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What do George Lucas, Michael Jackson, and Harry Houdini Have in Common? It Combines Reading and Obsession

Friday, September 15th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

KARL LAGERFELD books-small

I’ve recently discovered the website Literary Hub. Their recent articles include 7 Writers Who Were Also Editors, Fake News and the Rise of Fascism in the 20s, and their entirely cool Most Talked About Books feature (which this week includes John Le Carre and N.K. Jemison).

But my favorite article in their archives is Emily Temple’s piece on 10 Famous Book Hoarders, which includes photos of the libraries of George Lucas, Ernest Hemingway, William Randolph Hearst, Thomas Jefferson, and fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld (300,000 volumes!)

I’m a fairly compulsive book collector myself, though not on the scale of famous genre collectors like David Hartwell, Bob Weinberg, and Frank Robinson. My house doesn’t look anything like the pictures in Temple’s article (it looks more like this). Still, it’s good to see evidence of well adjusted individuals with the same peculiar obsession as myself. Check out the complete article¬†here.

10 Comments »

  1. Great picture of your sanctum, John – but that dog is taking up book room.

    Comment by Thomas Parker - September 15, 2017 7:40 pm

  2. I always thought of John’s Big Green Chair as a leather covered, brass studded wingback style.

    Comment by Tiberius - September 16, 2017 7:27 am

  3. You’ll be glad to know that couch is now covered in books.

    Post links to pictures of your book collections here! (Or if you don’t know how, email me a pic at john@blackgate.com and I’ll do it for you!)

    Comment by John ONeill - September 16, 2017 9:24 am

  4. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150333622432714.335686.711177713&type=1&l=39643d6537

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151996030487714&set=pb.711177713.-2207520000.1505573080.&type=3&theater

    A sampling.

    Comment by Joe H. - September 16, 2017 10:45 am

  5. I was in Canada for my niece’s wedding all weekend, do this is a little late going up… but there’s the photo BG blogger Thomas Parker sent in of his most splendid collection (click for a bigger version):

    garage books-small

    Thomas says:

    “No bibliophile can resist showing his books. I have books in every room of my house, but years ago I “built” a separate room in my garage using nothing but bookcases. This is one wall of that room – the shelves hold a large part of my science fiction/fantasy/horror paperbacks. (And toys too, of course.) The last time I actually counted – 20 or 25 years ago – I had around 4,000 books. I may have picked up a few more since then…”

    Comment by John ONeill - September 18, 2017 12:27 pm

  6. Joe — not only is that a gorgeous collection, but it’s beautifully organized! Kudos. sir.

    I’m especially impressed with your games library. That is an enormously impressive set of boxed sets, especially your TSR collection. They look like they’re in great shape, too. It is one of the most complete sets I have seen (and I’ve seen a lot!) Those sets are getting harder to harder to get… I think it would be almost impossible to duplicate a collection like that today.

    Comment by John ONeill - September 18, 2017 12:32 pm

  7. When I closed on my current dwelling place, almost the first thing I did was measure all of the rooms, then go home and use one of those online furniture arrangers to figure out exactly how many bookcases I could fit along each wall.

    And “lots of empty expanses of walls” was one of my primary criteria in selecting a place.

    Comment by Joe H. - September 18, 2017 12:42 pm

  8. I was going to post a pic but my shelf is so puny in comparison. Doesn’t help I have boxes of books and games packed away due to lack of space and what’s on the shelf is double stacked (books behind books).

    Comment by Tony Den - September 18, 2017 3:02 pm

  9. John — Thanks! I’m a librarian by avocation if not by trade; hence, the organization. (Also, when your collection gets to a certain size, you need to start organizing or you’ll never be able to find anything …)

    Yeah, I love all of those old TSR boxed sets — there was something so … tangible about getting a couple of booklets and a folded 22×34 map and maybe some cardstock reference sheets. I keep hoping that POD will reach the point that they can actually reproduce something like that.

    Comment by Joe H. - September 18, 2017 3:23 pm

  10. I just moved into a new house. So, unfortunately, a picture of my library would just be a sad stack of sealed up cardboard boxes. :(

    Comment by James McGlothlin - September 18, 2017 11:06 pm


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