renaissance drama (4,502), fiction (4,360), fantasy etc (3,695), plays (2,678), William Shakespeare (2,498), criticism and essays (2,350), early modern plays (1,942), James Branch Cabell (1,578), poetry (1,399), mysteries etc (1,396), association (inscribed; bookplate; ephemera etc) (1,308), Shakespeare studies and criticism (1,212), biography (1,181), galleys; arcs; proofs (1,052), journals; periodicals; serials (1,001), horror etc (840), theatre history (836), Shakespeare plays (773), anthologies and collections (649), facsimiles (623), British history (600), 20c drama (597), criticism: early modern subjects (591), restoration and 18c drama (582), CabellStudies (549), bibliography; books about books; book history; publishing (540), mythology and folklore (524), audio (496), language and linguistics (489), medieval literature (non-dramatic) (454), sf etc (441), religion (433), early modern poetry (419), early modern prose (415), strip (407), bibliographies (405), juvi (401), early modern history (391), Arthurian and sub-Roman Britain (367), prose about poetry (359), reference: dictionaries (355), audios completed (350), humor (323), textual studies (289), Wales (289), ancient history (284), Ben Jonson (269), J. 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William Lloyd (80), Edgar Saltus (79), Ballantine Adult Fantasy series (78), cassette (78), middle east etc (78), European history (77), Little Leather Library (76), 18c (74), H. L. Mencken (74), anthologies and collections: early modern (74), Ellen Glasgow (73), playhouses (73), psychology (73), CabellUK (72), Thomas Kyd (70), xerox (69), Thomas Nashe (68), William Haughton (68), cultural studies: early modern subjects (68), Anchor Bible etc (68), Ezra Pound (65), Anthony Mundy (64), Cabell Special Collection (64), Library of America (63), science (63), bookselling (62), google pdf printout (62), CabellStory (62), George Peele (62), John Lyly (62), Pittsburgh (61), James Shirley (61), ld (60), Henry Chettle (60), CabellInclusion (59), concordances (59), writing and usage (58), Geoffrey Chaucer (57), rensum14 (57), dylan (57), France (57), Italy (57), Scotland (57), forgers (56), Students' Facsimile Texts (56), Lord Dunsany (56), Germany (56), ancient history Greece (55), Anglo-Saxon literature (54), Hugh Walpole (53), Robert Nathan (53), spoken word lps (52), Spain (51), Philip Roth (51), REED (51), CabellInscribed (50), ballads (50), music: early modern and medieval (50), drama: French (49), bad quartos (49), 2016p (49), Revels Plays (49), Arden Shakespeare Third Series (49), Anatole France (48), ex libris William C Devecmon (48), ex libris Franklin B Williams Jr (47), esoterica (47), John Keats (46), Auntie Strat (46), Shakespeare: fiction (46), John Donne (46), CabellLineofLove (46), Shakespeare source study (46), ex libris William Durrant Cooper (46), maps and geography (46), Asia (46), dukecont (45), New Cambridge Shakespeare (44), CabellFiguresofEarth (44), Greek literature (44), military (44), Inklings (43), Algernon Blackwood (43), large print (43), Regents Renaissance Drama Series (43), Samuel Beckett (43), festschrifts (42), CabellWitchWoman (41), screenplays (41), Arden Shakespeare Second Series (41), ww2 (41), Julian Symons (41), CabellTheirLivesandLetters (41), John Milton (41), John Payne Collier (40), dlb (40), Roman Britain (40), comix (graphic novels; cartoons; comics; etc) (40), CabellCreamoftheJest (40), Joseph Hergesheimer (40), John Daye (39), Africa (39), Everyman's Library (39), Edmund Spenser (39), CabellCordsofVanity (39), CabellSilverStallion (38), James Stephens (38), CabellTownsendofLichfield (38), CabellDomnei (38), Guy Holt (37), nonce collection (37), John Dryden (37), anthropology (37), CabellChivalry (37), Henslowe's Diary (37), 19c (36), ambroseshakespeare (36), Oscar Wilde (36), [New] Oxford Shakespeare (36), Russia (36), 20c (36), dada and surrealism (35), closet drama and dialogues (35), Sylvia Townsend Warner (35), CabellSomethingAboutEve (35), music: blues (34), architecture (34), Michael Drayton (34), Richard Brome (34), Thomas Lodge (34), William Davenant (33), CabellBibliographies (33), ex libris Joseph Fisher Loewi (33), Charles Dickens (33), James Joyce (33), William Butler Yeats (33), Piers Plowman (33), wishlist (33), CabellContribution (33), Alfred Hitchcock (32), CabellGallantry (32), John Cournos (32), interregnum (31), politics (31), James Tate (31), Sir Philip Sidney (31), shakesfun (31), statistics and mathematics (30), Maurice Hewlett (30), CabellHeirsandAssigns (30), Sherlock Holmes (30), Australia (30), libraries (30), CabellStrawsandPrayerbooks (30), David Lodge (30), ex libris Paul Spencer (30), Regents Restoration Drama Series (29), Tudor Facsimile Text xerox (29), CabellScholarSigned (29), drama: German (29), Anglo-Saxon history and culture (29), David H Keller (29), Vincent Starrett (29), Nathan Field (29), lost plays (28), CabellLibrary (28), CabellRivet (28), CabellHighPlace (28), George Wilkins (28), nature and animals (28), Japan (28), Carl Van Vechten (27), voice and acting (27), Andrew Lang (27), Robert Aickman (27), South Asia (26)
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African/African American Literature, All the World's a Stage, All Writers Considered, Anal-retentives, Ancient History, Anglo-Welsh Literature, Arthurian Legends, Ask LibraryThing, Audiobooks, Author and venue pictures, Baker Street and Beyond, Ballantine Adult Fantasy, Baseball, BBC Radio 3 Listeners, Biblical History, Board for Extreme Thing Advances, Bob Dylan, Book Arts, Book Care and Repair, Book Collectors, Book Quotations, Book Sales, Bookplates/Ex-Libris, Books in 2025: The Future of the Book World, Books in Books, Books on Books, Booksellers, Bookstore Tourism, Bookstores R.I.P., British & Irish Crime Fiction, Brits, BritWit, Canadian Literature, Catholic Tradition, Cats, books, life is good., Combiners!, Common Knowledge, WikiThing, HelpThing, Council of Elrond, Dada & Surrealism, Dictionaries, Dictionaries & other reference books, Elizabethan England, Erotica, Fairy Tale Readers, Fairy Tales Retold, Feminist Theory, Flaggers!, Folio Society Devotees, Frequently Asked Questions, From Avalon to Tir Na Nog, Genealogy@LT, Happy Heathens, Hardboiled / Noir Crime Fiction, History Fans, I Survived the Great Vowel Shift, Infinite Jesters, Inklings, Inscriptions & Dedications, Irish & Celtic Studies, Japanese Literature, Jewish Fiction, Language, Librarything Series, Literary Computing, Maryland Librarythingers, Media Field Discussions, Medieval Europe, Meet the Author, Modern Library Collectors, One Book One Thread, Pedants' corner, Pittsburghers, Rare, Old or Offbeat, Readers Over Sixty, Reading Globally II, Reformation Era: History and Literature, ReJoyce, Roberto Arlt and River Boat Books, Rock 'n' Roll, Records and Record Collections, Roman and Dark Ages Britain, Shakespeare, Someone explain it to me..., Spam Fighters!, Tea!, The Black Orchid (A Nero Wolfe Group), The Chapel of the Abyss, The Clocks Have All Stopped, The Drones Club (all things P.G. Wodehouse), The Globe: Shakespeare, his Contemporaries, and Context, The Hashish Club, The Orphan Book Club, The Rabble Discuss Cabell: James Branch Cabell &c, The Weird Tradition, Tropic of Ideas, University of Maryland, Urban Fantasy, Washington, DC, What the Dickens...?, White Privilege, William Faulkner and his Literary Kin, Written in Stone - The Literary Cemetery, Yard Sales and Remaindered
Sep 21, 2008
Oikea nimi
Bill Lloyd
About My Library

How did I get to have 'too many books'? What does it mean?

My dad was a born-again reader. He was raised reasonably poor in depression-era Pittsburgh, was kicked out of Catholic high school for threatening a priest, and when he returned from WWII he ran numbers for a bit when he couldn’t find work. But then there was the GI Bill, which changed so many lives. Not well-educated, but smart, he earned a degree in psychology at Pitt, inspired by the psychiatrist who treated him for his WWII nightmares (not yet called PTSD). He started a family and became a True Believer in Education – bigots and criminals were not ‘evil’, they were ‘ignorant’, and if we could only educate them… Eventually he earned two more degrees (in epidemiology) and my sisters and I were raised to value books and reading. Our rec-room had a wall of bookshelves, filled with his college English texts, book of the month club selections (including a complete Shakespeare), airport paperbacks, and the Airmont Classics we bought at Toys R Us. “Hi honey, I’m home!”

When I was four years old I asked my mother how to write “My” and I went and wrote that one word in all my storybooks -- and I still have a few of them, so I guess it worked. I was fortunate to have a great reading teacher in 1st grade (thanks, Mrs Gonano!). I spent as much time as I could in the school library and the neighborhood library. Libraries were at the same time safe, ordered places, and sites of boundless, even dangerous, potential. When I was eleven I took all of my books (several dozen!) and taped labels on their spines to create the “Gruenther Library,” named after the street where I lived. Needless to say, I was this particular library’s only patron. English classes (and English teachers -- Hi Miss Baker! Hi Miss Breault!) were my favorites in junior high and high school.

At one time I thought I was going to be an actor, and then I was going to be a poet. I studied Speech & Drama at Catholic U. and English at UMCP and got my B.A. and about a third of an M.A. But somehow I ended up in retail. I managed record stores for ten years, but all along, even when I was peddling Led Zep platters, I was accumulating books, and spending most of my time reading or studying (not necessarily the same thing). Some years previous I had developed a strong interest in Shakespeare and English Renaissance theatre, and since I no longer had easy access to university libraries I began to put together a ‘working library’ to support my studies. (Today my working library of medieval, renaissance, and restoration drama is about 4000 volumes on LT; this does not count related poetry, prose, and history, and drama of other eras.) Eventually I switched to managing bookstores, then became a Buyer for one of the best indies around -- Olsson's Books & Records in the Washington DC area. I stayed there for twenty years, mostly at the Bethesda MD store, until in 2008 Olsson’s bit the dust after 36 years. Before and after Olsson’s I worked at a couple other bookstores.

Being at Olsson’s created a kind of imperfect storm which fed my already ingrained tendency to surround myself with books. As a buyer I was barraged with ARCS (advance reading copies) – I have about 1000 of these in my LT library, and probably another thousand or so in storage. This may seem excessive, but if you figure that’s only 2 arcs a week every week for 20 years you see it’s a very modest selection of what was thrown at me. Then there are “strips”: at some point (at least by the 1980s) the book industry decided it was cheaper to destroy and write off ‘mass-market’ paperbacks than to restock them from returns, so every new-book store is constantly tearing the covers off unsold mass-markets (to submit for credit) and tossing the books themselves into the dumpster. When I first began working at bookstores this horrified me and I scooped up as many as I could. Pretty soon I had a basement full of boxes of coverless paperbacks I didn’t really want to read, so I bit my lip and became pickier about what I saved. I have close to 1000 strips (25+ years, remember) in my LT collection, many of them mysteries or other ‘genre’ paperbacks, though not a few classics and misc as well. Finally there was the bookstore employee discount, combined with being surrounded by books at work, and the occasional opportunity to trade books I’d been given for books I wanted: my walls of books just kept expanding.

In addition to the arcs, strips and the working library and its annexes, I began to treat my other interests in a similar fashion, accumulating a critical mass in the area so that I could have the right books at my fingertips when I was pursuing a thread – hence the quantities of books on poetry, language, Arthuriana, baseball, music, history, religion (though I’m at best a vaguely spiritual agnostic), etc. There are also some areas that at different times I began Collecting with a capitol C -- prominent among them certain fantasy authors (James Branch Cabell, JRR Tolkien, Arthur Machen).

So. Is my library a library? Mos’ def. It more than fills the finished basement, the unfinished basement, and one of the extra bedrooms; it’s more or less organized; and I inhabit it, use it like a library. I pull books I need, stack them by my desk, I have piles to re-shelve. I have it catalogued (thanks, Tim!). And is it a collection? Yes, that too. I Collect books with signatures (& bookplates, etc) of Shakespeareans and theatre scholars; signed and/or firsts of a few contemporary authors who, working in the bookstores, I grew to love; the above-mentioned SFF writers, and etc.-- especially etc. Back in the early '70s, when I was in college, instead of getting high and going to a concert I would get high and roam the library stacks, browsing. I still hang out in the stacks but now they’re mine, and I’m too old to get high.

Do I have too many books? OK, yeah… but (getting defensive) I mean, No! I don’t have too many books, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t hate the South! (oops, slipped into my audiobook there…). Will I read them all, even if I live another 30 years? (I’m 62.) Of course not. But I’ll certainly read a heck of a lot from this library. I read constantly, and am finally retired. I read some stuff on the web but I can’t adapt my habits to e-readers. This library is where I feel comfortable, comforted, at home -- it's where i live. OK, too dramatic, yeah? I do get out and see real people, love my forbearing wife, and family; but to quote Samuel Butler: Lord Macaulay has a passage in which he contrasts the pleasures which a man may derive from books with the inconveniences to which he may be put by his acquaintances. "Plato," he says, "is never sullen. Cervantes is never petulant. Demosthenes never comes unseasonably. Dante never stays too long. No difference of political opinion can alienate Cicero. No heresy can excite the horror of Bossuet." I dare say I might differ from Lord Macaulay in my estimate of some of the writers he has named, but there can be no disputing his main proposition, namely, that we need have no more trouble from any of them than we have a mind to, whereas our friends are not always so easily disposed of.

But that’s a little raw. If Dante were to approach the Gate of my Book Hell, the inscriptions he would see above the portal would be:

I have made a heap of all that I could find...


These fragments I have shored against my ruins.


About Me
They call me Mikey Columbo --
I hate everything, but I have just one more question...
Damascus, MD
Also On
Parhaillaan lukemassa
Robert Aickman, Lloyd Alexander, Kingsley Amis, Kate Atkinson, Alan Ayckbourn, Thomas Whitfield Baldwin, John Banville, Pat Barker, Beaumont and Fletcher, Samuel Beckett, G. E. Bentley, Gerald Eades Bentley, Algernon Blackwood, William Boyd, Rachel Bromwich, Walter R. Brooks, Gerald Bullett, William S. Burroughs, A.S. Byatt, James Branch Cabell, Peter Carey, John Dickson Carr, Michael Chabon, E. K. Chambers, Raymond Chandler, Henry Chettle, Susanna Clarke, John Crowley, David Crystal, John Daye, Thomas Dekker, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Lord Dunsany, Percival Everett, William Faulkner, Anatole France, Michael Frayn, Richard Garnett, W. W. Greg, George Guidall, Robert van Gulik, William Haughton, E. A. J. Honigmann, Lightnin' Hopkins, Leslie Hotson, Howlin' Wolf, James Hynes, MacDonald P. Jackson, M. R. James, Robert Johnson, Edward P. Jones, Ben Jonson, James Joyce, David Kathman, John Keats, Barbara Kingsolver, Bill Knott, Firstname Lastname, Vernon Lee, Elmore Leonard, Margot Livesey, David Lodge, Arthur Machen, Michael Malone, Hilary Mantel, John Marston, Daphne du Maurier, Ed McBain, Ian McEwan, Thomas Middleton, Thomas Morris, John Mortimer, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Nashe, Alan H. Nelson, Flann O'Brien, Stewart O'Nan, Wilfred Owen, Richard Parks, Eric Partridge, Mervyn Peake, Ezra Pound, Pretty Things, Ishmael Reed, Ruth Rendell, Philip Roth, Richard Russo, Edgar Saltus, Dorothy L. Sayers, David Sedaris, William Shakespeare, Hafen Slawkenbergius, James Stephens, Laurence Sterne, Tiffany Stern, Tom Stoppard, Rex Stout, Rosemary Sutcliff, Julian Symons, James Tate, J. R. R. Tolkien, William Trevor, Mark Twain, Tristan Tzara, Sylvia Townsend Warner, John Webster, Donald E. Westlake, what ever, Oscar Wilde, John Dover Wilson, P. G. Wodehouse, William Butler Yeats
Favorite Lists
Local Favorites

Kirjakauppoja: All Books Considered, Carpe Librum Used Bookstore, Daedalus Books & Music - Columbia, Friends of the Library Bookstore - Gaithersburg, MD, Friends of the Library Bookstore - Wheaton, MD, Olsson's - Dupont Circle, Olsson's - Old Town Alexandria, Second Story Books - Rockville, MD, The Last Word - Mt. Airy, MD, Wonder Book Gaithersburg

Kirjastoja: Folger Shakespeare Library, Theodore R. McKeldin Library - University of Maryland, College Park

Muut: Kensington Day of the Book Festival, Stone Ridge Used Book Sale, Walter Johnson High School Annual Used Book Sale

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