I won’t pretend to specialize or present myself as an expert in anything. Subjectivity is my middle name, a trick memory is my pack mule, and self-contradiction is my trusty old jackknife. Generally I favor humble over great, marginal over central, old over new—but not always, because like a four-sided porch I’m open to all winds.
I want to call to your attention his post Unpacking My Library, with its poignant evocation of the lot of us hopeless book accumulators:
But after living in smallish apartments for decades I just spent seven years in a house with a full-size attic, and everything went to hell. Books entered my house under cover of night, from the four winds, smuggled in by woodland creatures, and then they never left. Now that I have moved again—into a house that’s not necessarily smaller but that I am determined to keep from being choked with books like kudzu—I have just weeded out no fewer than twenty-five (25) boxes worth: books I won’t read and don’t need, duplicates, pointless souvenirs. I discovered that I owned no fewer than five copies of André Breton’s Nadja, not even all in different editions. I owned two copies of St. Clair McKelway’s True Tales from the Annals of Crime & Rascality, identical down to the mylar around the dust jacket. I had books in three languages I don’t actually read. Etcetera. It was time to end the madness….
I do have a few hundred books that I reread or refer to fairly regularly, and I have a lot of books pertaining to whatever current or future projects I have on the fire. I have a lot of books that I need for reference, especially now that I live forty minutes away from the nearest really solid library. Primarily, though, books function as a kind of external hard drive for my mind—my brain isn’t big enough to do all the things it wants or needs to do without help…
I’ve moved too often and discarded too many books; I hope I never have to triage my burdensome but beloved library again. (Thanks for the link, Kári!)