Stamp: Catalogued on LibraryThing

The Final Shape of My Library

Notable Non-Acquisitions

To begin with, some fail. A couple of weeks ago I put out a request for recommendations. Most of the suggestions I ended up with came face-to-face from family members, but two dudes on Twitter also chimed in. They suggested two books – The Dice Man and All the Light We Cannot See – that sounded interesting and thought-provoking, and one – The Screwtape Letters – that is a longstanding favorite of mine.

I didn’t get any of those books. I looked for them, but either I was looking in the wrong sections, or the stores were just plumb out. This was especially weird in the case of All the Light We Cannot See, which as a recent bestseller and generally huge book should have been somewhere in Barnes & Noble. (Actually, d’oh, I just realized I was looking for it in general fiction instead of in the bestsellers antighetto. I may have missed out on it just by failing to think like a bookstore.)

(About The Screwtape Letters: I gave away my latest copy because it had these icky, whimsical illustrations that made me unwilling to open it. I thought I’d be getting a new one for Christmas, but something in the hints-and-wishes machine must have broken down.)

Why, you ask, can’t I just acquire these good books at my leisure and add them in then? Because I planned to freeze my library at the start of the project, and I’m sticking to that plan. Pointless rigidity, missed opportunities, and the enforcement of a creeping sense of failure are what this project is all about.

The Last Additions

I originally thought I might be opening book-shaped Christmas presents until Epiphany (hence the mention of January 6th in the intro post), but as it turned out, I got my last two on the 30th and 31st of December. One was City of God, from my father; the other was Karmen MacKendrick’s Divine Enticement, from either my grandmother, my uncle, or my grandmother and my uncle (this could stand to be cleared up, though they would tell me it doesn’t matter).

One Blank Space

Finally, one book that I consider part of my library isn’t actually in my hands yet. It’s The Private Life of Lord Byron, which is being got up by subscription (or “crowdfunded,” as the kids are saying these days) and which I reckon will be published some time during the course of this project. I signed on a good long time ago, and as far as I’m concerned the copy that I shall have is already “mine.” Imagine, if you like, a little block of wood on my shelf, holding its place.


I have 263 books catalogued now – so, including The Private Life of Lord Byron, 264 in all. This divides neatly into a 3-year reading plan, 88 books a year. So a year from now, I hope to have gotten as far as Cathedrals of the World.

I’ll probably be doing something about my very dirty metadata in the future, so classifications may change, but for now here’s the breakdown of books by Melvil Decimal class:

  • 2 in the 000s
  • 9 in the 100s
  • 49 in the 200s
  • 12 in the 300s
  • 11 in the 400s
  • 2 in the 500s
  • 9 in the 700s
  • 158 in the 800s
  • 9 in the 900s

(I never read novels and yet like a quarter of my library is novels. Go figure.)

I’ve already entered some 200 of these books in my Goodreads account. I’ll get the rest done, eh, sometime.


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