I have too many books. In my office, which takes up the biggest room on the lowest level of my split-level house, the walls are covered with bookshelves. In them, in addition to books, are musical scores, records, audio tapes, CDs, and DVDs. The rooms on both sides of the office also have bookshelves. One room is devoted to copies of books I have written; the other to books of all descriptions.

Because I am a writer and linguist, dictionaries abound. In English, I have handy the Webster’s Unabridged, the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, two dictionaries of American slang, several thesauruses, and a etymological dictionary. And on my computer, I have both the Webster’s Unabridged and the full Oxford English Dictionary.

Then there are multiple dictionaries in the seven languages I’ve worked in—Vietnamese, Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Latin. A prominent and honored place is given to the 1957 edition of Dictionnaire Vietnamien Chinois Français compiled by Eugène Gouin, which I still use as the ultimate authority for the meaning of Vietnamese words. All these books are very large and take up considerable space, especially the ones, like the Gouin, which I keep sitting open and ready for use.

Then there are the more than fifty books I’ve reviewed and my large collection of volumes about Vietnam. Next to them are books written by my fellow authors. Nearby are tomes on subjects I’ve specialized in—music, orchestration, languages, linguistics, and the art of writing.

The problem is that I keep acquiring more and more books, and I don’t have enough room for the ones I already have. I’m piling books on the floor because the shelves are full.

Every few years, I force myself to find books to give away to the local library. That usually happens when I start tripping over the overflow. But I love books. Parting with them is sweet sorrow. Nevertheless, sheer practicality demands I make more room.

Well, okay. One of these days.

2 thoughts on “Books”

  1. Tom, I share your love of books. I couldn’t live without books. I have several thousand. Now we are going to move to a retirement community (Collington, run by the Episcopal Diocese). We will have a two-bedroom & den house. Now I have to downsize. A terrible time! Getting rid of books that I have treasured is a gut-wrenching task. I find that if a book goes to a good home it makes giving it away easier. I will make every effort to find room for most of my books that I continue to use.


  2. I would have expected you, Bob, of all people, to be with me on this one. I was hoping that after the pandemic lockdown is over, we could get together and share reminiscences. Where is Collington? I’m now in Columbia, in a house new to me last year.


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