As a child I was an avid reader. I would make weekly visits to the local public library and check out many books at one time. Warrior Cats, Redwall, the Hobbit, Star Wars Legends, the Harry Potter books, and anything having to do with World War II were my favorite things to read, at least that I remember. Then, once I had entered public schools (I was homeschooled through elementary), I began to read less. This was very unfortunate, and I hate that it happened. Thankfully, during my junior year of high school, I started reading more regularly again. This was also around the time that I was beginning to investigate Catholicism, so a number of the books that I read were about the Church. I also read many history books at this time. Junior year was the beginning of my book buying habit, too. By my senior year I was getting more into theology and political philosophy and buying books at every opportunity. I especially enjoyed buying used books for cheap. Now, I have an intense interest in collecting books, particularly antique used ones on the topics I am interested in.
Today, I own approximately 500 books, and the number goes up just about every other week. One question I frequently get asked is “are you going to read all those” and the honest answer is no, probably not, though I would like to. For me, collecting books transcends the simple act of reading. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading books. Gaining knowledge and wisdom is enjoyable to me, which is why I have read so much non-fiction these past few years. But beyond just reading, I love finding older books, rare books, books for crazy low prices, high-quality or unique editions, etc. I also imagine that someday I may be able to start a small bookstore, or that some of my books will grow in value. More personally, I want to be able to pass both my love of reading and my collection of books on to my children. Finally, there is a philosophical and political significance to my collecting.
No doubt you have likely heard of “preppers”, people who stockpile resources in the event of a great disaster or societal meltdown. They do so because they fear scarcity and because they want to be ready for a worst-case survival scenario. I have had this kind of thought process for some time now, first for conventional prepping but also, now, for books.
We live in an age of cancel culture. Authors, ideas, and events that do not align with the narrative of the Regime are increasingly being attacked. Books are being taken off the shelves. Statues are being toppled. If Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt are fair game for being branded racist (the most feared and potent accusation today) and having their memories destroyed, then it is not hard to believe that the same can and will happen to many other writers and figures from ages past. As Puritanical Leftism continues to deconstruct everything and wipe out all bigoted wrongthink, I suspect we will see more authors and books that are considered “far Right”, offensive, and dangerous banned or removed from the market in the coming years. I consider this a relevant threat since I am not a supporter of the Regime.
Additionally, public libraries are no longer reliable, especially for me. I am interested in political philosophy, theology, and history, which are genres that are not especially popular with the general public. Many libraries do not have a robust selection of these types of books, which is problematic on my end. Some have said that I can always read them online, but I hate reading from a screen. Plus, there are some additional problems with books being exclusively online. For instance, if it is online, that means it can be taken offline. If a book only exists on Amazon Kindle, then if Amazon decides to take it down or, even further, to take it out of people’s libraries, then it will be difficult or impossible to access.
Another reason for my collecting is preservation.
It is well known that some works simply fall into obscurity throughout history. Recently I have been watching a YouTube channel that frequently talks about “lost media”, a fascinating phenomenon in the modern age. We sometimes forget that media produced even in the last 50 years is still fully at risk of being lost entirely. Websites that were once very active and important have since been erased. Movies and shows have been produced that have since disappeared from the face of the earth for one reason or another. This is not really a new problem; it is a common historical occurrence; but it is one that people often think is impossible in our own time because of our technological advancements. We understand that old works fall into obscurity or disappear. After all, we have very few primary documents from certain time periods throughout history. We also know that some books are only printed for a short time and that few copies exist. Because of this, I sometimes imagine that by collecting books, especially older ones or more obscure ones, I may be preserving a work that would otherwise be lost. I also imagine that some of the new or recent books I am buying could very well be scarce someday. I collect books and works of authors in the hopes of preserving them and the knowledge they contain.
The reason I write all this is firstly just as a fun exercise, but also to explain an interest of mine. I also hope maybe it will inspire someone to start a little library of their own. Every man should have a full bookshelf in his house and should read at least a little bit. Read the classics, read some good fiction. Read books on topics of interest to you. Have books to read and pass on to your children. By doing so you will set yourself apart from the vast majority of people and you will cultivate a sharp mind and a good habit. Reading, and reading well, is at this point an act of dissent against the Regime and the modern world.
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