In the Spirit of Orwell, I’ve deleted the content of the page that was here until August 21, 2021, and growing short on patience if not time will offer just a handful of observations on the ownership of a working personal library.
Library Space & Reading Time
My library contains about 3,000 volumes, and given my advancing age will not be reading back through it. Nonetheless, I have my old Hardy Boys books still with me (top shelf on a wing near the ceiling at the entry to the apartment) and as soon as it’s out will have the latest posthumously published from John le Carré. In the days before broadband, I may have laid claim to having read some 80 to 90 percent of the holdings (all readers have bought a few volumes set aside), but the percentage has gone down with income supporting enthusiasm in Japanese Tsundoku style. For better or worse, I have filled 20 72-inch tall bookcases plus four eight-foot long boards that I call “wings” that have been wall mounted on studs beneath the ceiling headers). Add to what’s visible nine boxes of cataloged “unreads” and a few book bags full of surprises.
Perhaps the experience, formula, or rule is universal: the closer to death ageing naturally brings us, the more there is at hand to look forward to.
In any case, should I ever get it into a house, I should like to have the whole collection in one room or continuously spanning one serious load bearing wall. Here in the apartment they’re arrayed over the studs (and favoring the load-bearing wall), one to three bookcases at a time.
So far, so good.
While I use a Kindle and continue purchasing volumes for it, I quite a few years ago reverted to collecting hardcovers, and they are every one of them a prize.
Alas, I’ve learned also that given the choice between blogging (and reading to do it) and that of filling out 3×5 cards in Chicago fashion, I’ve little affection for being my own librarian in the circumstances as given.
The page is just one-half page of basic bibliography.
The library contains more volumes than listed in the linked section noted and covers the formation of Russia through the end of the Cold War. I’ve noticed however that much related to Moscow’s political bents and habits floats around the apartment with Orwell in one place and works by Agnia Grigas (energy guru), Masha Gessen (Putin critic) and so many others with other but Moscow-related themes given shelf space elsewhere.
The Idea of the “Oppenheim Library”
Were the collection valued publicly or in some corporate manner and removed to its own space, it would then be cataloged and probably found useful by fiction writers and political science wonks alike, but given Amazon, the low price of used books (more or less although there are many “collectible” and “very good” volumes here), and the character of the best college and university collections . . . well, the whole for now remains a writer’s private (and very good) library.
# # #