My Other Library

This weekend I’m going off to visit a friend in whose house there happen to be about 200-300 of my books, which I shipped there once while I went gallivanting off out of the country. I haven’t seen them for a couple of years now, and naturally have forgotten a lot of what’s there, so it will be a pleasure to be reunited with old acquaintances.

These are all books I collected about 10-15 years ago. My tastes haven’t changed much in that time: they will all be translations of foreign books, most of which have never been much heralded in this country. I do feel though, that the books circulating back then were a different set to now – a lot of them I don’t see any more in shops (even secondhand ones). I used to collect entire series: there is a whole shelf of those nice Harvill paperbacks they used to produce (the ones that were slightly larger than your normal paperbacks), and a lot of Quartet Encounters books.

A few, of course, I shall bring back with me; some of the roman fleuves, I think. I’d like to have to hand the second half of Andrea Giovene’s Sansavero, so I can set about reading it in its entirety; and the three volumes of Heimato von Doderer’s The Demons (now I’ve read Dostoevsky’s The Devils). And since I’ve finished The Leopard, I feel I should now read that other Italian one-off postumously-published classic, Salvatore Satta’s The Day of Judgement.

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8 thoughts on “My Other Library

  1. I love this notion – “the other library.” I recently accompanied a friend to a storage locker where his other library had been kept, and it was both a fascinating and alienating experience to watch him rediscover the books he’d kept there. Having just read Ramón Gómez de la Serna, I was very taken with one of his aphorisms wherein he advises people to read what they find attractive in the bookshop window, and not books recommended by friends, because the latter are primarily of interest to the friends.

    I have a copy of the von Doderer. I doubt I’ll get around to reading it soon, but will be very interested to hear what you think if you get around to it (did you write three volumes? I only have two, and that seems to be the complete thing – another book I bought long ago because of how it looked in the bookshop window).

  2. How nice to have multiple libraries – at the rate I’m going, I’ll have to expand soon too 😦

  3. Thinking of that aphorism, my friend says that he never actually reads any of my books because he feels it would somehow be wrong, and he will sometimes buy his own copies of the books to read.

    My main concern in not bringing books back, of course, is that I have far too many in my own flat.

  4. I seem to have multiple libraries as well only never thought of it that way.
    I’m occsionally tempted to visit the books but I cannot bring any back, I have far too many.
    I’m pretty sure you have a lot you would have a hard time finding if you had to buy them again now. I own a few series which were already out of print after two years although the books are really good but nobody was interested.

  5. This is making me envious. I currently have one library, but it’s thousands of miles away. I’m teaching in South Korea at the moment; not wanting to be saddled with lots of possessions to transport, I reluctantly left all my books in my parents’ attic. The only two I brought with me were a phrase book and a tourist guide. I also acquired a Kindle – a poor replacement for the real thing. It is a strange state to be living in a flat so bereft of books.

  6. I have too many books, too – but it didn’t stop me bringing back another twelve.

    I’ve done it before, becoming trapped in a foreign country, away from my books; I think I’d be reluctant to do it again.

  7. Back in the early 80’s some acquaintances of mine made a theatre show where the set was largely made of books. They made lots of clever effects using books as well – impossibly high teetering piles of them. and the finale involved the whole library crashing to the floor. They bought them by the ton and back then it was about a tenner a ton.

    The show was very funny but as it took about 3 days to install it wasn’t the most commercially viable idea.

  8. People often tell me I should make my furniture out of books, but to be honest it’s not a great building material. Not if you still want to read them.

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