Scratch the surface of any avid reader/book lover and chances are you will find a book collector. Young women out there, be warned! If the man you are about to marry loves to read, you may end up sacrificing significant portions of your family budget and valuable household space to his passion for collecting books. When I met my husband, Dennis, I was aware that he loved books and liked to buy them. Little did I know, 38 years later I have an entire bedroom closet, 75% of the adjoining bedroom, and every other available space in our home occupied by books and magazines. As I ponder retirement in the upcoming years and a possible move to a home nearer my grandchildren, I am wondering just how many of these books will come with us. In my more entrepreneurial moments I dream of owning a book store/quilting store. Quilting is my passion, but we won't get into that right now.
Browse articles on the Internet about book collecting and you may find articles on developing a book collection. Suggestions include focusing on a newer up-and-coming writer whose books may increase in interest and value as the years pass, or selecting an area of interest such as architecture in the early twentieth century with a focus on Frank Lloyd Wright. At the outset, my husband's collecting focused on Civil War history and biography, but he soon branched out into World Wars I and II, biographies of military figures, and all the U.S. presidents. Now he collects on artists Van Gogh, Rodin, and Modigliani, authors, and Supreme Court Justices. Truth be told, he also loves books on gangsters, film and film stars, gambling, medieval art, and church history.
I long ago stopped trying to buy Dennis a book, because he would undoubtedly have already bought what I had in mind. Occasionally he will ask me to order something for him. His most recent request is Island of Vice by Richard Zacks subtitled: "Theodore Roosevelt's doomed quest to clean up sin-loving New York. " This is a book that targets three of his collecting passions in one volume: politics, crime, and, presidents. Oh, I forgot, he also loves books on New York, so that makes four targets. How lucky!
Our three sons rarely tolerate my complaining about dad's book collecting obsession. They remind me that he could have many other less desirable habits. I agree, so I try to turn a blind eye to his frequent trips to Half-Price Books, Macs Backs, and other local book stores. The only good side about his reluctance to learn how to navigate the Internet is that he is less likely to develop a habit of buying books online. And while I mourn the closing of some of our favorite haunts like Joseph-Beth, Borders, and the Richmond Town Square Barnes and Noble, the upside is that we have fewer places for him to satisfy his book-buying habit. Did I mention that Dennis worked in bookstores for over 25 years? Don't get me started....
So today, I will sit down and order the Zacks book and remind myself that I love my husband, book-loving passion and all. I happen to know the secret that most online bookstores charge less than the walk-in stores, so at least I make him happy and save a few pennies. P.S. Don't tell Dennis.