I'm told that an awful lot can be learned about a man by walking through his library. If, for example, an entire couple of rows is occupied by biographies of Hitler, you might want to look for the nearest exit. Currently there are upwards of 400 books scattered about my house and my office. It has been great fun deciding which of them to reward by placing them in my new library. I'm sure that over the years new ones will be added, and maybe a few that didn't make the first cut will make an appearance at some point down the road. But for now, 152 titles have made their way onto these magnificent shelves behind my desk:
I have gone to the trouble of taking a written inventory. The following are a list of the most represented authors...
Dean Koontz, 15
William Shakespeare, 10
P.J. O'Rourke, 9
William F. Buckley, 7
Dumas Malone, 5
Jeff Shaara, 5
Christopher Buckley, 4
Pat Conroy, 3
Then there are a score of authors who have two titles represented:
Jon Meacham, Ernest Hemmingway, John Updike, John Feinstein, Marc Eliot, E. L. Doctorow, Stephen Ambrose, William L. Shirer, Burke Davis, G. K. Chesterton, Peggy Noonan, and Mark Twain.
Then comes the writers with one book each:
Edgar Allen Poe, Voltaire, Cervantes, Robert Louis Stevenson, Aristotle, Stephen Crane, Nathaniel Hawthorne*, Jonathan Swift, H.G. Wells, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, Thomas Mann, Jonathan Franzen, H.W. Brands, Amity Shlaes, James Bradley, Winston Churchill, Alf J. Mapp,
Fyodor Dostoevsky, David McCullough, Jonah Goldberg, Joseph Heller, Jack Kerouac, Homer, Robert Penn Warren, Dashiell Hammett, Truman Capote, Aldous Huxley, Harper Lee, Dylan Thomas, Saul Bellow, Thomas Sowell, J. D. Salinger, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Wolfe, John Steinbeck, C.S. Lewis, Sun Tzu, and Erik Metaxas.
One thing I noticed as I was putting this all together, and I would wager a rather large sum that my English Major daughter noticed the same thing....there are only four books in this collection authored by women, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, two books by Peggy Noonan and one by Amity Shlaes. This is profoundly embarrassing to me, especially considering the thousands of brilliant writers out there who happen to be women. Good grief, how did this happen? I probably have a dozen or so upstairs that didn't make the cut, but still...I've got to broaden my horizons.
Anyway, I can't tell you how much I love this new room. I've spent practically every waking moment in here since the furniture was delivered. Everyone of these books have meant something special to me at some point in my life. Having them gathered together in one place feels like walking into a museum of your life, only you're the only one for whom the displays make any sense. I remember being mesmerized by Catcher In The Rye, shamed by To Kill a Mockingbird, astonished by the questions in The Brothers Karamozov. I was terrified by The Nightmare Years, enchanted by The Prince of Tides, humbled by The Everlasting Man, and inspired by Bonhoeffer. Each book made a bold mark on my memory which still remains all these years later.