Home Libraries: Across Time and Place
I have loved reading from an early age, and as I get older reading has become the main thing that I do to relax and fill my free time. I started out reading sports biographies, and the discovered Stephen King novels in middle school. As I got older, my interests moved away from the sports books and into history, politics, and current events.
I still have a couple of the books from those days in my personal library, but most of what I currently have, I’ve acquired since college. At its peak, my library was somewhere around 1000 books, but I’ve moved across the continent and back, as well as from Pennsylvania, to Florida, to Kentucky, and back to Pennsylvania. All that moving forced me to triage my library a couple of times, and I’ve lost, on way or another, books that I ended up replacing. Currently I have a little more than 500 books, as well as several dozen eBooks, from a time when I was out of space for physical books.
My library is still an eclectic collection. Besides the Civil War, my other interests are Winston Churchill; the Founding Fathers; Theodore Roosevelt; Edward R. Murrow and the “Murrow Boys” and the National Parks.
The Churchill part of the library sits at right around 100 titles, and a couple of dozen books about the other subjects. My Civil War collection is almost 120 titles currently. I’m more of a generalist, but of course I focus on the four battles that took place here in and around the Fredericksburg area. I’ve also started collecting titles that have to do with the three regiments that are from my hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania.
I try to be a little more disciplined about buying books just for the sake of buying them. I have gotten to a point of only getting things that I want to read, but there are simply some titles that you NEED to have a physical copy on your shelf, as well as items that you grab for research purposes.
I still read fiction, but not a lot of it. Chris Mackowski put me on to a couple of Japanese authors a few years back, and I’ve kept those. Whenever I go to a national park, I always get a book about the place so that I can read more about it, or grab a book of photos to see places that I either don’t have the time to see in person, or are inaccessible.
I have a home office/library space that I spend a lot of time in here at home, but I do have bookshelves throughout my home, and there are books on them all. I find comfort and joy in my collection. Memories of places I’ve been, people I’ve met, stories that I enjoy, and it provides me an opportunity to revisit them all from time to time. Wherever I’ve lived, wherever I travel, when I am surrounded by my books, I know that I am home.