Hurray, I found pictures of my old library!
This was back in Ipoh city, of the state of Perak in Malaysia. I worked in Ipoh for eight years and, well, one tends to accumulate the odd book here and there. Those sturdy bookshelves were snapped up for an absolute bargain, thanks to my lovely housemate. It’d taken scores of boxes to move them from my previous cramped house, and once I had finally assembled them on the shelves of my new home, in order of genre and species: Bliss.
How I so loved to stare at the shelves. There’s something comforting about coming home weary from work (I was a journalist) to feast your eyes on those lovely books all stacked out.
And then I resigned my job to study in Edinburgh, and the time came to ship my somewhat expanded collection back to my hometown, in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
That’s in Borneo, by the way, across the frickin’ South China Sea. This was when I learned my library numbered some 600, not including the stacks of magazines, comics and graphic novels. And this was AFTER I had sold three bagfuls of them for cash.
I nearly broke the backs of my poor parents when they flew in to help me pack. They didn’t have to help, bless them, but for some reason my Dad thought I couldn’t do it all on my own.
“SIX HUNDRED!?” I could hear him mentally roar as he stood there staring at the shelves resembling tracts of stubborn battlefields.
In the end, we needed TEN large plastic containers to pack them all in. Later as we huffed and puffed, hauling the sealed containers between us precariously down the stairs, I made sure to look properly contrite while my Dad muttered about how I would be the death of them.
Here is a very rough inventory of my library, off the top of my head:
Fantasy(roughly 30%) – Tolkien, C.J.Cherryh (Chronicles of Morgaine), Fritz Leiber (Lankhmar), Ursula K. Le Guin (Earthsea etc), Dianne Wynne Jones, Megan Whalen Turner (I adore her Attolia books), Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance), Jim Butcher, Piers Anthony (Incarnation series), Wendy and Richard Pini (Elfquest), C.S.Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Steven Jackson (Fighting Fantasy), Mercedes Lackey (Valdermar), Mickey Zucker Reichert (Nightfall), and probably some others I’ve forgotten or despise.
Science Fiction (15%) – Frank Herbert (Dune), Stephen Baxter (Evolution), Star Wars, I am sure there are plenty more, I just can’t remember!
Other Fiction (5%) – The odd classic, thriller, crime and Young Adult titles, such as Anthony Horowitz’s strangely compelling Alex Rider spy series. There’s something about the writing that just hooks you in, and that’s a rare talent.
How-To (8%) – Plenty of books on plot, characters, viewpoint, how to write fantasy and science fiction, and so on.
Non-Fiction (8%) – I keep acquiring books on psychology, first aid, survival, religion, history, wars, castles, conspiracies and so on. Sun Tzu’s Art of War, Machiavelli’s The Prince, and so on.
Manga (15%) – Some titles were given as review copies, since I used to write manga and anime reviews for my newspaper company. But mostly I’m guilty of spending a sinful amount of cash on these in my richer days: Gravitation, Death Note, Fruits Basket, Fake, King of Thorns, Saiyuki, and some significant number of shonen-ai and yaoi titles 🙂
Comics/Graphic Novels (15%) – Strangers in Paradise, Bone, X-Men, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Impulse, A Distant Soil, scores of titles. Clear Marvel slant there.
Magazines (4%) – Stuff, PC Gamer or any other tech or computer gaming magazines. Basically anything geek.
I just wish I took better pictures of my fantasy collection! But ah well, most of them are back in my hometown now, waiting for me.
When I travelled to UK, I did carefully choose and take with me a few favourites. These are the books which, one way or another, inspire me to write fantasy in the first place. A topic for another time!