By L. D. Mitchell on May 2, 2010, as it was published in Fine Books and Collections.

Why do you collect the books you collect?

Is it because you have read those books, they had something meaningful to say to you, and thus you wish to keep copies of them near and dear? Or is it because you hope to read them and you are, like a squirrel in summer, storing them up for a day when intellectual nourishment may be harder to come by?  Perhaps reading has nothing at all to do with your book collecting —  those groaning shelves may merely represent a bit of financial speculation, much like penny stocks or hog futures.

Pose this question to any fairly large but otherwise random group of book collectors and the answers may surprise you. A collector of Descartes, for example, may lead such a hectic life that her book collection says more about her aspirations for deep reading than about the reality of her reading.  Another may collect manga as a respite from the unimaginative tomes she is obligated to read to advance her professional career.  Yet another may collect local histories because she actively re-imagines a new existence for them. Still another may collect cookbooks because each and every one vividly recalls to mind an exquisite aroma, a savory taste, time well spent with beloved but now long-deceased friends or relatives.

Book collectors and book collections, as I hope to show in future posts to this blog, come in an astonishing diversity of shapes, sizes and colors.  Their stories may well be your story.  Or not.

Why do you collect the books you collect…?