Monday, October 10, 2011

A Writer’s Library

As a non-fiction writer, I work with facts every day. Today, I have at my disposal a wide range of sources for those facts–library books, e-books, newspaper and magazine clippings, and the Internet to name a few. But nothing is more important than my own personal library, today numbering some 500 books.

During the past week, I was busy directing a group of energetic people at my church who were working to prepare for an annual fall festival that we held this past weekend. A book sale is a small part of that festival. Someone had donated what seemed like a complete collection of books on writing. The person who was organizing the books for sale said these probably wouldn’t sell, and being a writer, would I like to have them. Without hesitation, I said yes. And while I was elated to be receiving such a collection, I was saddened by the thought that a writer had perhaps retired or, even worse, had tried to become one and had given up.

So now these very useful books will be added to my own personal collection of books on writing. And while I may already know a lot of what’s in them, I’ll still use them for reference from time to time.

As a writer in several varied and some related subject areas, I’ve amassed a varied collection of books. For my travel writing, I have a library of guidebooks on all the countries I’ve written about, plus others I’d like to write about. Complementing these are books ones about countries I’ve traveled to or would like to. Add to this books I’ve purchased to help me research travel books I’ve written. Each of my books has a small library all its own.

Then there are my specialties—writing about Mexico and antiques, now expanded to history in general. I’ve gathered a collection of reference books for each of these specialties. For Mexico, my collection features not only guidebooks on various parts of the country but books on its history and culture. My antiques specialty has required me to gather pricing guides, as well as books on individual types of pieces, including those on different kinds and styles of furniture. Added to that are those on ceramics and porcelain, silver, marks, rugs, glassware, etc.

Besides the books for my specialties, I have a rather large collection of books on writing. These include those on how to write various types of proposals, as well as published pieces—articles, short stories, plays, novels, and non-fiction books. The more useful ones sit on shelves by my computer while others occupy another “branch” of my library in my bedroom.

And then there are the books I’ve reviewed and those I read or haven’t gotten to yet. While I prefer to read non-fiction, I have a number of novels and books on short stories from which to choose when the spirit strikes me.

I’m a multifaceted person and as such have other interests. I love to cook, so the “cooking” branch of my library sits on shelves across from my kitchen.  I also love to grow houseplants and gardening in general. This requires me to have a modest collection of books on gardening and growing plants indoors. It takes a bit of specialized knowledge to grow a mini rain forest.

Lastly, the most important books in my library are those I’ve written and those written by writer friends of mine. Nothing boosts my confidence more in slow times than looking at them on the shelf.

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