I'm sure I've mentioned here an online Yahoo Group that I belong to (discovered via Simon as a matter of fact) that began as a way for fans of Persephone Books to share their interest. The group has since branched out and they read widely books that are often (though not always) similar in nature to Persephone titles. Lyn is one of many readers I've come to know through the group, and I was thrilled when she announced she had started blogging. She is amazingly well read, as are the others who belong to the group, and I can't count the number of times I've added titles to my wishlist thanks to discussions in the group. Lyn, who lives in Australia, blogs at I Prefer Reading. And now, over to Lyn:
I'm a librarian who has lived in Melbourne all my life. I've been blogging for the last three years & I've enjoyed the chance to write about the books I'm reading & have a conversation with other bloggers & the people who visit the blog. I love reading classic & middlebrow fiction, detective stories, history & biography. When I'm not reading, I'm cooking, learning how to grow vegies & making life comfortable for my cats, Lucky & Phoebe.
1. Describe your library/bookshelves. Are the books randomly placed or do you have them organized in a special way?
I'm lucky enough to have four walls of bookshelves made from Tasmanian hardwood. I paid for them with part of a legacy from my Dad who I imagined looking down, completely unsurprised at my choice. When the bookshelves went in about 6 years ago, I thought they'd last me forever but, of course, they're almost full & I've started looking at the other walls in my house, planning for more shelves. The books I've read are in alphabetical order but my tbr shelves are organised by subject or imprint. So, my Viragos, Penguin & OUPs are together & books on WWI, literary biographies, crime fiction, Scotland & English history are also together. Maybe I shouldn't confess to this but now that my books are on Library Thing (all 2551 of them), I know exactly how many are unread - 850 which doesn't include nearly 200 on my ereader.
2. Do you like to weed and recycle as you read or do you prefer to hold on to all your books?
I tend to weed when I'm running out of space but I really think I'm down to the core collection of books I can't live without so I'll probably just get more bookshelves!
3. Are your books confined to one area or are they spread out over your house?
I'm pretty good about keeping the books on the shelves but I'm a neat person so it's not a struggle. I keep the books I plan to read soon, as well as the books I've borrowed from work, on my desk & the books I'm actually reading on the table next to my reading chair.
4. How long has your oldest unread book sat on your shelves.
I have some books that have been here so long that it was actually before I started writing the dates in them. I think the books that have been here the longest would be some OUP World's Classics I bought when they were phasing out the cover design so they were quite cheap. They're mid 1980s editions so I probably bought them around 1988-90. They are Felix Holt, the Radical by Eliot, Caleb Williams by Godwin & Sybil by Disraeli & I will read them one day when the mood strikes!
5. What is your most treasured book?
My most treasured book would be my first copy of Antonia Fraser's Mary, Queen of Scots. I have three copies ( the others are an abridged, illustrated edition & a Folio Society edition) but there's no need to enquirre too deeply into why I need multiple copies of my favourite books. The special copy is a 1978 paperback edition in a slipcase but I can still remember buying it at Collins Bookshop at Northland shopping centre. It cost $7.95 & I sat in the back seat of the car while Dad drove home, just gloating over it. The spine is very cracked now as I read it so many times. It was one of the books that nspired my love of history & a fascination with Mary that has persisted ever since.
6. If you could pick one "lost in the stacks/on your bookshelves" book to rediscover and share with other readers, which would it be?
This is a really difficult question. So many of the books I love have been reprinted in recent years or I've discovered them through blogs & reprints by publishers like Persephone, Virago & Greyladies. One book that I don't own a copy of & seems to be almost impossible to get hold of secondhand is a young adult novel I read in the mid 70s. The Youngest Lady-in-waiting by Mara Kay. It's the story of Masha, a young orphan who is sponsored by Grand Duchess Alexandra, wife of the future Nicholas I. She goes to the Smolny Institute, a posh girls school for the Russian aristocracy (this is told in the first book, Masha) & then, when she leaves school, she goes to Court as the Grand Duchess's lady-in-waiting. The book takes place at the time of the mysterious death of Tsar Alexander I & Masha falls in love with a young man who gets involved in the Decembrist Revolution of 1825. I loved the romance & the history. I knew nothing about Russian history & this was the book that began another lifelong passion. I read my school library's copy over & over but I've never seen a copy since I left school. So, I don't actually have a copy on my bookshelves but I would love someone to reprint it so I could read it again.
So, if you've been following this series of posts, are you like me and scan the shelves and stacks in the photos for titles on spines to see if you recognize the books (or like me, note down titles you don't recognize to look up later and maybe add to your wishlist?)? It's quite dangerous to browse in other reader's personal libraries I'm finding! (Though entirely a pleasure, too).
Many thanks to Lyn for sharing photos of his bookshelves and piles with us. Check back next Friday for a peek into another reader's library.