A Tour of My Personal Library

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This post first appeared on my book blog, Cherry Tree Reads. View it here.

Books are something very close to my heart. While growing up I was never the biggest reader, something clicked when I went off to college and I began reading almost anything I could get my hands on. Most of the books I pick up, however, are non-fiction. Fiction is still a genre I’m trying to dive into, but it’s more difficult for me to find a fiction book that sounds interesting than, say, a history book or a book about soccer. Or even a textbook!

I love browsing used book stores for great deals, and I think there’s nowhere better to find an interesting book. Each has their own organization system, and they differ a little from the Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal system that I see in libraries. This means I find a wider variety of books quicker than going to a library where when I look at a Scottish history shelf the surrounding shelves are also dedicated to Scottish history–there’s less of a mix within eyesight.

I’ve bought a lot of books since college–so many, in fact, that there are two very heavy tubs of books sitting in a storage unit in the state I just moved from! My fiancée has told me I need to buy another bookshelf before I buy more books, but since moving into our new place there have been 0 deliveries of bookshelves and a non-zero number of books…

When we moved in and started unpacking, I finally decided to go through my books (that I moved) and log them all in Excel. So now I can classify my books any way I want! And I can also finally see the proportion of my books that are fiction vs non-fiction, history books, classics, contemporary literature, and much more. For this post, I wanted to run through some of the numbers in my personal library–even though I have 50+ books unaccounted for at the moment (although most of those are business/statistics books and business textbooks).

179

I have a total of 179 books on my shelves. Ok, a few of those are on the floor since there’s no more room on the shelves we currently have. Hence the need for more bookcases, not books! I gathered the title and author of each book, not the ISBN or initial/current publication date, so I can’t show a breakdown of years. It’s an ongoing process, so I will see those numbers in the future.

24

I created my own subjects for classification–24 of them. These include everything from 18th Century Literature and Science Fiction to African Writers and Languages. In fact, my bookshop page classifies books into many of the same categories. I prefer grouping by subjects and sub-subjects rather than alphabetically within a broad subject.

34

Language books make up my largest section of books with 34. These are primarily books for learning a specific language, everything from beginner’s books to grammars to dictionaries. I’m not a big fan of phrase books, so I don’t have any of those. If you can’t tell from this, languages are a passion of mine, so I pick up books teaching the language instead (which have the same phrases as a phrase book). I collect language books in case I want to learn any in the future, so it’s the first section I go to in a bookstore. Additionally, I have 7 books specifically on Linguistics and not language learning, so I own 41 language/linguistics books. Almost 23% of the books on my shelves right now!

19

Textbooks are the second-largest group on my shelves. Typically, these come into my possession in two ways. One way is by buying required or optional books from all my college classes and never selling them, because I may use them again (spoiler: I hardly do, but once a year it’s great to go back and look something up). Second, I love learning and think textbooks are the best way to introduce yourself to a new subject. Once I find a topic I’m interested in, I’ll look up syllabi from various universities and try to get one or two of the recommended textbooks. Some are great at uploading past syllabi to their department pages (George Mason University), others it’s extremely easy to find syllabi with a google search (course code, number, university, syllabus “PHY 101 MSU syllabus”). If I had all the books from the storage unit, this number would increase with all the Statistics and Supply Chain Management textbooks I own.

History and Sports

These are my two favorite types of books to read and together make up another big chunk of my library. And many times, I could classify one book as either history or sports, because it deals with the history of a sport (African Soccerscapes and Inverting the Pyramid, for example). Other history books include everything from Scotland (see my review of Scotland: Story of a Nation) and Wales and Austria to Greece and Rome; from the Incas to the Mongolians; and a series of 20 books from Time Magazine detailing the history of the world. My sports books mainly cover soccer–from scouting to tactics and history–but also include a growing collection of rugby books.

Side note, if you are at all interested in sports, history, or Africa’s place in the global context, check out Peter Alegi’s African Soccerscapes–it’s an amazing book and exceptionally well-researched. I’ll write a review on it in a later post.

I could go into further detail on my library, but I think I’ll leave it at that. Here’s the numbers on my subjects:

GENRECOUNT
Languages34
Textbook19
History18
Classics14
20th Century Literature12
Sports11
Fantasy9
Psychology8
Linguistics7
Fiction6
African Writers5
Historical Fiction4
19th Century Literature4
Science Fiction4
STEM4
Biography4
Business4
Reference4
Economics2
Contemporary Translated2
Philosophy1
Poetry1
18th Century Literature1
Buddhism1

And if you’re curious, I put my library on google sheets. A lot of these are on my Bookshop page, so stop by and grab a copy of any book you want to buy!

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