Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book extravaganza!!

There's nothing like a good book. I will admit that I am a bit of a book hoarder. Our bookshelves are full of a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction, but there are two subjects that dominate the non-fiction shelves: cookbooks and "outdoors" books. The outdoors books cover gardening, homesteading and home building, most of the Foxfire series, field guides of all sorts, and natural history and nature-related books.

I love the public library, and I have no problem borrowing books from it, but some books I feel I must just own. Books I think I might need to reference at some point. Books I think or know I would want to write in. Books that I will read over and over. You get the picture.

Needless to say, I was very excited when my most recent Amazon order arrived bearing more books for my collection. I had had my eye on one of them for a few months, but those wily folks at Amazon and their "Customers who bought this item also bought" list showed me a few other books that piqued my interest. I mean, The Singing Life of Birds - how could I pass that up?

The problem is, I've got a bazillion other books that I've purchased in the last 6-8 months along the same lines that I still haven't finished, or even started for that matter. Last Child in the Woods (Richard Louv). Silent Spring (Rachel Carson). Cuckoos, Cowbirds and Other Cheats (N.B. Davies). One book I did manage to finish recently is Scott Weidensaul's Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding. The book taught me a lot and made me reflect more deeply on the different aspects of the growing hobby of birding.

When it comes down to it, these books are in my personal library to help me increase my knowledge base, be it of the natural world or in the kitchen. If I can interpret a habitat and know what grows there and why and who benefits from the flora, or if I can know what to use as a substitution when I run out of milk for that muffin I'm making, then those books made a difference. In their own way they opened up my world view just a little bit more.

What about you - what are you reading these days? What's your favorite work of fiction? Non-fiction? How many books do you own that are still waiting to be read? (Please tell me I'm not alone in this situation!)


Richard King said...

Hey you're not alone Heather. I have not fully read about 25% (probably more) of my books. They just sit there, till one day I just decide to read it. I love Venice in Italy and have a book (about 15 years now)called 'The History of Venice', great wonderful book, well written, but 2 inches thick. I will finish it before I die!

Monika said...

Heather, you are definitely not alone! I am not a big shopper, nor do I like holding onto a lot of possessions, but books are the exception to both of those. I, too, have a long list of books yet to be read - both fiction and natural world non-fiction. Even though it may be a while until I get to them all, I take great pleasure in seeing them on my bookshelves! There's nothing as exciting as adding to the collection, either. And all those various field guides do come in handy, because surely one of them will have the little piece of info I need to identify this bird/mammal/flower/mushroom/insect!

Shelley said...

So glad I am not the only book hoarder - LOL! I always gravitate toward nature writers, bird books, animal stories and travel essays.

Heather said...

Whew! Thanks Richard, Monika and Shelley for letting me know I'm not alone in this "habit!"

Richard - Good luck with your History of Venice book. It must be fascinating. At least with a book like that you can read about different periods of time whenever you want to - while meant to be read chronologically, you could jump around to any period you want and not be missing anything by not having read other parts.

Monika - I know what you mean about taking pleasure in seeing them on the shelves (although lately, I also see them on the dining room table, on the end table, on another end table, on my nightstand, etc)!

Shelley - I like travel essays, too. That's one category that I don't own from though - those I have managed to just borrow from the library. ;)

RuthieJ said...

I mostly read fiction (almost done with "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt") and knitting patterns. I use the recommendations from Amazon and Doubleday Book Club to reserve books from my public library and right now there are 4 unread books on that stack!

Steve Willson said...

I think it's strange when I go to someone's house and they don't have books all over the place. I keep a box of books in the car to read when I go somewhere and have to sit and wait.

I measure my books by how many feet of book shelf they consume. I'm a sucker for flora/fauna identification guides and have 10 feet worth in a bookcase beside my desk. My Science Fiction paperback collection stretches for almost 80 feet. Misc non-fiction goes to about 120 feet. I anxiously await the next release of the Treasury of Peanuts collection.

There are some I haven't yet read and others I've read many times. When I read a book, I put the date inside the front cover, so I won't pick it up again and get it half read before I realize I've read it before. The number of dates indicates how much I liked the book. Sometimes I don't include all the dates of multiple reads. I have this vision of my kids looking through the books after I die and saying something like, "Do you believe that Daddy read Dragon Singer 14 times?"

Keep up the book collecting.

Meg said...

I think that real book lovers always have a million books that they HAVEN'T read yet...
I am on a fiction spree right now, currently on The Moonflower Vine--a "rediscovered classic," by Jetta Carleton. It is about a family growing up on a farm in Missouri in the early sixties. I like it. My tastes are wildly eclectic. I'm always thinking I should try to read more deliberately, but then I visit a bookstore and all bets are off. I hope you share your discoveries as you read through your stack!

Heather said...

Ruthie - I had no doubt that knitting books/patterns would be high on your list. Good idea about using the Amazon recommendations to build your library list!

Steve - Wow, it sounds like you have quite an impressive collection! I used to put the date inside the front cover of books when I was a kid, but I'm not so much in the habit of reading books multiple times as I was when I was a young'un. Thanks for the inspiration!

Meg - I like the sound of the title The Moonflower Vine. You say a "rediscovered classic," which leads me to believe you have read it before. I haven't been to a bookstore for a while, and I try to go in with something specific in mind or I'll blow my entire paycheck. That tactic works well in the bookstores here in Athens, but if I go to Borders or someplace HUGE like that.... that's scary stuff right there. Scary and FUN! I do hope to share some of the books in my pile and the insights they have brought forth.

KaHolly said...

It comes with the territory, Heather. My bookshelves look much the same! And I just love it! ~karen

Heather said...

Karen - I am slowly learning to accept my book addiction, and I am so glad to know that I'm not alone!

Trish in Pickerington said...

Thanks to the Columbus Museum of Art's book club, I just finished "A Stopover in Venice," which is a wonderfully creative look back at the great period of Venetian painters (Titian and Giogione), as well as evoking the present-day atmosphere of Venice, and a feminist twist.

Still waiting to be read: Rogues' Gallery, The Venus Fixers, Meet You in Hell (all with an art connection, truly).

My guilty pleasure that gets in the way of tackling reasonably serious books is Georgette Heyer, who cannot be equalled for Regency slang and fashion, not to mention a wicked sense of humor.