Our Personal Libraries

printing lettersWhat a blessing it is to live in an age when even the most modest home can treasure its personal library. Public libraries are a community boon, but because of the printing press, books are no longer restricted to the homes of the wealthy.

Books—or, more properly the reading of books—has a direct correlation to human intelligence, knowledge and (occasionally) even to wisdom itself.

In 1905, at the age of seven, C.S. Lewis moved with his family into a large home in the countryside. It was so spacious, in fact that in his autobiography Surprised by Joy, Lewis says, “to a child it seemed less like a house than a city.”

Lewis proceeds to describe the “mansion,” and its most notable feature . . . the profusion of books.

The New House is almost a major character in my story. I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles.

I am a product . . . of endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.

I’m privileged to own a large library. It’s not a matter of pride. It’s a matter of joy. Like Lewis, and most readers of Mere Inkling, I love books. And, like most bibliophiles, I am fascinated by numerous things related to books.

While attending college I worked for a small publisher. I was able to do a bit of writing, but most of the job involved using an enormous Linotype Phototypesetting machine and pasting up the projects. It was an interesting process, which is now long obsolete.


Nevertheless, due to my love for books, reinforced by my own experience as a “printer’s devil,”* I have an affection for items related to publishing. I recently purchased several items from a family business called Type-tiques.

They offer a wide range of reasonably priced letterpress printer’s blocks which look wonderful on bookshelves and literary desktops.**

I also recently accepted an offer for ten free letterpress bookmarks from Peach Farm Studio. You can read about their promotion here. (Since my comment there is still awaiting “moderation,” I’m unsure of the status of the project, but I’ll keep you posted.)


* Just a note that, should you be unfamiliar with the term “printer’s devil,” it’s simply trade parlance for the shop’s apprentice or flunkey.

** When my wife proofread this, she asked if I literally meant “literary desktops.” Then she motioned towards my own book-laden desk and queried, “and where will you put them?” Fortunately, I have lots of shelves!

14 thoughts on “Our Personal Libraries

  1. I have loved reading books since I was young and I do love books. My favorite uncle used to send me such wonderful books every Christmas. We have a library in our home, but I’ve just had to get very selective in the books I bring in to stay. It amazes me when I go into a home with children and there are either no books or very few.

  2. You and my husband are very much alike. I culled my books to one bookshelf. He has too numerous to count. An office lined with them and looking to add more. He is not just well-educated but self-educated, in addition to the college degree. His knowledge of life, heart, and spiritual matters are indeed rare and many come to him for questions about anything. Even phone calls from far away. And they never leave disappointed. His extensive reading has equipped him to influence many.

  3. I love your musings on the home library. My husband and I share a love of books, and our library is our favorite room, though most of our rooms have books in them. Please let your wife know her comment made me laugh out loud. You and I must have similar looking desks.

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  5. Reblogged this on Worthy Books and Things and commented:
    Yes. This is so true. I think of my own childhood and the BOOKS received as Christmas or birthday presents… I remember them in detail. Even this Christmas, although our family has agreed not to purchase gifts, in an attempt at a more meaningful holiday experience, that does not (could not, would not ;-) ) include the twenty plus books that will be under the tree… They are not extras, they are essential. Mind food, soul sustenance.
    Happy holidays! And happy reading!

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