Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Home Libraries: Diversity in the Collection

From my Home Library Mission Statement:

Item #2: My home library is a safe space, where I can relax in private, with books enriching, entertaining and utilitarian
. My library will be home to a variety of genres and forms, including literary and functional works such as cookbooks, craft books and blank books for inspiration and my own writing. Done.

Well, not really done, just, you know, in progress.

There are definitely a few things missing from my supposedly well-rounded collection. For one thing, I don't have a Bible. I should probably get one, along with a book on Catholic catechism for the reference section.

My poetry collection is hopelessly out of date because I don't really read contemporary poetry anymore. I'm probably not going to do anything about that.

As for a variety of genres, I read what I read- mostly literary fiction. Once a year I go to a science fiction convention and pick up a book or two to broaden myself a little but I'm happy leaving it at that.

I read very little nonfiction these days, almost none. I have a handful of newish nonfiction books, biographies and memoirs mainly, but I don't really seek them out. As I showed you last week, I've assembled a small collection of Jewish nonfiction as well.

Most of my nonfiction collection lives outside of my living room, in the kitchen and the spare room, which is really my craft room. I divide utilitarian books into two categories in my mind- basic books and special-topic books.

In the kitchen, basic books include things like the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, which is one of those old-school catch-all cookbooks with recipes for everything from cookies to sauces to stews. It'll tell you how long to roast a chicken and how to make elaborate meals from scratch. I never learned to cook from my family so it's the kind of book I need, and I've referred to it many times. A special-topic book would be something like Fran├žois Payard's Chocolate Epiphany, a book of challenging chocolate recipes.

On the crafting side, I have a couple of key reference books- The Encyclopedia of Needlework, Heirloom Machine Quilting and Your First Quilt Book (or it should be!) plus a solid collection of other quilting and embroidery books on special topics like miniatures or paper piecing.

What's to do here? Not much. My nonfiction collection meets my needs in terms of breadth and depth, for the most part, though there are a few gaps left to fill. Do you see gaps in your collection? Where?