Recently Marie at Boston Bibliophile wrote an interesting post, Essentials for a Home Library , where she said:
I like the idea of upgrading some of my classics and creating space in the collection for nice books. But then I starting thinking about what it actually would take to build a home library I could be proud of- not just a bunch of random flotsam that happened to find its way into my house, but a really nice collection.
That got me thinking about my library, which is mostly of the “random flotsam” variety. When my husband and I were newly married, we subscribed to a “great classic books” offer. Each month we received a new hardcover classic in pseudo-fancy binding: red, blue, or green covers with gold accents. These were not expensive or of particularly high quality. They looked kind of nice on our shelves, but most of the books were works by “dead white guys” that I had no interest in reading. We canceled our subscription after a billing dispute with the company. They are still on our shelves, but not really something I’d consider part of my “literary legacy.”
A few years ago, I started collecting Virago Modern Classics, works by oft-forgotten or ignored women novelists. I now have more than 130; here’s a photo taken when I reached 101:
Nearly all of these books are used, and were published before 1990. Most are still in very good condition. The cover art can be quite beautiful:
I think of my Viragos as part of a legacy that will pass to the next generation someday. But that’s about it, so far. For my leisure reading, I tend to buy used paperbacks and recycle them through Paperbackswap, or I borrow them from my local library. I rarely buy a hardcover book!
Perhaps I should. I wouldn’t mind having a high quality, hardcover collection of literature, both classic and contemporary. I like the idea of buying the books from the same publisher, to create a consistent look on the bookshelves. But I want to choose the titles myself, and not have someone else’s idea of “great books” foisted on me. I’m also thinking about collecting a few books on American and British history.
On Tuesday, Marie published her home library mission statement, and gave me even more to think about.
What do you think of the home library concept?
Do you have a home library, or do you prefer “random flotsam”?