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Shelfari, a social networking site for book lovers, posted yesterday an amazing peek into Neil Gaiman's bookshelves. Turns out that he convereted his entire basement into a library, and it's pretty unbelievable how many books he has. Given his profession, though, I'm not surprised.

Just envious.

There is a more comprehensive gallery of his library here.

At any rate, the NPR pop culture blog, Monkey See took a look at this library and asked its readership How Many Books Do You Own? and I figured I'd throw it at you all. Their question was in linear feet, which I estimated to be about 100 for me, but that's probably off a little.

My house is about 1050 square feet. I have five sets of bookshelves about six feet high* by about two and a half feet wide in my dining room/library. They house most of my fiction and my nonfiction. Those shelves are divided (alphabetically) into fiction, unread fiction, unread nonfiction, general nonfiction, coffee table books (generally art books), and law and healthcare policy books. I recently had to move the last non-book item (a box of blinky toys) somewhere else to make room for books. The other side of my dining room / library has a two rows of seven wooden wine boxes that are under the bank of windows. Cookbooks, travel books, gardening and design books, sci-fi paperbacks (especially series), graphic novels and magazines are generally in these boxes. My bedroom has a shelf about five feet by two and a half feet. This shelf contains erotica, short story collections, mystical/spiritual books, self-help books, and miscelleneous books that didn't work in the other shevles for some reason.

As for how many books? I have no idea. 1500? 2000? Maybe? When I moved from Berekely to Houston, it was Girl Scout Cookie time in Berkeley. I was able to get 23 of the boxes the cookies come in from the local girl scouts, and filled them with books. I shipped them to my parents house via the USPS book rate and I think the total cost was $150 or so. I highly recommend this method of book moving to the other bibliophiles out there, as it cuts down considerably on the weight your movers will have to ferry and therefore cuts down on the ultimate cost. I imagine that I add probably three or four girl scout cookie boxes a year to my book collection.

I have a Goodreads account, and I've added all of the books in the Lost in a Good Bookshelf posts I do every year. Goodreads logs me as having 250 books in those three years, and I've added 38 books to my shelves this year.

I actually don't buy as many books as I used to. I put myself on this book buying moratorium a few years ago. Of course, I end up buying books but I make myself consider the unread bookshelf pile (currently at 50 fiction, 45 non-fiction) before I buy anything. But, the lure of a buy one get one half off table at bookstop isn't really easy for me to resist.... My bookshelf mainly increased because of my mom. She probably gives me at least a half-dozen for Christmas, and I get another three or four every month as she finishes whatever it is that she's been reading lately. I pass books on to her on a fairly regular basis too.

Oh, and I have a few bookshelves at the ranch, too. Mainly stuff I read in college, plus a few childhood favorites, like my Little House collection. Plus a closet full of trashy romance novels that I probably should sort through one of these days.

Graham has pointed out that any expansion that we do will have to accommodate my books. I suspect that there will be built in shelves somewhere, and another wing of the library will start up. My mother and I are always looking for wall space to add bookshelves to the ranch, as most of the built ins were filled up long ago.

*I bought them at Pier 1 about ten years ago, and I'd assumed that Pier 1 would always make them because they're such a classic style. Sadly, Pier 1 doesn't make them anymore.



( 7 comments — Say something )
Sep. 4th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
Linear feet? That's a bizarre measure IMO, and a much more difficult calculation for me to do, anyway. We own 22 filled bookcases (most but not all 6 feet tall) and my last guesstimate was that we have about 4000 books. In a 900-square-foot house, we're kind of running out of places to jam new bookcases. :) Though now I'm totally envious of Gaiman's "officially library-like" setup... That place is gorgeous.

I've also read 280 or so books this year, but for that I rely heavily on the library.
Sep. 4th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
Dear God I am so envious of Gaiman's library. I do hope he has excellent drainage / sump-pump because oy, if there was a flood in the basement...

It hurts to even contemplate it.

At one point in my life I had over 2500 books. Over the years my husband and I have pared down the amount somewhat, but it's been going back up. Between the children's books I collected while I was teaching and the books we've bought for the kiddo, we're probably back between 2000 and 2500.
Sep. 4th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
I wants it!!!
I suddenly feel like Gollum. I totally would live there. I am so jealous!!
Sep. 5th, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
Wow, I love that library (covet).

We have eleven of those six-foot bookcases, between our office and the dining room. There are more books on the kids shelf and on my altar shelves in the living room. I've also got a very long 7-foot tall set of shelves out in the garage as well. I don't know, probably well over 5000 books, if I was to count and I just stopped by Half-Price again today (evil place) and picked up seven more, one cookbook and six little books for the grand daughters (who are now in second grade and need some good things to read).

I also just got a box of books about the Celts from my sister-in-law with about 10 books in it and, surprisingly, none of them duplicate the ones in our collection.

I'm trying hard to foist our love of reading on the grand kids. our kids read (all but one, but hey, I didn't raise him) and collect books and we're hoping that the grand kids inherit.

Edited at 2009-09-05 12:17 am (UTC)
Sep. 5th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC)
I think you need to block such posts from my sister. She really doesn't need that kind of encouragement. :-)
Sep. 6th, 2009 06:37 am (UTC)
For me the question would be how few books do you own. I've gotten rid of the vast majority of books in the last few years. Our current place is loft-style and minimalist, so bunches and bunches of bookshelves really wouldn't fit in. A month or two ago we got ourselves down to one small bookshelf (4 feet high) in the bedroom for the To Read piles and reference books, I have a little black case with three shelves that holds all my fiction favorites and I have graphic and web design books on two long shelves in my office space. All law school and undergrad books are long gone. I try to buy at least half of my new book purchases as e-books on my Kindle. I love reading, but hate holding onto stuff that I'm unlikely to reread.
Sep. 7th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)

Um. Yeah. We've had to put all our books into a closet library with a door that shuts because of allergy issues. It's sad.
( 7 comments — Say something )