Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Book Count

I don't have my father's hoarding gene(s), except when it comes to books. Because they're all versions of the same thing, in a sense, my mind discounts them as clutter in quite the same way a bunch of different objects can be.



I know this stance is not totally logical.

Comic by Tom Gauld

My other half razzes me about my books, and a week or so ago he took it upon himself to do a count of all the books in our house. He ran a tally shelf by shelf by room, and that meant I could come up with a pretty good estimate of how many are his and how many are mine, since our books are relatively separate in terms of topic and therefore location. In the areas where they aren't separated, I've guessed a percentage for each of us.

Well, it turned out he has almost as many books as I do, but either's a lot.

2,266 his
2,419 mine
Total: 4,685

That does include a pile of about 80 books that we've already set aside with the intent to give them away or sell them, but covid has delayed us. (I think we're saving them until our nearby library can once again have its annual used book sale.)

What do you think, is 4,685 too many books? Of course, I would say that my stockpile is maybe a little high but generally about right, while his may be overladen. 

Here's the way I have my books organized, with subcounts.

  • 500 nonfiction, including some graduate and undergraduate book... many topics
  • 285 YA/juvenile general fiction
  • 59 YA/juvenile science fiction
  • 115 YA/juvenile fantasy
  • 75 YA/juvenile historical fiction
  • 145 general adult fiction (includes mysteries, since I don't read many of those, and historical fiction)
  • 350 adult science fiction
  • 86 adult fantasy
  • 155 children's picture books
  • 100 gardening
  • 50 art and printing
  • 70 graphic novels or comic collections
  • 40 climate crisis and transportation/livable cities
  • 145 fiction of all types that I haven't read 
  • 175 nonfiction I haven't read

That big nonfiction set at the top of the list is in several different bookcases, mostly based on when the books were acquired (newer ones are in the living room), though it's also split up somewhat by topic. Are you surprised that my system is idiosyncratic? 

Note that I've rounded the numbers a bit so this bulleted list doesn't exactly total to the overall count above. And my categorization isn't always perfect, either.

And yes, that's a lot of books I haven't read yet, I'm aware.


Tom Gauld has a number of other comics about books and book shops. Some with cats.


Jean said...

Ooo, a fascinating but time-consuming project! I have never counted my books and am kind of afraid to try. There are definitely thousands, but is it more like 2000 or 4000 or what? The other half (as you say) has some books -- several shelves' worth -- but mine are by far the majority. My TBR pile seems to have between 200-300 books, so I guess I can't criticize yours either.

I would say that I do, in fact, have too many books...but I need to read them before I get rid of the ones that should go. So that's not too useful. A major problem is that every week, I help to sort the donated books at the public library (of course that was on hold, but we're going back to weekly booksales next week and we're inundated with donations that everybody has saved up for the last 18 months). This pretty much means that I can have as many free books as I want. I usually take them back once I've read them, but they come home faster than I can read them. Even 18 months off has not cleared up the pile. (And that's not even counting the unusable books I bring home to make art with!)

Michael Leddy said...

I’ve never counted. Now I think I may have to.

I’ve given away or sold many, many books, and have bought more books right after selling others. The funny thing: I’ve never missed a gone book once it’s gone.

Daughter Number Three said...

That sounds like a dangerous place to volunteer, Jean... not covid dangerous, but book dangerous.

Michael, I have missed a few books after selling or donating, but right now I can't remember the example(s), so that probably tells you something. I think did reacquire one once.

Jean said...

It is a very dangerous job! :D

I have culled books several times, and I nearly always want one of the books about six months later. I particularly regret losing 'Book' by Robert Grudin, but I don't think I gave that one away. I suspect I loaned it out and then forgot.