Monday, 13 February 2006

How many books?

I have just added a new poll to the sidebar. I must confess that I myself am a bit of a bookworm; and, what is worse, I love not only reading books, but also possessing them and placing them neatly on shelves. So how about you? How many books do you own? Let us know in the new poll.

The winner of the last poll was Thomas Aquinas—36% of about 100 respondents said they would prefer Thomas for a theological teacher. In second place, 32% said they would prefer Karl Barth, followed by Luther (19%), Wesley (7%), and Kierkegaard (5%).

19 Comments:

T.B. Vick said...

Yikes! I have about 3500 volumes of books in my house! Many are still in boxes 'cause we simply have no space for the shelves to hold them all.

btw - go Aquinas! I would give at least 1000 of my books just to have him as a teacher! :-)

Chris Tilling said...

I don't even want to count. It would only make me feel guilty!

Aaron G said...

I too suffer from the whole passion for 'not only reading books, but also possessing them and placing them neatly on shelves..." The crispness of unopened the pages, the musty smell of an used bookshop, and the feel of a spine and cover...

I estimate to owning 650-725 books.

Anonymous said...

I tend to move books in and move them out, depending on how crowded things get. I frequently cull my book collection, keeping the creme of the crop and giving the rest to the local Salvation Army
thrift shop.

So I would estimate that I usually have a rotating collection of 200 to 400 books.

Regards,
John

GoobyNelly said...

Only a hundred, but if I get into Princeton then I project a 500% increase.

kim fabricius said...

I too am a bibliophile. The sight, the touch and feel - and the smell! (My wife always mocks me for sticking my nose in a book first thing!)

I guess I have a thousand books in my study with several hundred more scattered about the house. Alas, however, due to the fact that space is not absolute (damn Einstein!), it has finally gotten to the point that I am having to get rid of some of my lesser- or no-longer-read-books to make way for some new. Thought the grief is great, I am trying to take it as a spiritual exercise in dispossession!

By the way, I am also a marker of books. Some consider this a great heresy.

Ben Myers said...

No, Kim, marking books is not "a great heresy" -- it is the great heresy. I will pray for your soul.

Jim said...

I mark my books too- highlighting them when I feel like it. But only in the most markedly important parts.

As to number- well- I recently shed around 25 so at present I have around 2000-2200.

Do recall, though, that the largest personal theological libraries among the Reformers consisted of around 500 books maximum. I..e, that's how many Zwingli and Luther and Calvin had.

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

"I never liked the smell of old books," said Fanny Dashwood.

Edward replied, "No, it is the dust perhaps."

-Sense and Sensibility (the film version, anyway)

I wish I could, like Kim, mark my books. However, I cannot escape the feeling, like Ben, that it is terrible heresy, so much so that were it ever to become too widespread in Christendom, we might have to convene a Great Council to resolve it. If I had to guess, all Christian communions would participate (except maybe some Bible Christians--hahaha--they're so fun to pick on), so at least we would have the advantage of another truly Ecumenical Council. ;-)

Sean said...

Hi Ben

My guestimate would be about 4,500 extrapolating from how far I have got through the shelves in putting the library onto EndNote. Mostly NT stuff, but what I long for is a full set of CD (and to my knowledge Chris T has never given us the final chapter in that story.

And marking is heresy - agreed. As is snapping the spines of paperbacks until they break.

On and the most beautiful on the shelves? Surely my Hermeneia commentaries the latest volume of which (Luz on Matt 21-28) arrived last week.

kim fabricius said...

Hey, guys, even scribes wrote in the margins, and medieval scriptoria had plenty of doodlers. Freud would have a field day with you obsessive non-markers and fastidious librarians.!

At the end of The Name of the Rose the library burns to the gound, while William of Baskerville, the Franciscan with the spectacles, observes that "The only truths that are useful are instruments to be thrown away.

JoBloggs said...

I have been wondering recently whether the desire to own books (which I certainly share) is a not-so-subtle form of materialism for intellectuals. Isn't it appropriate to question the endless purchase and storage of books when we would probably condemn Imelda Marcos-style collections of shoes? I've been challenged by a friend who very rarely buys a book - she uses the library for what she needs, and when she does buy a book she reads it and gives it away. Radical!

T.B. Vick said...

They're MY books and I'll mark in 'em if I want to!!

I'm such a heretic, huh?

;-)

Ben Myers said...

Well, to qualify my earlier cry of heresy, I should admit that I too am a heretic: I am a very thorough book-marker myself, although only very lightly and with a soft pencil (B or 2B).

The unpardonable heresy, in my view, is the marking of books with ink or (even worse) those horrid highlighters. If anyone defiles his or her books with inky scribbles and bright, tacky highlighting, anathema sit!

kim fabricius said...

Well roared, T.B. Vick!

This controversy has all the makings of a status confessionis -with the Non-Markers treating books remarkably like graven images, which false teaching the Markers resolutely repudiate!

Me, I'm a Pen-Marker: pencils smudge, and you can't write comments in the margins (like "What crap!") with markers. So, Ben, an anathema sit returned with interest!

Ben Myers said...

Then again, I'm always glad to find very old books with marginalia. These can be wonderfully interesting and informative.

Recently I was using a very nice 1568 Latin edition of Calvin's Institutio. As printed, the book included no section-number headers, which would make navigation painfully slow -- but some time in the 18th or 19th century, the book's owner had neatly and lovingly written the section number at the top of each page. So in cases like this, I would say not anathema sit, but benedictus sit!

T.B. Vick said...

Well, Ben. I'm guilty of using highlighters (light yellow ones). However, I agree that no one should use ink/pen or the like -sorry Kim - but you feel free to go right on ahead and use a pen if you like - just don't try to sell me any of your books! ;-)

I must confess that sometimes I mark with a pencil. And sometimes of I do not mark in a book at all.

However, I did have a professor in my undergrad tell the class that we should never read a book twice (unless it was the Bible) - his reasoning was there are so many books to read and not any one of them is so good as to warrant a second reading. For some reason after he made this comment I could not help but chuckle out loud "yeah right!" He quickly turned his head toward my direction and gave a look that would have literally scared satan back into hell.

The above notion - never reading a book more than once, is a far worse "heresy" than marking in a book. I think so anyway.

Ben Myers said...

Yes, TB, this professor sounds not only like the worst kind of book-heretic, but also like the stupidest and most insensitive brute ever to walk into a bookstore.

He might as well tell his students that they should only listen to any piece of music once, or only visit any country once, or only make love once....

kim fabricius said...

Yes, TB, selling a penned book could be a problem. But then the way I mark my books - I'm not sure I'd want to share my marginalia with someone I don't know! But, yes, I'd never buy a marked book.

On the other hand, a retired OT professor friend, towards the end of his life, passed on a lot of his books to me. They were all very marked - and very helpful commentary indeed!

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