The Assembled Atheneum
Happy New Year! I’ll miss 2013: it was a truly special year for me. And I do love odd numbers. But this upcoming year holds much promise, which I will be discussing on Sunday. For today, I thought I’d look back at the books I acquired in 2013! Considering I enjoy building my hypothetical bookcase in my atheneum posts, it seemed interesting to see how that compares to my actual buying habits.
This is the first year I’ve had any disposable income, so it’s the first year in ages I’ve bought books. I ended up using Better World Books as my source, for both their ethics and prices. This year I spent $69.55 on 25 books. I also received 21 books as gifts, most from my mother who used my wish list to also order from Better World Books.
Starting with my books…aside from the Spanish pocket dictionary and Ecuador guidebook (which won’t count in the following analyses), all of these are either by favourite authors or natural history books (you can click on the picture to enlarge it and see the titles). They’re about evenly divided between novels (no short stories or poetry) and nonfiction, between international and US/UK authors, and, excepting the natural history books, between authors of colour and white authors. Of the 23 books, 13 are ones I’ve read before and 10 are new to me; if I take out the natural history books, the ratio becomes even more skewed at 12:6. I prefer to stock my shelves with books and authors I know I can depend on! All of the ones I’ve already read are obviously books I’ve adored.
Overall, I think this stack accurately reflects my current reading habits and interests, except for the lack of classics, because I put those on my Nook instead. It was dictated in part by which books were available as trade paperbacks and counted for the sales Better World Books hosts, but I have so many favourite authors that I still had plenty of options! I haven’t yet read any of the new-to-me books I got, because I’m saving them for after I move (my new library system doesn’t have the same generous holds and interlibrary loan policies as my current one, so I imagine I’ll be looking to my own shelves a bit more), but I feel confident recommending any of the books in the picture if they catch your eye.
And here are the presents! There are 3 crafting books at the bottom (1 knitting, 2 sewing), and the rest also divide quite evenly between nonfiction and fiction, with a poetry collection for good measure (the Atwood). 8 are books I’ve read before and am happy to have easy access to for rereading, and there are 5 natural history books! Lots of international authors; in fact, only the Byatt and Gaiman are US/UK fiction. Of course those home base authors are much more heavily represented in the nonfiction. As above, except for the natural history books, these represent some of my very favourite authors and titles, so I definitely recommend everything in the picture!
Today or tomorrow I’ll add these piles to my actual bookcases, working things in here and there. I think I own between 200 and 300 books, so together these represent a big addition, and it will be interesting to see how my bookshelves evolve with them. I mentioned ages ago that, as I stopped buying books, my shelves were a bit frozen in time, reflecting an earlier reading self. Now, I’d happily say they’re becoming truer to who I am as a reader today. I’m not sure if I’ll have a lot of disposable income in the upcoming year ($70 seems like so much money!), but I plan to visit some library sales at least, and I’m sure I’ll treat myself to a package or two from Better World Books.
Oh! I almost forgot ebooks! Of course I added bunches of free classics, and used my fabulous library for most of the other ebooks I read, but I also bought 2 ebooks before I went to Ecuador, so that when the library ebooks expired (3 weeks) I’d have something other than classics to read. I ended up selecting The Bill McKibben Reader (by one of my favourite authors, this collection offered a lot of pages for not a lot of money) and Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent by Lyanda Lynn Haupt (this was very topical, as I was exploring multiple ecosystems in a country with one of the most diverse bird populations on the planet). I read both during my trip, loved both, and am happy that I’ll be able to reread them easily in the future. I currently have a small gift card, enough for 1 ebook, and I’m sure I want to buy a Susanna Kearsley novel, but I haven’t decided yet if I should save it for her new release or get one of the ones I’ve already read and loved. I only own The Winter Sea, which I bought a couple of years ago during a publisher special for only $2. I prefer having her works as ebooks, since they’re comfort reading for me, and when I’m too sick to hold an ordinary book, I can still read ebooks.
I’m curious, for those readers who also buy books, if you buy with a plan or at whim, and if your buying reflects your reading tastes or is somehow skewed. I now have more books on natural history than any other specific nonfiction topic, despite only beginning to get interested in it! And of course, let me know if we share any favourite authors. :)