I love books. I suppose I’m a bit of a minor bibliophile, weighted heavily to Mormon studies. I would love to hear about your books, but I realize that it’s not really feasible for everyone to share a catalog of their 2,000 volumes or whatever. So it occurs to me that one way we could get a sense for your collection is for you to describe your bookshelves, basically shelf by shelf, with maybe a few representative titles for illustrative purposes. Sort of the report an archaeologist would give if he were digging up your bookshelves 200 years from now (and all of the books had survived intact, of course). I’ll go first (to give you a sense of what I’m looking for):
I live in a smallish house, so I don’t have a single library room. My books are divided into four main locations in the house.
Living room. Here I have two very sturdy, large “This End Up” shelves, about six feet high by eight feet long. The top couple of shelves on the left feature my prettiest collection, the University of Chicago Great Books series (think Mortimer Adler). My father bought this from a struggling graduate student who needed the money many years ago. The next couple of shelves are mostly books from my classics studies at BYU; lots of Latin and Greek texts, ancient history books, reference works. The bottom shelf is for oversize reference works (Compact OED, Gardiner’s Egyptian Grammar, old Kittel edition of the Biblia Hebraica, etc.)
The top two shelves on the right side are for my blue Harvard Classics Series. I almost never actually use any of these books, but again, they belonged to my father and were prominently displayed in my childhood home, so I keep them mostly for sentimental reasons. The next shelf has my hardbound Journal of Discourse and, to fill out the space, my four-volume Vulgate. The next shelf down has a first edition Comprehensive History of the Church (the same edition B.H. Roberts plunked on the Tabernacle pulpit during conference in 1930, shortly before his death), which was also my father’s and displayed in my childhood home. These are beautiful books (far superior to any later edition). Next to that is my Encyclopedia of Mormonism, then text critical stuff on Mormon scripture (all of the Skousen volumes on the BoM and the huge JST critical text), a set of facsimile reproductions of early Mormon scripture and texts, and then the old Sjodahl and Reynolds commentary on the BoM (again, something I keep displayed mostly for sentimental reasons). The bottom shelf is mostly oversized coffee table type books (Civil War, WWII, Black’s Law Dictionary are examples).
Family Room. Here I have built-in floor to ceiling shelves, maybe six feet across. We’re in the process of rebuilding the shelves, so the books are piled up in my bedroom. But the way I had it set up before, the top shelf was all BoM studies (mostly FARMS stuff). The next shelf and a half or so was Church history books. Then I had spaces for discrete subjects (each taking considerably less than a full shelf), such as Dead Sea Scrolls, Egyptian religion, Mormon apologetics, Mormon music, modern languages, English grammar, etc. Towards the bottom I had general English literature, mostly classics type stuff. (My favorite “for fun” reading is Victorian novels: Austen, the Brontes, Hardy, etc.). Again, the bottom shelf is mostly oversize stuff: genealogy books, “how to” books, travel books, etc.
Den. In my den I have two Ikea white bookshelves. This room is dedicated mostly to Mormon periodical literature. So, on the shelf nearest my desk, the top shelf is my pile of books in line for me to read, and I’m behind so it’s pretty much full. The next shelf down is JBMS and FR. The next shelf and a half, double stacked, are Dialogue, and then two multi-volume Bible dicitonaries (Interpreter’s in the back and Anchor in front). On the bottom shelf is Sunstone. On the smaller shelf in the closet I’ve got JMH and BYU Studies, together with miscellaneous stuff like Biblical Archaeology Review.
Pantry. In the pantry I have a large, substantial “This End Up” book hutch, also double stacked. On the back part of the shelves is my Anchor Bible collection, which I’ll probably complete about the time that I die. On the front are studies and reference works relating to biblical studies. At the bottom behind cupboard-type doors are two shelves. On the top shelf is my collection of BoA materials, which is pretty extensive for a regular member living away from Utah. On the bottom shelf are copies of articles and books that were references for articles I’ve written.
So, tell us about your bookshelves…