Confessions of a Bibliophile (with pics!)

Confessions of a Bibliophile

Guest Post by Christine Trent

My love affair with books began at age three. My mother says I drove her “completely nuts” asking her to read to me all the time, so she decided that the only way to get me off her back was to have me read to myself. This led to me winning a spelling bee in third grade and a reading contest in the fourth grade. Then the obsession started.

I discovered that I not only like reading books, but collecting them, and I’ve been doing so since I was a child. Yes, I still have all of my old Nancy Drew books. And my copy of The Borrowers that I won from that fourth grade reading contest. By the time I was twelve, I realized that a book was a precious object, not to be treated lightly.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and now you have a woman with hundreds of books of her own who meets and marries a man with hundreds of his own books. Throw in a new mother-in-law who is a retired librarian and it can only mean trouble.

My mother-in-law introduced me to the library world. She gave me a discarded school card catalogue case and taught me how to protect dust jackets in mylar covers, then taught me how to catalogue and shelve books. My next lesson was in minor book repair. My father-in-law has also taught me the basics of bookbinding.

I married into a very biblio-centric family!

Well, our little family grew. First it was one cat, then two, now we have four critters: Caesar, Claudia, Octavian, and Livia. And the books kept coming, which necessitated putting an addition on the house to hold them all. Well, I suppose we could have given some books away, but that’s just crazy talk.

I collected pictures of bookcases and libraries from various architectural magazines for months, created a binder of them with notes about room requirements and what I liked about the various pictures I had torn out. I didn’t realize that a requirement for space to expand our collection to 8,000 (hey, you’ve gotta think ahead), would result in such a large room.

We had a contractor build the shell of the library and paint the interior, and my husband has done all of the finishing work. Anything you see that’s wood, my husband constructed. He installed the patterned wood flooring, built the bookcases, made the trim around the windows and doors, and designed the circular staircase and catwalk railings. After reading an article about an old outdoor shed that historian David McCullough writes in, my husband turned a 3×5 space of the library into what we call The Writing Hut, and it’s where I do all of my writing.

The man is simply amazing with wood and a table saw. Hence why, in my next book, The Princes’ Pavilion (due out in early 2012), the hero is a cabinetmaker.

Confession time: I actually don’t like public libraries. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they exist. My problem is that it’s impossible for me to simply borrow a book. I must own it. Anytime I check a book out of the library, I run to the Internet and buy it, sort of negating the “free” aspect of things.  I spend more time in the library sale room than I ever do browsing the shelves.

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Some of my favorite book and library quotes:

“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.”

Henry Ward Beecher

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“The closest we will ever come to an orderly universe is a good library.”

Ashleigh Brilliant

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“No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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“A house without books is like a room without windows.”

Heinrich Mann

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“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

Mark Twain

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And my all-time favorite quote, which simply sums it all up:

“I cannot live without books.”

Thomas Jefferson writing to John Adams in 1815

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What about you?

Do you have any favorite book quotes?

Any quirky book collecting habits?

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And now for a look at Christine’s amazing library . . .

The Writing Hut (one of my kitties usually naps in the cat bed while I write)

One wing of the catwalk. I wore the Marie Antoinette costume to promote my debut novel, The Queen’s Dollmaker.

One of five “book nooks” in our library.

My husband engineered and hand-built the circular staircase.

A view of the seating area from the catwalk.

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Christine Trent is the author of two historical novels. The Queen’s Dollmaker was released on January 1, 2010. Her second book, A Royal Likeness, appeared on the shelves this past December.

Christine lives in the Mid-Atlantic with her hero of ten years, their four precocious cats, and a collection of about 3,000 catalogued and mylar-covered books (which is growing every day). In addition to her extensive collection of books, she also collects dolls.

To learn more about Christine, please visit her website: Christine Trent, Historical Author.

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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22 Responses to Confessions of a Bibliophile (with pics!)

  1. Wow! That is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Sherrinda says:

    Oh my goodness! That is absolutely amazing! I can’t keep that many books, as I do not have the space. But since I have a Kindle, I can store up to 1500 books that I can carry in my purse! 🙂

  3. Lisa Jordan says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! When I received this email in my inbox, I scanned the pictures and figured it was a library tour. It was! I just didn’t realize it was a personal library. Takes my breath away. 🙂

  4. Julie – thank you for visiting!

    Sherrinda – OK, you’re not going to rat me out to my husband and tell him that instead of spending years building me a library, he should have bought me a Kindle, are you? 🙂

    Lisa – thank you for your kind comments. It has been a true labor of love.

  5. Donna L Bolk says:

    Oh, my, I’ve found my soul sister, but she’s got a much nicer library than me. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Donna – thank YOU for signing onto my Yahoo group!

  7. christicorbett says:

    Christine,

    Thank you so much for sharing photos of your beautiful library and writing space. I have to admit, as a lifelong Nancy Drew fan, I scanned the photos for those books first :).

    Great interview!

    Christi Corbett
    http://christicorbett.wordpress.com

  8. Keli Gwyn says:

    Christine, you’ve mentioned your library in past posts on my blog, but until I saw the pictures, I didn’t know just how beautiful it is. Wow! That circular staircase is mighty impressive. Your hubby done good–real good. =)

    You got a special dress for the release of your debut novel. What are you doing to celebrate the release of your second?

  9. Susan Mason says:

    Wow, Christine! That man is a keeper! How beautiful is that space?

    I’d love to have my own library one day. Thanks for sharing yours!

    Sue

  10. Christi – Ah, the Nancy Drews aren’t in the library, actually. I have a special guest room set up for my nieces, so all of my children’s books are in there. I remember one of the saddest days of my life was when I learned that wasn’t actually a Carolyn Keene.

    Keli – I have another dress! This time the dress matches the one on my cover. It’s undergoing some alterations and then I’ll be wearing it for signings and other events.

  11. It is difficult to know where to begin. One of my fondest childhood moments was the first time I went to story book hour at the library. My first job when in high school was shelving clerk in a regional library (although I spent more time reading in the stacks than shelving them) … I have lugged around so many of them for years and have a huge walk in closet I lined with shelves because I ran out of room.

    One departure I would love to share. I am a supporter of “Friends of the Library” and although I understand (one of my favorite jokes … as a young single mother a friend introduced me to a gorgeous man … however … he was married. She did the he’s not happily married and I said … married men are like borrowing book from the library … if you fall in love with them, you have to bring them back).

    I do donate many books or I use the library to discover which I must own and you may find Kindle a good place to store books you wish to travel with 🙂

    You have a lovely home, a fabulous library and obviously a great soul mate. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. Susan – my husband is a keeper, indeed. And when I married him, I didn’t even realize he had all of this woodworking talent. It was just the cherry on top of the banana split sundae that he is. 🙂

  13. Liz Selvig says:

    Hi Christine,
    So nice to meet you here. I am wowed, as are we all, by the library and by your husband’s amazing talent. Everything is so beautiful! The staircase is a true work of art. As for the books–I haven’t nearly so many, but I do have them in pretty much every part of the house: offices, bedroom, livingroom, kitchen, unfinished family room and storage rooms. And I’m so happy to have found someone else who’d rather own a book than borrow one. I know it’s heresy to librarians (I have a dear friend who is one and admonishes me constantly to use the libraries) but I love knowing I “own the book.” Good luck and enjoy your gorgeous space!

  14. Ramblings – I’m actually a big supporter of Friends of the Library, too. I sort books for the annual public sale they do, and typically spent lots of money at their sale! I absolutely love Friends sales. Some of my greatest finds come from there. I really try to donate books to the library, but it’s so darned hard each year to figure out what I can part with, no matter that I haven’t touched some books in years. 🙂

  15. Liz – you sound like my in-laws, who have shelves in nearly every room of their home. When I first met them and saw how many books they had (double-shelved, too), I knew I had to marry their son. Especially because he thought going to Borders and hanging out for three hours to be a perfectly reasonable date night.

  16. Jill Kemerer says:

    Your “writing hut” is gorgeous! Your husband is so talented. Wow!

    I used to need to own every book I touched, but we moved nine times and that cured me of it! Now I gladly head to the library. I still can’t resist purchasing my favorite authors, though.

  17. Danica says:

    Wow!! I have great library envy now. I keep telling people that my dream library is the one in the movie, My Fair Lady, and now I have yours to compare to! So lovely!

    I just picked up The Queen’s Dollmaker on the Kindle the other day, and it’s just been moved up to the “read next” portion of my list.

  18. Mary says:

    Wow. What a lovely library. That little alcove by the windows looks like a very inviting place to curl up with a book.

    I, too, love books and own many. Some are out on bookshelves, but more are in boxes in the attic and the basement and under the beds. It’s a dream of mine to have a library some day where I can unpack them all and display them. I do have a filing system, so that I know which box to go to if I’m wanting to re-read one of the books that are packed away. Still, for a book lover that’s a less than ideal situation.

  19. What a beautiful home with library! The staircase is marvelous! What an artist-carpenter your husband is!

    Books, oh we were talking about books. I’m too flabbergasted to get my mind back on the subject of books. Books are nice, too. Ha!

    Blessings to you, always, Keli…

  20. Jill – I can see how moving nine times would cure you of collecting much of anything not completely necessary!

    Danica – thank you for moving me forward in your TBR list. If yours is anything like mine, it’s gigantic, and I appreciate being at the top of the e-pile. 🙂

    Mary – my husband and I frequently read together in the alcove. In fact, that’s where he sits to read my manuscripts. I’ve discovered that he’s got a good eye for editing.

    Carol Ann – I will pass your lovely compliments on to my husband, thank you.

  21. LoRee Peery says:

    I have a treasured black and white photograph where I sitting on my mother’s lap while she is reading to me. I was three because my brother’s baby bottle is on a buffet behind us. I’m concentrating so hard, looking at the book, that I’m frowning. My mother instilled in me the love of reading. I was reading on my own at four. I have a library, but nothing like this masterpiece shown in the wonderful photos. Wow, I don’t have words. One of my favorite quotes is “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” —Cicero

  22. LoRee – great quote! It sounds like our mothers both instilled a love of reading at an early age. And, my mother would have also been teaching me at the same time my brother was using a bottle.

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