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Weekend Update

I wrote like a madman this weekend, to total some 10K words (of which one third were stat blocks, which don't count, really). I'm extremely pleased that this wordcount includes material for 4 different projects. The Paizo progress was strong, and the outline for the next Open Design makes me wish the project was already launched. I was amused to find myself opening a 1E MM for reference purposes.

The Great Purge of the Shelves continues its inexorable destruction of unloved books in the Monkey household. The process is a simple one, in which shellyinseattle hands me books and I cast them upon the Internet fires of Amazon used sales, or I carry them in enormous coalsacks to to the used books dealers who offer me a pittance for them. I would surely crumble rather than consign once-loved books to such a fate, but fortunately my wife's will is unshakeable (Burn them all! Out, damn books!). As a happy result our shelves are clear of a lot of paperbacks and junk. Alas, o tempore, o mores.

I find that I continue to ditch stuffy literary fiction and keep reference works, except for a certain special body of what I can only call totemic books. I find these books soothing, inspiring, and nostalgic. I refuse to part with them under any circumstances. I merely have to look at them on the shelf to spur myself to greater efforts in my own writing. They include works by Vance and Barker (yes yes, I know) and CA Smith and Gibson and Eddison. Kushner and LeGuin. Maybe Baker. Not many of the recent wave of acquisitions have made the cut, though there's a few.

What are your bookish treasures, the ones that someone would have to pry from your fingers before you sold it?

Gratuitous Linkage: World's Greatest Toaster


( 44 sutras — Your wisdom )
Feb. 19th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
I've also been doing a massive book-weeding here -- sending them off to bookmooch, selling them to 3rd place, or as a last resort to half-price.

And before this weeding, I had thought there were entire authors I wouldn't be willing to let go of, but this has been proved not to be the case. There are decent stacks of books by Ray Feist or Julian May or Noel Streatfeild that not only will I not ever get rid of, I own *back-up* copies. But there are other books of theirs that I am quite content to read once or twice and then pass on to the world. If I absolutely had to, I could probably get my paperbacks down to one or two shelves, instead of the 2.5 bookcases they are now (the other 2.5 are reference works).
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:01 pm (UTC)
What is bookmooch? It sounds so amazing, but.... sell me on it.
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:33 pm (UTC)
BookMooch is basically an online book swap, and then some. Here's how I use it:

* Every time I come across a book I truthfully don't need to keep in the house, I add it to my bookmooch inventory.

* If someone wants it, bookmooch shoots me an email, letting me know. I pop it in the mail to them, unless the person has a horrific mooch history (like the request I got last week from someone who'd received 10 books but hadn't yet sent out any). Using media mail rates, it's generally under $2. If it's someone local, sometimes it's easier to just meet and swap -- there's one guy in town that I recently met up with to trade a stack of books between inventories. :D

* For every book I send out, I get a point (more if I sent it internationally). I can use those points to mooch books from other people, or I can donate those points to organizations that are using bookmooch to get books for hospitals, prisons, etc.

* By and large, I use those points like I would a library. I use them to get books I remember from long ago but can't find in local used bookstores or libraries. I use them to get reference books that would be pricey to buy, but for which a library isn't convenient (long waiting list, too short of a check-out period, whatever).

* About 75% of the books that I mooch, I put them back out onto bookmooch once I've read them -- they don't get added to my residential stacks.

* Every couple of months, when my inventory of books available for mooching gets too big, I take them all off my bookmooch inventory, and cart them to 3rd place books to sell.

So bookmooching has been good for me in a couple of ways. For whatever reason, I'm often more willing to pay $1.59 to ship a book to someone who really wants to read it than I am to sell it to half price books for 20 cents. I also get books that would cost $20+ to buy, without the library-associated issues, and I can always throw them back on bookmooch when I'm done with them. It's almost like I'm using it as a private, fee-for-use library, except that I pay for putting books back into the system, rather than for taking them out.
Feb. 19th, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC)
The beautiful Orbit editions of Iain M. Banks:

Feb. 19th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC)
ooooooh, Iain Banks is shiny!

You tempt me. But my will is strong, strong I tell you!
Feb. 20th, 2007 12:34 am (UTC)
Tempt you to purchase, or tempt you to retain?

(If purchase, you should know that I maintain a stock of my favored Banks editions on hand for evangelism purposes. So, just how strong is this will of yours? You needn't tell shellyinseattle, and you could certainly count on my discretion...)
Feb. 20th, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)
That is the creepiest cover they could have possibly used for that book!
Feb. 19th, 2007 09:41 pm (UTC)
There's two art books I adore above all the others: one on the Orientalists and one on N. C. Wyeth. (Though in all honesty, I doubt I'd sell any of my artbooks, no matter what - we're moving 3,000 miles in a month and they're all going.) For word-books, I'd say The Lions of Al-Rassan. I like all my GGK novels, but that one's my favorite.

You might want to try BookMooch or PaperBackSwap, if you're just trying to get rid of old books you won't read again; that way you can get some new, more interesting ones in their place.
Feb. 19th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
NOoooooo...the idea is to free up space not get more books into the house. The operative phrase I keep using is, "We can always get it again from the library!"
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC)
Re: ""
but you have a bigger house, and you probably don't have a reason to move again. it's not time to get rid of books, it's time to cover blank walls with custom shelves!

home isn't The Place Where Your Books Are? i don't understand :P
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)
Re: ""
Shelly has acquired bookaphobia. There's probably a charity involved in seeking a cure for this condition.

Won't you give, for the children?
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
Re: ""
When you move is actually the best time to purge, since you've had stuff in storage and that helps you realize you don't really need most of it.

The suggestion that a bigger house = more room for books reminds me of a bookstore owner I knew in Milwaukee. He had originally bought an old house with a library, and started acquiring books for it. Soon, it became so big he opened the bookstore. He kept buying more and more collections from people until even I had a hard time finding stuff.

The last GenCon there, I went by the bookstore only to find it sold. The original owner had overspent and had gone out of business. The new owner who had run bookstores before was purging the place, trying to make it more accessible again.

I want to always have my house accessible; I think too much clutter also frees up the mind. Purging stuff also cuts down on cleaning time and makes things faster to find. Not to mention that sending books back to be re-loved is better for the environment.
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC)
Re: ""
Ooops, meant "freeing oneself from clutting frees up the mind".

Also, there is no forced purging. Wolf is free to keep anything he really wants to.

Instead, I just say, "Here are the books I can give up." and have him pull out what he really wants to keep. Okay, I do keep reminded him that various volumes can be found at the library and ask him if he is ever seriousy going to re-read something.
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
Re: ""
actually, that's how we do purges too: "i can let these go, can you?" part of creating a LibraryThing catalog is discovering things we have that i don't feel the need to keep.
Feb. 20th, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC)
Re: ""
One solution that works for us, as well as some friends of ours, is labeling a space. So if you have the space give him a space that is 'his' and you have one that is 'yours' and do with it as you will. The other one keeps out of it, at least in terms of decorating or commenting, and the owner of said space just keeps a promise to keep it clean, not messy, etc. but can keep whatever it is that they want -- again not in a messy way.

Just a thought. I have this room, my geek room, and my wife has the basement. Hmm. She got more than I did. :)
Feb. 20th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
Re: ""
Both Wolf and I periodically start purging stuff, and this has worked for us for many a year. While Wolf is griping a bit online, he's the one who's been putting the books out to their final pasture.

Part of what started this purge is getting through all the books that never made it inside the house because we don't really need them. Neither of us has looked inside these boxes for a year and a half. Wolf has been kvetching about getting that space in the garage back, so he's eager to get rid of the excess boxes.

The other thing that started this is that I want Wolf's office to actually be fixed up instead of looking like piles of junk. This means we're looking at some bookcases and other solutions so he can finally have all his stuff organized nicely where he can find it easily. Thus we need to figure out how much is actually staying so we can get a better idea of what we need.
Feb. 21st, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC)
Re: ""
Oh, I fully understand the purging mentality. Pam and I are going through a similar thing right now. It was just the co-commiserating about the thought about getting rid of books -- to both Pam and I that's just a scary thought. That said, however, we did actually probably get rid of about two bookcases worth after we moved into this house.

We actually have a storage room in the basement, maybe 12x14?, that is just full of boxes and giant plastic tubs where we're storing that stuff we can't seem to get rid of yet have no use for at the moment.
Feb. 19th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
A couple of Heinleins (not all and not even what I would call his best stuff, but ones that were there for me when I needed them). Illuminatus! Fear and Trembling. My Faust collection. Some Chris Moore (Practical Demonkeeping, Coyote Blue, Lust Lizard). Those portions of my Yeats materials that remain. Large portions of my non-fiction library that cannot be readily replaced...

I think I just said things about myself that perhaps I should not always admit to...
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
Faust... collection? Just how many Fausts are there, exactly? :)
Feb. 20th, 2007 01:26 am (UTC)
Rather a number. I would cause someone bodily harm to have a hardcopy of this one.
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
Dangerous Visions. the complete run of Larry Niven Del Rey paperbacks from the 80s. the boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia in the proper order. Historical Costume for the Stage. the Poe omnibus. my first Complete Shakespeare. the complete Sturgeon. the first Dragonriders of Pern and the Harper Hall trilogy. Dune. Brave New World. Jane Eyre, some Heinlein, The Mists of Avalon, The Princess Bride...

okay. i don't collect anything but books. books are life. i can prune the collection myself, but if C ever told me i *had* to get rid of books, our marriage would be in trouble. i won't double-shelve unless it's C's shite Battletech/40k/Ravenloft novels, books will never go into storage, and if i ever run out of wall space for books then we need to move to a bigger place. it's not negotiable.
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:07 pm (UTC)
"Chronicles of Narnia in the proper order"

Proper order, eh? I think you might be pickin' a fight. :)

Yeah, the marriage creaks and groans whenever the book-jihad begins again, but really, over time I'm learning that I can let go of a lot of things. And my love of electronic editions means that my bookshelves truly are infinite these days.
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC)
i haven't learned to love e-books yet. i want to. part of the problem is my eyes, the rest is reading in the bathtub.
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC)
Huh... I guess they'd be the hard-to-find books rather than (necessarily, though sometimes they're the same) books I love. Y'know, 1950's editions of Gnome books, signed editions, those all marked up from reading and loving them.

I admire you your purge-ability. Me, I get rid of about half as many as I acquire each year. Gulp.
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC)
As long as your rate of acquisition remains in arithmetic rather than exponential growth, you should be fine....

My parents live with thousands of volumes, and it's one of the things that says "A long life, well lived" to me. Shelly's book purges are sad but very practical. Most of what disappears is the chaff; it's rare that I find myself itching for something that's gone.
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, a lot of what's on my shelves is just art: I don't expect to re-read most of those volumes, but I love how each book represents a period of education, personal growth, fun, and so on, and just glancing over the wall of shelves in my game room makes me smile. And apparently others, too, as a couple of people who now regularly attend Game Day at my place had been wanting to see the shelves up close for years now.
Feb. 20th, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)
You can learn a lot about anyone by the music they listen to, and the books they choose to keep.
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC)
My Robin McKinley collection. My English lit classics, like Dracula, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, all things Austen, etc. My collectors edition of the Maltese Falcon. My collectors edition of Jane Austen's letters. My Agatha Christie book club collection-- had a great chance to do it during the last purge, and I just couldn't bring myself to do so. Gaiman's work, Diana Gabaldon's books... oh, and in single works, the Family Book of Humor (a gift from my grandmother), a couple of my cookbooks, my copy of John Bellairs' The House with a Clock in its Walls. Oh and my other grandmother's legacy of a series of "how to entertain"books for the 1950s housewife. Classic.
Feb. 20th, 2007 02:04 am (UTC)
Wait...you mean you're supposed to get rid of books eventually?
I thought you were just supposed to keep adding bookshelves.
Have I really had this wrong all these years?
Feb. 20th, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
Nope, you have it correct, they're wrong!
Feb. 20th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC)
Geez, that's a tough question. I'm not going to survey the shelves. But off the top of my head:

Stephen King
China Mieville
Connie Willis
Feb. 20th, 2007 03:20 am (UTC)
I could not part with my Anne McCaffery, my programming reference books, nor my 2d/3d animation books. I've culled at lot of the non-fic out and have a lot of reference books/textbooks left. At least what I have left *might* be useful some day hehe.
Feb. 20th, 2007 03:25 am (UTC)
1st edition signed copy of A Many-Colored Land by Julian May and my first copy of Grendel by John Gardner.

Feb. 20th, 2007 04:23 am (UTC)
It's interestingly unfortunate, but my bookshelf is only made up of the books I didn't enjoy or have yet to read -- I always give away the ones I like.

There is then, of course, my reference books, and I am still in the text-book phase of life.
Feb. 20th, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
The Top 3:

1. My collection of Guy Gavriel Kay novels, all signed by the author (including one that was signed as a surprise gift to me by my wife. She sent the book to a reading to be signed while I was away on a business trip.).

2. Iain M. Banks sci-fi novels. (The Iain Banks genre novels I could probably live without...but I wouldn't want to take that chance.)

3. From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.
Feb. 21st, 2007 01:38 am (UTC)
GGK! I wish mine were signed, but I was busy the night he came through town recently...
Feb. 20th, 2007 06:27 pm (UTC)
My complete run of Gibson, GGK, and Bujold would have to rank pretty high on such a list.
Feb. 20th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
Just like the person above, my Kay books are all signed. I wrote my Honours thesis on Kay. One might say I have a thing for Kay. I can't remember being more disappointed in a book than Kay's Last Light of the Sun . . .
Feb. 21st, 2007 01:41 am (UTC)
Oh, I've got that one kicking around the house. It's got Vikings, so naturally that drew my attention.

Why was it a disappointment?
Feb. 21st, 2007 01:43 am (UTC)
Without spoiling anything, it's simplest just to say that it falls short of Kay's usual standards in many ways. Just didn't have the spark and first-rate quality that I've come to expect from him. Parts of it were good, but it was uneven in quality.
Feb. 20th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
He wolf! Phil Brucato here. Don't know if you remember me or not, but we both served in the RPG trenches back in the '90s (me for White Wolf, to which I've recently returned). I see to recall a packed hearse ride with Teewyn Woodruff on your lap and my friend Diana on mine back around 1993, and we nearly wound up on the D&D 3rd Edition team somewhere around 2000. I just got your LJ address from Ace, and Friended you. What's up?

As for books... hmmm...

Living in Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media, by Les Daniels (I lost a copy of this to my roommate's girlfriend back in college; my former wife bought me a copy online, and I'll never part with this one!)

Comix: A History of Comics in America (also by Daniels, who for my time and money is one of the best pop-culture historians in the field.)

The scripts I used in productions of Equus, Blue Denim and The Lion in Winter (complete with copious notes in the margins).

The Black Art, by Rollo Ahmed (long out of print, this larger-than-life "history" of occultism is hilarious, creepy and totally batshit.)

The copy of my book Cult of Ecstasy that was signed by each of the artists who worked on it.

The German translation of Mage Second Edition (I once donated to charity my French translation of Sorcerers Crusade, and have since regretted it.)

Gods, I know there are more, but I'm not gonna list 'em all! Suffice to say that in the last eight years, I've moved six times (twice across the country), clearing out almost everything I own EXCEPT 30-some-odd cartons of books and CDs!
Feb. 21st, 2007 01:43 am (UTC)
Phil! Good to hear from you! Not much up, other than getting back to the magazines in the last couple years, writing a novel (unpublished), writing short fiction (all published, so far), and writing some patron-commissioned projects. All good fun.

I like your list of books. I'll have to see if I can find anything by Daniels...
Feb. 21st, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
I love my David Brin, Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Philip Pullman, Robert Silverberg (love his Majipoor series), Harry Turtledove, and Vernor Vinge. These are the authors whose books I always take with me to college (I have about three times this number left at home). The only RPG book that I've kept (no gaming for me in this town) has been "Beyond Countless Doorways"--I love looking through it even when I don't have a game for it.
Feb. 23rd, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
An autographed copy of Poul Anderson's "The Broken Sword" - I had no idea it was autographed when I bought it - and a couple of biology books, "Between Pacific Tides" and "Running with the Fox."
( 44 sutras — Your wisdom )

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