Friday, March 22, 2019

Personal libraries

Some of my books
Joseph Epstein: On two separate occasions I radically cut back my personal library, lest it take over my apartment. Each time, like the detached tail of the iguana, it grew back. No matter my efforts at literary population control, my books seemed relentlessly to multiply. ....

Micah Mattix: I can’t remember when I first started keeping books. I was not an insatiable reader growing up, but I held on to my Narnia and Hardy Boys for a while — I can see them now on the inset shelf in my childhood bedroom — until I either gave them away or lost them. Of Mice and Men was an early favorite, but my original copy of that is gone, too.

I suppose I first started consciously collecting books my first or second year in college, when I decided not to sell back my course texts at the end of the semester. ....

Otto Penzler: .... I quickly concede that the books I chose to collect are relatively frivolous, but mystery fiction has produced extraordinarily poetic prose while turning a spotlight on the world as it was when the works were published. ....

I started to collect right after college, so it adds up to 55 years of what soon became obsessive behavior. I’d read virtually no detective stories as a youngster but at 20 started with The Complete Sherlock Holmes (which should be required reading in every high school in America), and then moved on to the puzzles designed by Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, and their devious compatriots. When introduced to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, I realized that there were crime writers who deserved to be taken seriously as literary figures. ....

Terry Teachout: Because I keep books that I find rereadable, I usually own several books per author. One shelf is devoted to M.F.K. Fisher, John P. Marquand, and Anthony Powell, while another bulges with Evelyn Waugh and Max Beerbohm. My literary taste is moderately Anglophilic: Kingsley Amis, Somerset Maugham, Barbara Pym, and P.G. Wodehouse all take up plenty of space on the shelves.... (more, possibly behind a paywall)

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