Friday, December 13, 2019

Collecting Books

Okay, so I watch game shows on occasion and one of my favorites is America Says.  It's a show where the contestants have to guess how America would fill in the blanks to a variety of statements.  Recently, I watched one where the question was something like 'The first things I collected were ______.'  And they give seven blanks for the top seven answers.  I don't remember them all, but they were like stamps, rocks, stuffed animals, etc.

Books was not one of the top seven answers.  =o\

I've been collecting books since I was old enough to hoard anything.  I had a whole slew of these tiny fat paperbacks (not sure where those went... must ask Mom) and a collection of Sweet Pickle books (I sold those).  In my teens, I started gathering old books by classic authors.  Whenever I had a little extra money and I was in a place where there were old books, I'd pick up what I could. 

My father was a great one for flea markets and even when I wasn't with him, if he saw an old book at a reasonable price, he'd buy it for me.  I still have most of those - including a few by authors I've never heard of or authors I have heard of but this was an unheard of title.  Dad wasn't picky about the books he bought for me.  If it was old and inexpensive, he bought it.

In college, I would haunt the used book store in town.  I snagged a lot of great finds in there, hiding in the bins no one wanted, where they were either free or 25c.  I found a brilliant - if poor quality - near first edition of The Fountainhead in there with the original owner's name and military information written in the front cover.  He was in a bomber group over the Pacific.  That one is my favorite, I think.

Anyway...  These days it's really hard to find those kinds of books for cheap.  In the age of the internet, anyone can go online and find out what a book is 'worth' and mark it up accordingly.  I haven't found a really impressive hardcover in years.  Nothing like my Tennyson from the 1800s anyway.  (The book that shall never be opened because it's disintegrating.)  Or the leather bound softcover of The Complete Works of Shakespeare from the 1930s who pages are so thin and soft and silky.  Or the late 19th century copy of The Rubyiat of Omar Khayyam.

These days, I collect old crime novels.  I can still find those at thrift stores and usually don't have to pay more than 50c a piece.  I'm working on Mickey Spillane, but really any old crime novel will work - MacLean, MacDonald, Pendleton, Ellery Queen, Sax Rohmer when I can find him, Erle Stanley Gardner, Rex Stout, etc.  I'm in the process of acquiring all the Agatha Christie novels, in as old an edition as I can find.  And I recently discovered Helen MacInnes, so I'm snapping her up, too. 

I also collect Phyllis Whitney novels.  Again.  I had a collection of her that I started when I was a teenager, but during one of my many moves, I let her go for some stupid and unremembered reason.  I'm rectifying that. 

And I collect Vince Flynn novels.  I only have three of his original works left to acquire.  (I'm eschewing the ones written after his death which he had no part in other than they're about his character and the publisher is slapping his name on them - above the smaller name of the guy who actually wrote the books.)

Oh, yeah, and I also do collect SF.  I have a collection of Andre Norton paperbacks I bought as a box lot. I'm working on Bradbury and Heinlein, but SF is harder to find around here.  I used to have a lot more, but when I was packing to move to MO, one box got unintentionally donated to somebody somewhere.  =o(  Lucky I managed to move another box that had a couple rare, old SF novels in it.

Anyway, I totally geek out about my books, as you can probably tell from reading this far.

I have paper printouts of certain of these authors' books, so I can check off what I have and what I've read of them.  This is one of the rare times I wish I had a smartphone, so I could carry the lists with me.  I can't tell you how many times I've bought books and discovered I already had them.  In those cases, I keep the better copy (or older, rarer copy) and cycle the other one back into the thrift store system.  I win, St. Vinny's wins.  It's all good.  If it's really a special book, I'll keep both copies. 

So, you can see why I talked about needing more shelves. 

What about you?  Do you collect books?  Do you collect anything?  What would be on your top seven collectables list?

For the record, I'm not sure if any of the books I collect are really worth anything to anyone but me.  But that's not the point.  At least it's not for me.  Maybe the Kid will find out if they're worth anything when she inherits them all someday.  Hell, maybe by then, they really will be worth something.  LOL


  1. Two bibliophiles should never marry. Luckily, when LG and I were moving so much, the Army paid for the boxes of books. I'm an Andre Norton fan too. I have almost all of her Witch World books in paperback because that's how they released. I have all of the In Death books in hardback if they released that way, in paper if not (along with digital and audio--it's my go-to series!). I have Louis L'Amours, mostly the Sacketts series but others as well because...Louis L'Amour! My dad and LG's dad both read him. Anne McAffrey's Dragonrider series. Yup. And Peter Pan. I have a first edition that's under glass and then other editions. LG is big on first editions, mostly bios and histories, and military. Some of ours are worth more than what we paid for them but Only will have to deal with them once we're gone.

    I also used to collect unicorns. Then I stopped. Not sure why. I do have some strung around the house though most are packed away from the last move twenty-plus years ago.

    But books. Definitely. There will always be space in my house for books. Have a reading weekend! 😉

    1. LOL, yeah, Hubs definitely had a lot of books when we got married, too. He's responsible for about half of the literature and the NF shelves, plus all the old engineering books. I only have two L'Amours so far. And I still haven't read McCaffrey. Must rectify that. I'm totally jealous of your 1st edition Peter Pan.

      I collected unicorns, too! I don't think I have any of them anymore, though. Not sure where they all went. Hmm.

      You have a reading weekend, too! Fun fun. =o)

  2. I used to collect SF and fantasy, but I'm slowly giving them up. Now I only hold onto titles I know I'll want to reread (such as LOTR) and favorite writers (like you). I reread my old books and turn them into the used bookstore for new ones. The nonfiction... the bookstore doesn't want them, and I have a ton of them.

    I am collecting Victorian fashion magazines, but that's for research for my books.

    At last count (I'm afraid to look again) I had 15 large bookcases filled to the brim. I suppose it's a good thing I couldn't squeeze one more into the house. ;-)

    1. Aw, thanks, Deb! It's probably smart to only hold onto what you know you'll reread. My problem is I never know what I might want to read again until I reach for it. Thanks for making my books part of your 'want to read again' lists.

      Ooo, Victorian fashion magazines sound cool.

      And now I'm jealous of your bookcases. But I totally hear you on not being able to squeeze one more in. I'm not sure where I'd put another bookcase if I had one.