Sunday, 26 November 2017

Making a Personal Library

I love books and reading. I have recently been looking into ideas on having to grow my own library. Here are suggestions/ideas that I have found to grow your own personal library. Hopefully, both you and I learn ways to get books and build our own library.

Here are some recommendations to consider:
Know what you want and keep a record/catalog of the books you already own. There are apps and other systems that you can put in place to know what books you have and even the ones you loan to others. If anything were to happen, you have that list to rebuild or get any type of money back. As well as a record to show family and friends what you have.
Build Sturdy Bookshelves. Consider what you are using /as shelves. Make sure that the word or other material will last awhile.
Read a good book on the subject. Many such exist. But don’t get overwhelmed. If no definitive list exists. Create your own.
Define and Prepare a Space – Decide on a size, Big or Small? This depends upon the physical space available to you. And the patience of your spouse. Determine where and how you will store your library. Do you have a free wall? Or a spare room that you don’t use very often? What about creating a room just as a library room. That’s what I did in our dining room. We eat instead in the Kitchen/Great room.
Make sure that it’s comfortably appointed as well. Big stuffed chairs, a library table, warm lighting, favorite photos, paintings, or sculptures all make it your special place of beauty and peace.
Build Upon the Core of your Library (of what you already have). How? Answer a couple of questions:
  • What am I passionate about? The answer will give you a prime section of your collection. That’s probably what your core already consists of.
  • What would I love to learn or know more about? You’ve got your second section.
  • What has always fascinated me? You’ll need a section of good books on the subject.
  • What might give me some insight into . . . ? (people, places, ideas, occupations)
  • If you are like me, you’ll want a section just for leisure reading as well.
Begin modestly. You don’t need a ton of books of all kinds unless you’re a hoarder vs. a collector. Locate and purchase the very best three to five books in each field of interest or passion. You might like to begin with an anthology or bibliography. This will lead you to recommended reading which comes from a variety of authors who have all weighed in on that subject. I read an autobiography of The Beach Boys’, Brain Wilson. In the back was a bibliography. From there I collected several more books including their discography (I wanted a history of their recording career along with the background history of their recordings). Bibliographies and Recommended Readings in the back or appendices of a book often provide you with exactly what you need to build your core.
Hardback or Paperback? What is the goal for your library? How much do you have to spend? Will you read your books more than once? If not, you don’t need a library. You can borrow from the public free library. But if you plan on the long term to read them and refer to them frequently, or to dialog in the margins (write in them) then you may want to consider hardbound for the majority of your books.
Look for bargains. Most libraries cull their stacks often. You can usually find hardcovers for $1. And paperbacks for .25-.50 each. It doesn’t take long to build a library at these prices. But be selective by sticking close to your plan. Otherwise, you precious space will fill up with junk that doesn’t further your goals and overall plan.
Stick to your Core plan. Once you’ve decided on a plan of collecting, stick with it! Enough said.
Adopt your own set of “Simple Rules.” Mine is below as an illustration of the point.
Love beauty. Certainly, a person who does not love beauty can build a library. One who values ugliness, falsehood, destruction, and banality could collect books, but who but the base and lifeless would want to read them? Or write them?
Love of beauty forms character and generosity of spirit. These will, therefore, affect the character of what you will collect and share. One character is in place my other two rules apply.
Collect what you enjoy. You must allow your library to evolve according to your interests and passions. Your interests have probably guided you this far. Your passions will form the core of your collection.
Choose carefully only the books you KNOW you care enough about to read.
Read what you collect. No matter how long it takes, read your books. They will teach you and speak to you. They will inform and expand your thinking and experience.
Share what you read. Let others enjoy what you have enjoyed. Share your library. Then be a lender to the people in your life who you know share your love of books or your core passion. Of course, make sure that those who borrow appreciate some understanding of the care and collecting of books.
QUESTION: What is the core of your personal library? Are you working a “plan”?

Ways to Collect Books
Below are some tips on keeping and maintaining your own library. I hope they help:
-First, you have to read a lot. A lot. Read when you fly, read when you wait for doctors appointments, read when you’re eating, read before bed, take breaks from work and read. Every chance you get, read.
-Buy, buy buy. Books are an investment. I understand they cost money upfront…but that’s how an investment works. You gotta spend money to make money.
-Oh, that sounds like a lot? Average student loan debt for the same period was about $30k. If you don’t like that equivalency, what’d you spend on cable, movies and bar tabs? What are the chances of that ever turning a profit? The books have more than paid for themselves (if only in improving my life and outlook and providing pure enjoyment, to say nothing of their ideas, inspiration, and lessons).
-I’ll be real clear about the benefits of owning physical books: You own them. They are there, physically, in your house. You cannot forget about them. A different app is not one click away. You can see patterns. You can gauge your progress. You can show off your efforts (and you should–reading is something to be proud of). You can look for what you need, find it on the shelf and satisfyingly say “Ah, here it is” and find the exact passage you marked for this purpose.
-The books on your shelves represent literally thousands of years of cumulative human wisdom. This is wisdom that you can reach out and access at any second. It also stands there, also, as a reminder of the pettiness of so many of our problems and complaints.
-Organize, organize, organize. I do themes (moving messed them all up, but it was fun to start over).
-Have a “LIFE” section – for books that changed your life or books to live your life by. Return to these often.
-Aesthetically, I prefer to have them arranged in order descending by height. The height gives it a sense of order and symmetry which you notice only when it is not there.
-Pick one off the shelf every now and then and flip back through it.
-Having a personal library in your house functions as a good litmus test for people who come over. If their first question is “WOW, have you read all these?” it says something about them. If they immediately start looking for books they like, or start inspecting the titles like it’s a bookstore and they’re looking for something to pick up, that says something too. You can tell a lot about a person based on their relationship to reading.
-But it takes up so much space! Just wall space, really. We fill up our living spaces with so much crap, I have to think books are maybe the least bad thing.
-I understand that keeping a library of books puts you the minority or at least part of a dying breed (like someone who started a record collection in 1998). Whatever. Of all the “old” traditions to stick to, a three- or four-thousand-year-old one strictly observed by basically every smart and accomplished person ever seems like a good one to go down with.
-Treat them like shit. Books are made to be broken–literally or figuratively.
-The author signed it? Cool, it’s still for reading.
-We all know that public libraries are calming and quiet. Having books displayed–or better, a room dedicated to it–brings a little of that effect into your home.
-Become a resource for others. Recommend books to others. Nothing builds a connection with a shared book or author.
-Refer back to them! If you’re writing a memo, see if you can’t include an anecdote from a business book. If you’re working on a blog post, citing a book you’ve read. If someone you know is going through something, try to track down that quote you vaguely remember. The more you do this, the better your recall will get.
-The point of owning the books is to use them. Make sure you take notes and keep a commonplace book. It will change your life.
-Books are no substitute for human contact, but it is still beneficial, to be in the physical company of the greats.
-Don’t be afraid to quit books that suck. Our lives are too short to suffer through crappy books. There are too many good ones out there–put it down if you stop getting something out of it. If they really suck, sell them back to Amazon, donate to charity or throw them away.
-Don’t collect for the sake of collecting. Leave that for hoarders. Get rid of the stuff you don’t like or have no real use for. When I moved I got rid of two full boxes…which I have subsequently replaced with better stuff.
-Don’t loan. If you love a book, you can buy the book for another to read ... or just bother person until you get it back and they buy their own copy.
-If you need ever a reminder to read, the constant physical presence of books near you in your own home is quite helpful.
-It’s all about the IKEA shelves. Why? Easy, cheap and you can get rid of them if you need ‘em. Higher is better (so if they have the extenders), put the books you need the least at the top and you’ll save room.
-Collect the unusual.
-If you want a cheesy library joke, refer to your books as the “[Insert Your Name] Memorial Library”
-Is it really that much of a pain to carry books around? I never got this argument. Only once in my life after like a month on the road was I so overloaded that I had to mail some home (and I read way more than the average person). Suck it up, the benefits are worth a heavy suitcase.
-Go through other people’s libraries.
-Having a library keeps the information fresh in your head.
-Try to find those books you remember as a kid. It’s nice to have and every once in awhile it will make you think or smile.
-List Your Favorites. Sit down and make a list of the best books you have ever read. Pick the ones that you love to read again and again. The classics that changed your view of the world, the romance novels that made your heart pound and the definitive works on your favorite hobby. Once you have an idea of which books you want the most, you can shop for exactly what you need.
-Pick a Number. How much can you afford per month on books? $200?$25? Whatever it is, stick to it. Knowing how much you want to spend keeps you from overspending.
-Pace Yourself. Don't try to get your whole list in one sitting. If your budget is $20, don't sneak in an extra $7.50 for your favorite Hemingway novel. There are other (probably cheaper) copies of The Old Man and the Sea in the world, you don't need to overspend for anything.