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Saturday, July 10, 2004

Books, books, and books

The quiz on books that has been making the rounds, and the poll over at Mental Multivitamin reminded me of my best and worst book experience yet.

A few years back, I traveled up to Georgia one weekend with my brother-in-law, who had been named executor of his second cousin's estate, to take a look at some antique furniture he thought I might be interested in buying from the estate before he turned all the contents over to an auctioneer.

Colonel Bill, the deceased second cousin, had been an Air Force World War II hero, stationed in Europe for many years. He was also a pack rat, and in addition to a house filled with antiques, he had a large barn packed with other miscellaneous treasures. The biggest find was that all four walls of the barn, floor to ceiling, were covered with the entire contents of the Wiesbaden Air Force Base's library that he had purchased when the library was closed. They were even in Dewey decimal order. The antiques dealer was not interested in the books and told me I could help myself.

Colonel Bill also had several sets of luggage, which the dealer was not interested in. I had two days to pack two suitcases, the limit the airline would allow for checked baggage, with anything I wanted.

It was torture. I ended up with various scientific field guides, books on animal trapping and tracking, celestial navigation, botanical guides, surveying manuals, first editions of Boy and Girl Scout manuals...

In retrospect, I should have bought the two standard issue Air Force trunks he had, stenciled Roswell, AFB, and stuffed them full of books to be shipped home. Assuming they were empty, of course.


What is your favorite type of bookstore?
A. A large, well-lit chain store with a cafe and a large selection of books
B. A dark, dusty, used bookstore full of mysterious and vaguely organized books
C. A local independent bookstore that features books by local authors and a self-serve coffee station for customers

A, B, and C, plus online dealers, yard sales, flea markets, museum gift shops, library clearance racks...

What excites you more?
A. Awaiting a new book by a favorite author
B. Discovering a classic you've been wanting to read
C. Receiving a free book from a friend in the mail

Which do you prefer?
A. Fiction
B. Non-fiction
C. A mix of both

What is your favorite of these forms?
A. Novel
B. Short story
C. Poetry

What is your fiction preference?
A. Contemporary fiction
B. Classic novels
C. Genre (mystery, espionage, etc.)

A, B, and C, with a particular weakness for Stephen King

Does the design and condition of the book matter?
A. Yes, I love a well designed book and keep mine in mint condition.
B. No, the words are what matter.
C. Yes and no. I appreciate good design and treat my books with respect, but I am not obsessive about it.

On average how many books do you read a month?
A. One or two
B. Four or five
C. Ten or more

Do you prefer to own or borrow?
A. There is a particular joy in owning a book. I have a large personal library.
B. Why spend money when you can read it for free? I use the public library.
C. Different tools for different job. I own and borrow.

Where do you get (the majority) of your book news?
A. Newspapers
B. Magazines
C. Television
D. Blogs
E. Friends, acquaintances, and other fellow readers
F. Booksellers
G. A combination of the sources above and others, including excellent catalogues

I'm going with MFS's modified version here, and answering G

Are books a professional obsession?
A. Yes, I work or have worked in the field (writer, reviewer, publisher, teacher, librarian, bookseller, etc.).
B. No, I do it for fun.
C. I write the occasional review but have a regular job outside of books.

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