling at yard sales and donating to libraries. I just don’t have the space…

  7. bigwords88 said

    Even though the collection is now spread across three locations, I don’t really get rid of books. Duplicates, worn copies and a handful of paperbacks are all that has gone in recent years… Obsessive much? Probably. 🙂

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