Library

My library contains about 2,000 volumes.

Should I ever get it into a house (life’s not looking so good for that at the moment), I should like to have it in one room or continuously spanning one serious load bearing wall.  Here in the apartment they’re arrayed over the studs, one to three bookcases at a time along sections of wall.

So far, so good.

I’ve gone to Kindle, which is not bad for curiosity but awfully bad for the disposition of even a small (the smallest) estate in books, and I may revert to collecting hardcovers.

While I mull that, I thought I would share here with readers a portion of what’s been imported in areas relevant to light commentary on politics.  Were the funds available, say through a big fat fairy tale of a grant (but maybe there are angels), I would have an assistant work up cards and key them for a while.  As it is, if I add a few volumes a week, just a couple at a time, that might do as well.

While items listed are here, not everything listed has been read (the infamous  “RAT” is still sitting stealthily on a speaker cabinet beside the television), and not everything read has been remembered; however, I have out of necessity become more careful about quality time with books, the distractions posed by the Internet, especially Facebook, having become so fragmenting and time consuming.

In fact, I have here the habits of a way of life, but it’s a scrambling and scrapping information-bound way of life, shifting gears always between the academic and the personal, the chatyping session on the social network and the research-and-typing session that turns out a post, and the concerns of an author (would-be, wannabe, maybe is) and those of the guy who lives in “real space” after all.  Apart from the nifty act of hauling a cogent quote onto a blog or into online chat, I’ve always found reading among the most calming and focusing of activities.

With a library in the home — not a lonesome bookcase in the squire’s office but rather 20 bookcases packed and packed along from grade school to graduate school (and sprinkled with inheritance: my father’s Durant and Le Carre collections are here, for example) and assembled for a dime on the dollar from thrift shops — it’s good not to always have too much burden in the way of other distractions and indulgences.

There’s not too much on the page as I type here this Tuesday afternoon in late January, only mention of five volumes, but there’s more where they came from.

Update November 21, 2014

I’ve hacked away at this librarian thing now and then over years and have finally settled for a while on the method that consists of filling out 3×5 cards, Chicago style, keeping them in alphabetical order, and entering the same on to a list:

Alpha by Author

I’m going to leave this page alone with the sections below as published years ago, but the library is much, much larger in within-division richness and scope.  At some point, the major sections (like the “Russian Section” today) will be presented as separate subpages.

Typing here as a perhaps misplaced person, my library is my refuge, a galaxy within my universe, the content of which lends flavor and influence to the development of this blog.  In that most reading leaves impression but not detail in mind — the decay rate tails out after a few years and one claiming intimacy with a volume may have to refresh the experience by reading it again — it’s impossible to say how much of what remains with the writer while he’s writing.  In some ways, it’s all here all the time; in other ways, a writer, if he’s going to be a good one, sets off into new territory with every first sentence.

Update December 8, 2014

While physical 3×5 cards anchor my library’s inventory, this blog now supports the listings as electronic data.  Updates and improvements: “R” = “Read”; “UR” = “Unread”; and I’m starting to add category tags to the tails of citations, which should make page-searching “Alpha by Author” rewarding as the number of entries climb and discrete categorization becomes fuzzy.

In real space, as I fill out cards by first pulling volumes together that might fit a category, I also create shelf space for the same.  The physical clumping may come out looking like Dewey’s, but for searching up books at home, the library is years away from having the order of an institutional element.

There had been a short listing of volumes beneath this verbiage, and that has been removed.  “Alpha by Author” contains records of all cards created, a process still in its infancy, and logical compilations of titles in sections has been coming along beside those entries.

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