This is a Good Book Thursday: What’s On Your Bookshelf?

I’ve been tossing books.  I know that seems like anathema, but I have way too many (and I left 95% of them behind when I left Ohio), thanks to my eyes I don’t read paper easily anymore, and I’d rather use the shelves for yarn.   (My iPad, however, is packed with titles.)  Still, there are books I will not throw out even though they’re falling apart.  My Pratchetts.  My ancient copies of The Uninvited and Green as Spring.  (Must read The Uninvited again to see if it holds up.)  Good Omens.  And of course a boatload of books on devils and demons and Hell, all scribbled over so now no library sale will want them.  Those will go at the end.  

Where was I?

Oh, right.  What books are permanent on your shelves, even if you’re switching to an e-library?

111 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday: What’s On Your Bookshelf?

  1. Haha. We also have all the Pratchetts. I enjoy them, but they’re even more for my husband. He reads them over and over again. That’s all he reads. And that’s not much of an exaggeration. Occasionally he’ll read something else, but mostly he rereads Pratchett. It started when he was in law school and it hasn’t stopped. He says he finds it relaxing and I say it’s just because he’s the pickiest reader in the world. I’ve learned to never, ever recommend books to him. Thanks to him, we also lots of Viking and early English historical non-fiction, sagas, etc. But they’re more to browse than read straight through.

    I’m a ruthless weeder of books. Small house, lots of moves and I’m not a big rereader. So for myself – Jane Eyre, The Blue Castle, Pride and Prejudice, A Town Like Alice (although I may never re-read it). Some poetry. Some obscure children’s and young adult books that may never get an ebook release.

    1. I love A Town Like Alice and held on to my VCR an extra 10 years because I had taped the show and couldn’t replace on DVD.

  2. Tolkien! My leather bound editions are beautiful and I will never give them up. I also have a shelf or two of Tolkien scholarship that’s greatly loved. My Easton Press red leather bound set of Austen’s novels will also go with me wherever I go. As will my complete set of Betsy-Tacy books.

    Everything else is negotiable.

    1. I tried to get rid of my hardcover LOTR trilogy that I bought in college. I mean, I DID actually get rid of it. And then a friend gave me his when he was cleaning out his office, and his were printed the year I was born, so I decided to accept that the universe meant for me to have those damn books even though I am very unlikely ever to read them again. 🙂

  3. Jane Austen
    Angela Thirkell
    Enid Blyton
    Elinor Brent-Dyer
    A few of my friends/mentors/instructors (If you know me and you write just assume you are on that list!)

    I’m not English but I had English Grandparents, in case you were wondering why the English authors.

  4. My now rather fragile set of paperbacks of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books. My godmother gave me ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ for Christmas when I was seven; I bought the others one by one with my pocket money. My aunt’s sixties paperbacks of ‘Emma’ and ‘Persuasion’. My Heyers, four of which are those I bought as a teenager.

    I do keep editing, and there’ll be another round when I move, but I always have a stock of old favourites: right now I’m nursing myself through all the stress with some Jayne Ann Krentz.

    I’ve also got a good lot of non-fiction, for inspiration. Gardening, photography, landscape history, wild flowers, design. A short shelf of cookbooks. And lots of maps – although I now also have an Ordnance Survey subscription, so can access 2.5 inch to the mile maps of the whole of Britain. But my local paper ones have almost become books: they’re annotated with notes and ideas for a book I never wrote, which may segue into a fiction project one day.

    1. I have the Narnia boxed paperback set. It was the first book purchase I can remember making with my own allowance money … was eleven or so?

  5. Cyrano de Bergerac, my all-time favorite play. I read a beat up copy of the Brian Hooker translation from my high school library before I ever saw it performed, and fell in love. It’s my favorite translation (and yes – the translation matters!), and I eventually found a used copy and bought it.

  6. Watership Down
    The Tough Guide To Fantasyland
    The Princess Bride
    The Outsiders
    Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books
    And a Superman graphic novel

  7. All of them. I CAN’T seem to let go of my lovely lovely books that I’ve had for much of my life. Though I’m trying hard to buy fewer lately and pass those on.

    Among those are my Pan Heyers from the 1970s. Which surprisingly don’t include False Colours, so after the Heyer discussion recently, I had to order it from the library (see? buying fewer!) It just arrived, so that’s what I’m reading today.

    1. I still have 2 Pan Heyers left from the winter I spent in London (1977). Since I was backpacking, I couldn’t carry many home.

  8. I am a terrible book hoarder who is looking to do better. But I have an addiction and it is library book sale season…

    I have a ‘permanent collection’ as well as a giant ‘to read’ pile.

    Physical copies of all Jennifer Crusie books, a gorgeous old Jane Eyre with wood block illustrations, Sherwood Smith I keep adding to. Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer and Anne Stuart are all collections that I want physical books for.

    I grew up treasuring my books and I just don’t think that the ready availability of Amazon has sunk into my subconscious yet.

  9. Elizabeth Peters, Amelia Peabody. I have them all, mostly first edition. But I’m getting rid of all other paper books. We are downsizing this summer to a house easily fifty percent smaller. I’ve read solely ebooks since I think 2007? I’ve repurchased all my favs in either ebooks and or audible books. Giving away what I can and reluctantly pitching the rest. Bad eyes and arthritis in my hands, thank god for my paperwhite!

    1. I had all of the Amelia Peabodys for a looooong time and finally let them go, except for the first four. The first two were two of the most expensive books I’ve ever bought. 🙂

  10. Well, my signed Crusies, of course. 🙂 Seriously, I have trouble letting go of signed books, especially from authors who are friends. Other than that, I’m trying to be good about letting go (our 5-year plan has us moving to Europe for retirement, so we’ll definitely need to jettison books, and it’s going to take me some time to get it done), and not bringing new hard copy into the house.

  11. I have an A thru Z collection of paperbacks that I absolutely will not toss. Having done it before it is painful to think of losing them. Actually these are the ones I have kept from the last purge. These babies aren’t going anywhere. There are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, Kristan Higgins, Rachel Gibson, Sandra Brown, Linda Lael Miller, Nora Roberts and really most of them I can get from the library overdrive. And I see my husband is keeping his John Sandford’s. I’m rereading Susan Elizabeth Phillips and the book I’m reading now on my Kindle, Natural Born Charmer after checking, is sitting in with the other paperbacks. The other day I had an hour to kill before leaving to go for a doctor’s appointment and started to read Natural Born Charmer, I was almost falling on the floor laughing so hard from the first chapter. Thank goodness I didn’t start reading it in the waiting room.

  12. I’m selling my house and have been downsizing, I have music I’ve hauled around, and will apparently keep on hauling around. Maybe someday I’ll actually sing the stuff. But I’ve surprised myself with what I’ve gotten rid of, mostly because I have the audio books, so I listen to my favorites instead of reading them. I do have an almost complete set of Penguin Margery Allingham Mr. Campions, which I keep because they are what I have left from a dearly loved lake house, long sold.
    I give my favorites to the library, assuming that I will be able to visit them, I’ve even given my Crusies to friends so they can enjoy them.

  13. I cannot give away books. Except for duplicates that I somehow acquire. I just think of bookshelves as decor.
    This does not explain the 7 sets of shelves in basement storage but I only take responsibility for three of those, the rest are the books we inherited when my F in law died.

    Cherished books … ones like Alice in Wonderland and Period Piece with illustrations. Many romance authors that I reread a lot. Some essayists that I reread a lot (Calvin Trillin, EB White, Anna Quinlen). And of course all the books I read to or with my kids. I’m convinced that I will have a chance to read them all to grandkids one day. Other grandmas will cook for visits (ok me too); I’ll pull books off shelves. (Yes I know, many a plan…this is an emotional conviction not a rational one.)

  14. I have book cases in every room and can not imagine getting rid of the books I love. In fact, if I read a book on the Nook that I really like, I buy the book for my library. When my children come to visit, I find them going through the book cases. I tease them that I need to check their luggage for ‘stolen ‘ books before they leave! Last year, I found them fighting over my Tolkien collection and ‘Make Way For Ducklings’ book. I made them put my books back and they were surprised with copies of their own for Christmas.

    1. When I moved, I left hundreds of books behind. You can get a lot of books in a 4000 sq ft house; not so many in a 1000 sq ft. The ones I kept were the Pratchetts and Alice and the Gilberts that hadn’t made it into e-book form, and some of the other out of prints that are never going to come back.

      1. When we downsized to a condo the only way I was able to cull my books was my iPad I use the kindle app on it By the way I have all of your books both in print and digital. So what if I have duplicates.

  15. I have kept my Agatha Christies, my Dorothy Sayers, Ellis Peters, and books that are hard to find in libraries.

    I haven’t bought any ebooks, just borrowed from the library or Prime. So far used physical copies are usually cheaper.

    I have most of the short story collections that Esther Friesner edited and all of John Moore’s comic novels. I was able to check most of them out of the paperback collection of a huge library system, but then bought used copies especially after I moved. And since many are out of print, I’m keeping them.

  16. I have several books that belonged to my mother when she was little including a group of Nancy Drew’s from the 40’s and a copy of Little Women that dates from the 30’s.

  17. I have a complex internal accounting of actual books in the house. There are books of my childhood, mostly Marguerite Henry and assorted other horse books. They stay upstairs, because whatever is there has survived multiple cellar floods and they are clearly leading a charmed existence and should not be imperiled again.

    There are all the Pratchetts in paperback, and some books the kids have declared permanent. The paperback books in the house are the trickiest, because I tend to view them as inherently impermanent: if you like them, hand them on, if you hate them, hand them on, but they don’t store well, don’t age gracefully, and are better, karmically speaking, when read. This is why we sometimes have multiple copies of Pratchett, Patricia C. Wrede, and Eva Ibbotson, to hand out to people passing through.

    My ereader though… I buy ebooks by anyone who is not a cis, white male. They get enough attention and reviews and accolades. I want the stories more diverse people are telling, particularly in SFF where I do most of my reading. I treasure all of my work from Martha Wells, Caroline Stevermer, and Elizabeth Bear, and supporting diverse authors feels really important to me.

    1. That leaves out Pratchett and Gilbert and Bradbury and Francis and Stout . . .
      I’m keeping my white-guy fiction. Some of them do really good stuff. And I’ll buy Aaronovitch when he gets his new one out, whenever that is (yes, I know, pot meet kettle).

      1. It does leave them out! I borrow them, and I read them, but I don’t OWN them in the same way, if you see what I mean? I have limited dollars, and I want so many people to keep writing, I put my dollars in places fewer people have heard of.

    2. I’m reluctant to read SF&F written by men – I’d rather read something where I can identify, even a little bit, with the main character, and contains real emotions. I read everything when I was young, and now I’m more selective.

      Having said that, there are a few that that I do read – and I’d probably read a shopping list written by Mark Lawrence. The man’s a genius. The series starting with Prince of Thorns is a master class in writing a main character who just shouldn’t work.

      1. You might also like Scott Lynch and John Scalzi – both have had more nuanced women in their books lately.

        Clearly we should compare notes on authors!

        1. Both of them have books that are already on my Goodreads to-read list, but I may move them up. Thanks!

          One reason I choose to read women authors these days is because I want to support them; there’s lots of research showing how male authors are more respected, far more likely to get reviewed – and therefore far more likely to make a living from their writing.

          The industry takes women for granted – at least I can help support them financially. One of my favourite authors – Karen Chance – struggles to make a living. I want my favourite authors to write more, so in order to do that, they need to be able to live comfortably on their royalties, and not have to find other work, which takes away from writing more books for me to read!

          1. The vast majority of writers can’t live comfortably on their royalties or advances and never have been able to. The average advance in publishing used to be $5000; it fell lower than that when the economy tanked (no idea what it is now). You know what genre is most likely to support a midlist writer (not just the top names)? Romance. Romance readers are voracious, god bless them (and you all). And romance writers are over ninety percent women.

            Publishing is just a lousy way to make money if you’re midlist (or if you’re an editor or any other job other than bestselling author). Say you get a $100,000 advance (which isn’t too damn likely these days). You get about 10% of that when you sign the contract, so 10,000, minus your agent’s commmission (which she deserves because she got you a whopping advance), so you get a check for $8,500. Anywhere from a third to a quarter of that goes into a tax hold, so you now have about $6300 on which to live until you finish the book. But maybe you had the book finished already and you turn it in right away. You’ll get maybe another $30,000 (less agent, less taxes) which comes out to about $20,000. That’s $26,000 to live on for a year because that’s how long it’s going to take them to publish your book, at which point if it’s in hardcover, you’ll get another $20,000 to hold you for the next year, until they put it into paperback when you’ll get another 20,000 for the third year. But wait, you get royalties, right? Not until you’ve earned $100,000 on your five or six or eight percent of the cover price. And if for some reason, the publisher doesn’t print enough copies for you to do that, you’ll never get royalties (but you won’t pay anything back, either). If you can write a book a year, that’s about sixty or seventy thousand a year, which is good, you can definitely live pretty well on that if you’re not in a major city on the coast, but you better be able to write a book a year, no misses, and you better be able to sell that book to a publisher, not a guarantee at any time. And remember, the average advance eight years ago was $5000, which at least doesn’t get sliced and diced like a big advance, you get that one all at once (about $3500 of it after agent and taxes). Imagine how many books you’d have to write a year at $5000. Of course, on low advances, royalties kick in, so as your back list grows, so does your yearly income, but sales fall off after the first year and publishers let books go out of print and . . . .

            Unless you write romance, chances are good you’re not going to support yourself with your writing, be you male, female, canine, whatever.

            Lots of research shows that men make more money in ALL fields–read about Hollywood salaries, for example–and are more respected; we still live in a patriarchal society. Check out Congress, but do it quick; I think the midterms are going to hit that gender imbalance pretty hard, thank you, Trump, for pissing off so many women. But that doesn’t mean I’d vote for a woman over a man strictly on the basis of gender, or go to a movie directed by and starring women just because they’re women. Am I more likely to buy books by women, go see movies by women, vote for women? Sure, they’re generally tackling stories and issues that resonate with me, much more often than men do. But I’d still rather read a Pratchett than (name redacted), watch Thor Ragnarok rather than Wonder Woman, vote for Barak Obama over Hilary Clinton.

            There are really good male writers out there, and they haven’t done anything to repress women writers (yell at the male publishers). You’re missing good stuff if you reject them just because they’re missing a vagina.

          2. Sorry for the long post. Also sorry for beating up on you for a perfectly understandable stance.
            In fairness, if somebody came on here and said, “Women are getting too much power so I’m only going to buy male authors,” I’d post the same rebuttal.

          3. Jenny, I am sorry I upset you. While I didn’t know the specifics, this fits with my general understanding of the industry.

            What I did mean to say – and I should have taken the time to write something much shorter – was something along the lines of:

            ‘and way down the list, if it helps a few more women writers survive, that’s a Good Thing.’

            When I first started reading, the vast majority of the books I read were written by men. Roger Zelazny, Alfred Bester, Heinlein, Phillip K Dick, Joe Haldeman – there were some women writers, but they were rare. This went on for decades, until I just stopped reading. I couldn’t find anything worth carving out precious space from my life. Nearly twenty years ago, one friend highly recommended a book, and another gave me a book for my birthday. They had female leads who made choices and were actual people, and I fell down the rabbit hole. It probably didn’t hurt that I had started to plan my escape from my marriage.

            I agree with you regarding Hillary and Obama, but I certainly think that Julia Gillard was streets ahead of Kevin Rudd or Bill Shorten. Throughout my career, I’ve often been the only woman in the room, the poorest paid, and first out the door when money is tight. If I can, I would love to change that for those who follow.

            Good luck with your midterms – although if it’s anything like the way it is in Australia, it’s not the voters that choose the candidates but the party machine. If you’re interested in how Australia, at least, sees the US you might like to watch Planet America:


            It’s both very funny and very insightful, with lots of interesting statistics.

            I’ll go back to buying paper books (written mostly by women, but also by men), ordering through libraries (so they buy a copy too), and not copying ebooks. What I really want is for all my favourite authors to keep writing more books.

  18. J D Robb Series
    Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
    Donna Andrews
    Terry Pratchett
    Signed Circle of Magic by Tamora Pierce
    Dragon books by Patricia Wrede
    Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Georgette Heyer, Lindsay Davis
    My children’s books including Carbonel, the ordinary princess, Howl’s moving castle, Dragonboy by Dick King-Smith, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower
    Oh and that writer I discovered thorough Harlequin … Jennifer Crusie

  19. Oh dear ! I’ve just nipped upstairs to my (cue laughter) study where I counted about 60 authors whose books I’ve been keeping “to read again”. – and often I do pick one up and become engrossed, but I suspect this is overkill;and these are just the fiction collection. Desmond Bagley to Maurice Walsh, westerns, crime, historical, scifi, romance (yes, Jenny, I have all your books), military. I have been culling recently; mainly non-fiction reference books since I find what I need online, so do have shelf space to spare. By coincidence, the latest Postscript catalogue arrived this morning……

  20. I’ve just re-read my last post. Is there a Book-buyers’ Anomymous ? “My name is Peter and I am an addict……”.

    1. I tell people that I have a book addiction. I’m sure there is a 12-step program for that, but I’d have to buy a book telling me how to work it…

  21. At its most bloated, my library was around 2000 volumes. It is now down to 800-something. The Kindle made it possible for me to divest hundreds of fiction titles that I can now get again as e-books if I absolutely, positively have to read a book again.

    Even post-Kindle, it took years to divest my collection of variously tatty Ngaio Marsh hardcovers. For one thing, it took a long time for a publisher to reissue them as e-books, and for another I just loved them. I still have a Marsh biography and her memoir in hardcover.

    I have all the Dick Francis books in hardcover US firsts, many signed. I met Mr. Francis two or three times at book-signings, wrote him a fan letter, and have a reply he wrote me. These are my most sentimental books, which I expect to outlast many if not most of my other DTBs.

    Used to have all the Laurie R. King books in hardcover. Now down to just my favorites, which all happen to be signed.

    I have all the Harry Potters in hardcover. Did give up my DVDs of the movies, because I can get them again via streaming if I want.

    Still have hundreds of art, photography, craft, and travel books … those just don’t come across as e-books IMO. But I whittle away, helped by a good flatbed scanner.

    Aside from the Kindle, my key to dealing with the book hoard was deciding “you get this much space and no more” and adopting a one-in, two-out policy. The amount of space allocated to books continues to decline. One whole bookcase is now my china cabinet, half of another holds more china & stemware & the bottle of Wild Turkey American Honey liqueur.

    This week I read Mary Jo Putney’s “Thunder & Roses” because it popped up for free. MJP at her best.

  22. The ones I will not give away are too many to count, but some are especially precious:
    Calvin Trillin
    Jenny Cruisie
    Harry Allard/ James Marshall
    The Phantom Tollbooth
    most, but not all, SEP
    Mo Willems
    many Mary Jo Putney

    1. Calvin Trillin! He wrote so many of my favorite essays. I think my favorite is the one where he discovers that his car had been broken into and damaged, and decides to put a notice on it saying that the car is unlocked so it won’t be damaged again, and then gets tangled up in the proper wording of the notice–his daughter suggests “Use words, not hands” as I remember–until he ends up not putting the notice on because he just can’t get it right. It’s such a writer problem

      1. I was just thinking the other day that running on an election platform of “not indited yet” is so apropos. I will have to dig my Calvin Trillings out.

  23. I have some childhood books that I can’t get rid of, and hardbacks by beloved authors Mary Roberts Rinehart, Georgette Heyer, Diana Gabaldon, Jennifer Crusie, Paula Gosling, Neil Gaiman, Robin McKinley, and the Odd Thomas set by Dean Koontz. The Koontz books are scary, but are also funny, and full of such sweetness. How do you not dive into a story with a lead-in like this; “Little Ozzie and Terrible Chester do not appear until after the cow explodes.” ? Odd Thomas is on my list of fictional characters I would invite to dinner. I love him so much.

    1. I also have several of Robin McKinley’s books on my permanent book shelf. One of my nieces is just now reading the Blue Sword for the first time. She told me she is sad she is more than half way through because she will be done with it soon. I was happy to reassure her that I have read it MANY times over the years and love it every time.

        1. I … might have named my first daughter Aerin. Maybe. I can’t tell you for sure because, um, internet privacy! That’s reasonable, right??

          1. Well, if you had hypothetically done so, I would totally approve. 😉

            I decided years ago that when I had girls I would name them Tarma and Kethry (after heroines in a Mercedes Lackey series). Never had kids but still love those names.

        1. Yay!! I love talking to other fans. Don’t know anyone else in RL (who I am not related to) who loves those as much as I do.

  24. Not leaving this house until I do are rose books, garden books, cook books, local history, Heyers, Crusies, Phillips, Sayers, Allinghams, Thirkells. Peters’ Vicky Bliss series and other stand-alones. Betsy-Tacy, and the Saturdays. Stouts I inherited and I’m keeping until I reread. Random Woodhouse. Lynn Kerstans, friend and neighbor who recently passed away. Books by my friend Cindy Van Rooy.

    The rest can all go. And they do, bit by bit.

    1. Oh, Austen. How can I forget Austen? And autographed books or books written by those I know in real life or – these days – online. And I’m acquiring Charlotte MacLeod, but they’re paper and will go after I’ve read them.

  25. We’ve moved three times in the last five years, so I shed a huge number of books during those shifts. It was also when I got an ipad and a kindle and started reading almost exclusively on screens instead of printed pages. And I also needed more room for the yarn than for print, since I wasn’t giving up books, just paper.

    We kept recent travel/tourist/hiking books for places we’ve been that we plan to return to. There are some knitting, quilting and related crafting books. Some of my husband’s books – he reads in Hebrew rather than English so it is hard to get novels for him.

    But other than a few stray novels that have stuck around almost accidentally, that is about it. It is a weird feeling – I used to line the walls with double stacked bookcases. And I’m a librarian. But carrying 100 novels on my tablet is just so easy, and not having to keep packing up and hauling those books is really freeing.

    1. Yes, on the yarn instead of physical books. If I could get yarn on my iPad, I would, but as it is, the books go there and the yarn goes on the shelves.

  26. I have quite a few books in my collection – as does everyone who’s responded so far. I’ve been keeping hardcovers of people I know, or at least have met, so that’s responsible for the Martha Wells, Laura Mixon, Steve Gould, John Scalzi, Tim Powers and Jim Blaylocks. But then there are all those lovely paperback sci/fi -fantasy books I have, like the Prachetts, Mary Stewart, Anne McCaffrey, etc. Perhaps one day I’ll weed those down.

    But I feel justified, a little, when a neighbor posted on our neighborhood site, asking if anyone had a copy of Harry Potter #1, so they could start the series with their child. Why yes – I did. I was able to walk it over.

    I love encouraging readers!

  27. So. Many. Books.
    Among my many keepers are all my Crusies (some in multiple forms, many of them signed due to diligent stalking), Dick Francis, Katie Fforde and Trisha Ashley (Brit romcoms), Alex Bledsoe, Jim C. Hines, Patricia Briggs, Elizabeth Moon, Donna Andrews, Katherine Center, Tamora Pierce (also many signed and in multiple editions), Patricia Wrede, Alethea Kontis, Susan Mallery, Susan Wiggs, Lois McMaster Bujold, plus a ton of nonfiction books on witchcraft and magic. Plus cookbooks.

    “Hello. I’m Deborah and I’m a book-a-holic.”

  28. All my Kelley Armstrong books (most of the Otherworld series, some Rockton, some Cainesville). Georgette Heyer’s Frederica, Talisman Ring and Devil’s Cub, No Wind of Blame; there are other books by her, some of which I still haven’t read, but those are the most important paper titles. The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett – it’s a trade paper I got in junior high that will stay with me no matter how beat up it gets. Crusie books – Faking It, Maybe This Time, Agnes and the Hitman. Origin In Death by JD Robb/Nora Roberts. Carl Hiaasen – Tourist Season and Skinny Dip. Shakespeare – Much Ado About Nothing. Austen – Pride and Prejudice.

    Since I’m at work, I’m not actually able to see my bookshelves right now, and I feel like the list would be longer if I could.

  29. Oh you addicts… I am SOOO in your club as well. I have loads of children’s books that I have loved for 60-some years, but they are all in a bookcase that’s not really that accessible. I can get to them if I need to, though.

    The books I keep closest to me are the ones I know I will re-read, some of them many times, and I have a tendency to want, and to keep, every item by that author. For me, those include Heyer, Austen, Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones, Crusie and now — darn you guys for getting me hooked! — Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga. I also have one bookcase shelf containing a number of one-off books that I adore, even though the rest by that author I can live without. Things like Good Omens (my only Gaiman), Confederacy of Dunces (well, there WERE no others), Willis’ Bellwether, Adam Rex’s The True Meaning of Smekday, and a few others. I also have multiple copies of the All Souls Trilogy, because I tend to lend or give them to people.

    I like physical books — especially paperbacks, which I find easier to take with me places or to read in bed — and have trouble imagining reading any of my favorites in e-form. It just wouldn’t be the same. An author I love feels like a treasured friend, and the characters in his or her books are a community of treasured friends. I learn stuff about them each time I re-read their books, and enjoy them every bit as much as I did the first time around.

    If I had yarn on any of my shelves I would be donating it to you guys so I could fit more books into their spot, so you’ll probably be kicking me out of your club now….

      1. Doesn’t matter. This is the Book Addicts Anonymous subgroup. Yarn enthusiasts all have the antidote, organized or dis- .

  30. Jenny, who wrote The Uninvited and Green as Spring? I can’t find any books called Green as Spring and I find several called the Uninvited. (I do have The Uninvited Guest by Gorey.)

    1. They’re both books from my childhood.

      The Uninvited is by Dorothy McCardle (also called Uneasy Freehold); it was made into a movie in 1944 which I still have not seen. I think I found the book on some relative’s shelves, and just loved it as a kid even though it’s not a kid’s book. And holy cow, it’s on Kindle: It has 4.5 out of 5 rating on Amazon just in the last two years which is pretty damn good for a book written around 1940. It’s about a brother and sister who get a great deal on country house rental and then find out why: Ghosts.

      Green as Spring is a YA from 1957 by Rosalys Haskell Hall. Incredibly dated (naturally) 50s YA romance, but I swear reading it over and over and over again as a kid gave me the voice I have today. It took me forever to find a copy as an adult; Amazon now has one used at $15 and another one at $50 for some reason. It’s about a high school girl, Franny Gay, who realizes she’s in love with her best friend, Michael, who calls her Muffin Brain. There’s an evil girl as an antagonist, but it’s mostly about the summer between her junior and senior years (I think) before Michael goes off to college. The plot is not much, but the community of Franny’s friends and Franny’s mother and father is just wonderful, and the voice is snarky without being cruel and funny without working at it: when Franny gets sick with poison ivy, her father (who adores her) tells her mother that they should have gotten the baby from Sears, they got everything else there. You can see by the picture on Amazon that it’s ancient (well, sixty years old) and probably falling apart.

      I’ve never read The Uninvited Guest, but I LOVE The Doubtful Guest, especially since the Guest reminds me so much of my old dog, Wolfie (RIP).

      1. I saw The Uninvited movie as a kid and got a crush on Gail Russell. I have fallen in vicarious love with many actresses since but she was my first. You know, this e-conversation has really made me think about how books of all sorts have been my companions through life, giving me such a range of role models as I grew up (I have only recently realised how much, in matters of personal deportment, I have drawn from Heyer’s leading men) and now have come to regard reading my many favourites as spending quality time in the company of friends.

  31. There are so many, but off the top of my head I definitely would keep the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters, all the Georgette Heyer’s, the books by Jenny Crusie, Sarah Addison Allen, Megan Whalen Turner, Tolkein, Robin McKinley, Zenna Henderson, Jane Austen, and there are so many more. Yes, I am a bookaholic too.

  32. I have owned/moved thousands over books over the years and am definitely a book addict. But this past year I have started passing on a lot of them (along with many other possessions). I’ve turned into a minimalist, including books, which is odd for me. I am reading more than ever, just really frequenting the library.

    I have found it weird but oddly freeing to own less of everything including books. (I have a Kindle but don’t read anything seriously on it. I just can’t absorb as well that way and definitely wouldn’t read my favorites on it. I hope my eyesight always allows this!)

    I have slowly been rereading all of my books and only keeping the ones I love now and can see rereading again multiple times. Some that I’ve reread this year and confirmed keeping: Crusie, random other favorites by Amanda Quick and Linda Howard, Grace Draven (as discussed last week), Jennifer Roberson’s sword dancer series, The Belgariad/Mallorean series, LoTR, a few favorite memoirs.

    And some books I haven’t reread yet but plan to keep: a shelf of children’s books that includes favorites like Nancy and Plum, several of the Cookies books by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Caddie Woodlawn, Pippie Longstocking, etc.

  33. Well, this is surprising.

    I have two full shelves of gardening books because you never know when you need to know how a particular variety of wulfenia will behave.

    And two full shelves of embroidery and needle lace books because who doesn’t need to know how to do black work or make netted lace.

    And I have six full shelves of cook books, excluding cooking magazines (I have the first issue of Fine Cooking and about 6 years worth (72 ? – I don’t think they did them every month) of “Pleasures of Cooking” which if you ever come across you should buy because about 90 percent of their recipes turn out excellent even the ones that sound bizarre.

    Then I have boxes of paperbacks organized by authors: all of Jennie’s, lots of mysteries, Jane Donnelly (a Harlequin writer who I loved 30 years ago and still enjoy), some Elsie Lee who can be dated but is sometimes fun, the early P. C. Hodgell (God Stalk is still a reread) Lois Bujold McMaster, Sharon Lee and Steve Millar Korval series (they also are Georgette fans) and a lot of early C. J, Cherryh and the complete Georgette Heyer and Sarah Caudwel and Isaac Asmiov, including his guide to Shakespeare.

    I have maybe ten or fifteen first edition hardcovers that I have tucked away in case they become collectible (After I found out what “A is for Alibi” sells for I started paying attention to first books by popular authors).

    And I have two shelves of travel books from the last 30 years because they are valuable for planning trips (Hot spots almost always stay hot) and then I can get a more modern travel guide if I actually go there.

    Good thing I have Library to Go on my laptop so I can find a book to read when I have nothing in the house.

    1. Oh and art books. I may someday need to know a particular recipe for mixing cement to make a sculpture for my back garden or how to cast plaster or make molds in either plaster or resin or rubber, or a better way to make tile or how to mix my own paints – either acrylic or oils. Or how John Singer Sargent approached painting.

      Really I need all the books.

      1. I’m with you on this, albeit with the coarser crafts. I will never part with my Shopwork on the Farm, so often my salvation when living and working in Africa and Fiji. If I couldn’t buy it, I had to make it.

      2. I’m with you on this, albeit with the coarser crafts. I will never part with my Shopwork on the Farm, so often my salvation when living and working in Africa and Fiji. If I couldn’t buy it, I had to make it.

  34. I hate e-reading, and only keep a few on my phone for waiting in line. I also dislike reading hard covers and mostly treasure paperbacks. I don’t feel so bad about breaking the spine on them so they stay open.
    I keep and reread Crusie, Steven Brust, Emma Bull, Robin McKinley’s Sunshine (my favorite book ever), Archy & Mehitabel, Neil Gaiman. And about 30 books on knitting. I weeded those ruthlessly when I packed to move and can probaby let more go.
    Speaking of which, I am finally moving everything out of storage on Tuesday. I have had no access to it for over a year. It will be interesting to see what I keep.

      1. I’m going to have to re-read it. I remember not liking it as well when I read it years ago. But my tastes have changed and with both of your enthusiasm (and enjoyment of Robin McKinley’s others) I will have to try it again.

  35. My huge New Century Deluxe Illustrated Dictionary from 1959. Any books with photos or illustrations that I love must be in hard copy. And the Arthur Ransome series with his illustrations. A ‘few’ others.

  36. On a side note: I bought ‘Fast Women’ for my Kindle and as I started to read it realized I hadn’t read it before! What a cheerful few hours. : )

    I remember reading some stuff on this blog about this book and thinking how odd that I didn’t remember any of it. Mystery solved. Can’t remember what I hadn’t read.

  37. Happy SA Freedom Day. I’m asking meself what does freedom mean to me and what must I do to ensure that I get it.

    I have all my Ladybird children’s books in hardcover.
    Some collection of tales books,
    Asterix 5 stories omnibus,
    A few Enid Blytons,
    the first romance novel I ever bought with my own money; “Point of departure” by Lindsey McKenna, my favourite philosophy books
    > The Four Agreements
    > Zen Bones, Zen Flesh
    > The Alchemist
    Nonfiction in psych and education.
    And I think 6 Jenny Crusies.

    E- books don’t count as keepers. Too intangible. And apparently (I read somewhere, source unremembered) if I die, my (our) accounts aren’t transferable and I can’t bequeath my collection to my beloveds. Screw that shit!

    1. I took over my mum’s Kindle, so I do have the books she had on it – although I haven’t read any of them yet. Not sure I’ll still have them when the Kindle dies. And, of course, you don’t actually own your ebooks – it’s more like a lease agreement, and Amazon can remove them if it wants to, I think. Plus, as technical standards change, I daresay older ebooks that aren’t reformatted to fit them will be lost.

      1. Amazon do allow you to download from their Cloud to your computer then to another device. They even have online instructions on how to do it. There are also other online guides to backing up your Kindle contents to your computer, which insulates them from Amazon’s possible interference, or is insurance against dropping your Kindle into the swimming pool !

      2. One thing you all can do if you want to hang on to your e-books is download them and then store them in another program that allows you to save them to a hard drive or flash drive. This is slightly tricky because Kindle uses a specific format which can only be read on Amazon. I have over two thousand e-books on Kindle as I’ve slowly been letting my physical books go and I’m addicted to the sale emails I get.

        You can download using the Kindle app for your computer. Then import the book file into a program like Calibre.

        The program strips the formatting from the ebook and then makes it universally readable on any e-reader or through a web browser. You can then download covers and metadata, tag your collection, and sort them as you like. It’s easy to export your books to a spreadsheet, another computer, or save to disk or USB stick. I believe you can also loan them although I’ve never done that. I’ve also imported my epub books that I get from other book services into Calibre.

        I don’t want to lose my books, certainly not before I finish reading all of them! Since I’ve paid for them, I also don’t want Amazon to decide I’m not allowed to read them again. There are privacy concerns since Amazon knows everything I buy or look at without buying, but privacy is out of the box now and I don’t think it’s going back in.

        1. This sounds an excellent way to back up your ebooks; but I presume it also allows people to pass on copies – and thereby deprive authors and publishers of income. It’s frustrating not to be able to lend or give away ebooks, but of course the problem it that you can make an infinite number of perfect copies of an ebook, whereas a paperback’s bound to be lost or to fall apart eventually.

          In my experience (as a photographer) most people haven’t a clue about copyright. I remember a well-off aquaintance being indignant that buying the ebook I published about a garden I made, for £4.99, didn’t give her the right to use the 300 photographs in it to make greetings cards or whatever else she fancied. (Of course, in reality I couldn’t stop her, but I was taken aback to realize readers would think they had a right to reuse the content of my book.)

          1. Yes, I know what you’re saying, Jane. I teach at a small college and fair use is something that comes up often. The law has not really kept up with the technology and intellectual property has always been the very difficult to protect.

            Making a backup copy of an ebook is considered within fair use as long as it stays on your computer although the big media conglomerates are fighting that with everything they can. To distribute that copy for profit is as much against the law as walking into a bookstore and shoplifting a book. We have to trust people at some point to obey the law and social norms.

            I’ve purchased all my books and it’s far too easy for Amazon or Apple or anyone to use software code to erase or revise my books. That’s not a scenario that’s acceptable to me, so I have backups.

            I can’t buy physical books like I used to. I’m getting older, they are too difficult to read, and I’m not moving and storing them anymore. I don’t have a solution for digital rights except to continue to support authors I enjoy by purchasing their books in a format that works for me.

            I first looked into this when I switched Amazon accounts about five years ago from a spousal joint account and discovered I could no longer access my purchased books on kindle. Amazon offered me a 100.00 credit for what was at the time about 300 books. It was then I realized I only purchased the right to have those books on my e-reader under certain conditions and I didn’t really “own” them.

          2. People do that anyway. Copies of my books are pirated all over the net because people think if they’ve bought it, they have the right to share it. And it’s true, if you’ve bought a physical copy of my book, you can loan it or give it away no problem. It’s when you REPRINT the damn thing that you’re copying it without a right to copy, aka copyright. That’s what the woman did with Jane’s photos; she had the right to own one copy of them, she did not have the right to copy them herself.

            Makes me crazy.

        2. Calibre is awesome.

          The part that really annoys me about e-books, isn’t just the possibility for purchased books to be no longer available (although that’s a factor) it’s that it stops you from moving to a different device if you want to.

          Apple only support iBooks on Apple devices – so if I want to read a book on my Windows laptop, I can’t. The Kindle app for Windows is pretty woeful and so I can’t use that either. I can, use the Calibre e-reader, which isn’t perfect but it’s better than the other options.

          I use Calibre to move my purchased books from device to device so I can read on whatever device I want to.

          I then use a combination of iBooks or Kindle or Calibre on my other devices depending on which one I’m using.

          1. Good point! I’m making a note of Cassandra’s and your advice, and hopefully will get round to backing up my keepers in this way. Thank you.

  38. Over the years I have weeded out many, and only once was sorry (after my mother died I read all her Brother Cadfiel books and then got rid of them…. years later DH got interested, and we ended up buying them all again.)

    I keep things that I want to lend, or that I collected all of in paper before the days of kindles, so all the Rex Stout, all the Dick Francis, all the Dell Shannon, all the Louis L’Amour (once you start, you can’t stop), Judith Merkle Reilly (would that there were more), Kathleen Gilles Seidel (ditto), Lois McMaster Bujold, Jennifer Crusie, Georgette regencies (on my second copy of many of these). Then various other stuff – lots of Jayne Anne by whatever name, Mary Stewart and Elsie Lee, etc. I think the only newish author I do in paperback in CS Harris St Cyr series, because of sharing.

  39. I have moved a lot so I ended up with mostly paperbacks. Ones I rebuy
    Manning Coles
    D. E. Stevenson
    Neville Shute
    Patricia Wentworth
    Agatha Christie
    As you can see I keep the out of print books

    Thanks to all for Lois McMaster Bujold an author I am now collecting.

  40. P C Hodgell’s God Stalk and Dark of the Moon, and Janet Kagen’s Hellspark (one of my absolute favorites – a tragedy she passed so young). I have no Crusie’s – because I have read them so much they have all fallen apart so have everyone of them on Kindle AND audible that are available. Maybe a little bit of a fan 🙂 .

    I have fully embraced technology when it comes to books – love Kindle and audible.

  41. I have hardly embraced Kindle tech at all – I use it for a few books that I can’t get in hard copy, but otherwise it’s just not comforting the way real books are. My keepers (and the ones I reread) are:
    Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley, Lois Bujold, Ursula leGuin, Frances Hardinge, Barbara Hambly’s fantasies, Elizabeth Moon’s space operas, Patrick O’Brian’s glorious sea-faring series, Diana Norman (also writing as Ariana Franklin), Virkram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, a few tattered copies of Joan Aiken’s and Leon Garfield’s kids’ books – and countless others. But these are my favourites.

  42. This morning I thought of a further facet to choosing which books to let go. I have some books, usually singleton, that I would love to give away but only to a good home as it were. A random example is my 1947 Penguin autobiography “Looking for a Bluebird” by Joseph Wechsberg, a Czech who had an extremely colourful life overall, but in this book concentrated on the 1920s and 30s when he was a jobbing musician, ranging over most of Europe. He calls up a vanished world of cafe society, opera, ocean liners, aristocrats – all vanishing with the onset of WWII. It is worth reading for the chapter alone in which the opera house claque is engaged to influence the prize-awarding at a Concours d’Elegance. How this played out is laugh out loud funny but the whole idea of a beauty contest for autos now seems bizarre.
    I wonder if I can find a local music student interested in social history ? Or the other way round ?

    1. Peter. There are still Concours d’Elegance. I have been to the one in Forest Grove, OR many different years. And there are others. A fun way to see a lot of expensive and antique cars in absolutely immaculate condition.

  43. Referring to the ownership of e books; is this true for Nook, does anyone know? I know I can download my nook books to my laptop. I don’t know if I can transfer them to a separate email that is also mine .

    1. I know nothing about Nook, but I’d be very surprised if they don’t apply DRM (digital rights management) like Amazon. Most authors would be unhappy to publish their books without it.

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