29 July 2014


Judging Readers by Their Collections

This Week's Theme:
Authors We Own the Most Books Of

My title is tongue-in-cheek, of course. I know as well as anybody that book buying habits can change over time and that collections can be "curated." (You know who'd have a field day with that word, though? George Orwell.) These days, I tend not to stick to a single author for very long, preferring to choose a new book to read according to how different it is from the book I just finished. But when I was young, my habit was to stockpile as many books as I could by the author I liked most at the moment. It was the first strategy I ever developed for choosing books--and a quick glance at the yellowing, crumbling editions on my shelves will reveal which writers wove the stories of my childhood and youth. But there's no similar "giveaway" for those who left an equally huge impact later on.

Then there were the years I was part of the online Romance community, where reading as many titles as possible by a single author was part of the culture--which, of course, I was determined to assimilate into. (I'm a good immigrant.) Although I don't read much Romance any longer, my holding on to my old books makes it easy for anyone to tell which authors I had "love affairs" with. I'd argue that their disproportionate representation in my personal library no longer says something substantial about me, but neither Alone of The Last Psychiatrist nor David Wong of Cracked.com's End Times Report would let me get away with that. =P

Nonetheless, in a world where reading a book and owning a book aren't always the same thing . . . with a market fond of pushing trilogies and series . . . how do we crunch the numbers? To take an analogy from a different medium, a friend of mine one described the TV series LOST as "a great novel": does this mean that all 121 episodes count as one? I could ask these questions all day, but I really ought to get to the point, aye? So while we're working out our answers, here is my list . . .

A Tenner:
Authors Whose Books Take The Most Space in My Personal Collection

Jo Beverley -- 26 Books
She was my favourite Historical Romance author until I realised she would always suck at writing Catholics. =(

Leigh Greenwood -- 19 Books
His Seven Brothers Western Romance series was key in helping me to evaluate America's War Between The States.

Lisa Kleypas -- 16 Books
I still love her, but now that I've moved on from Romance, I may never read her again.

Madeleine L'Engle -- 15 Books
Since I didn't discover Narnia until I was in uni, she was my C.S. Lewis.

Ann M. Martin -- 14 (Read) Books
I started collecting Baby-sitters Club books a few years ago, but still can't find #15!

Beverly Cleary -- 11 Books
Her total is the sum of all the books I bought for myself plus those I bought for my younger brothers and still have.

Kresley Cole -- 11 Books
I'm just embarrassed that took me that long to see which feminist agenda her Paranormal Romances were pushing.

Julia Quinn -- 10 Books
May I admit that I bought most of her Regency Romances because the covers looked like candy?

C.S. Lewis -- 9 Books
He wouldn't be on this list if The Chronicles of Narnia counted as one book. =P

J.R.R. Tolkien -- 8 Books
But if we also counted The Lord of the Rings as one book, this fellow Inkling wouldn't be here, either!

[UPDATE: I wrote this last paragraph last week, when I thought I had only seven Tolkien books. Now that I've remembered I have eight, Rowling and Cooper shouldn't even be here! =P] There are other authors who could have made the list, like J.K. Rowling--but because I own only her seven Harry Potter books, she'll have to make do with an honourable mention. If there had been one more slot, it would have gone to Susan Cooper, although I have only six of her books, because five are part of the Dark Is Rising sequence, but the sixth is a stand-alone. Another honourable mention goes to Rick Riordan, because I'm committed to getting another boxed set of his books for Christmas (which would bring my total up to the double digits!), but not cheeky enough to give myself the credit in advance. =P And then of course, there's Jane Austen, who has the most books on my classics shelf. Thanks to a friend, I own about fifteen J.D. Robb novels, but I'm not counting them because I've only read five of the lot. Finally, I must mention all the ghost-writing teams who were published under the pseudonyms Caroline Keene, Jamie Suzanne, and Kate William: although I gave all their books away many years ago, the three towers those piles would have made still cast a long shadow today.

Image Sources: a) Forbidden Magic by Jo Beverley, b) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


Angie Tusa said...

I think it's safe to say that King would be at the top of my list without even looking, and probably would have been true even if I wasn't doing a project related to his works. :) I'm kind of curious about what others would qualify now. Probably J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman would be in there for sure.

Samantha said...

Awesome list!

Check out my blog as well. Maybe even hit the follow button? It'd be greatly appreciated! http://bundles-of-books.blogspot.com

Lisa Mandina said...

Madeleine L'Engle and CS Lewis are big ones for me too, just not in my top 10.
Check out my Top 10

Samantha Stewart said...

I've just realised that C S Lewis should probably be on my list as well. I always forget that there's more than one book inside my huge bind up!
Kresley Cole & J R R Tolkien are the only other authors I've heard of on your list. I think I've got 2 books by Cole and 4 by Tolkien. Rowling and Riordan both made it onto my list :)
OMG BABY SITTERS CLUB! I always forget about that series! I think I owned quite a few of them when I was younger. No idea where they all went though!

Tracy said...

We have Lewis and Tolkien in common! Great list!

Here are my Top Ten!

Enbrethiliel said...


Angie -- I actually thought of you while drafting this post. LOL! I had a feeling that King would be #1 for you, but I didn't dare guess the exact number of King books you own! =P

Samantha -- I'm doing my best to check out every blog on the linky. =)

Lisa -- I was surprised how many authors who are truly "big" for me weren't even close to making the list!

Samantha -- While making the TTT rounds, I realised the same thing about William Shakespeare! I have practically all his comedies, but because they're all in one volume, I counted them as a single book. =P

Your BSC books probably went the same place my entire Sweet Valley and Goosebumps collection went. ;-)

Tracy -- It's nice to have authors in common, isn't it? =) Thanks for visiting!

Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed said...

I've only read a few Kresley Cole books and I liked them.

JoAnn said...

I've been enjoying this glimpse of other reader's shelves today. And you are so right - reading a book and owning a book aren't the same thing! I tend to pass on most of my books these days and just hang on to ones I especially love or classics.

Enbrethiliel said...


Nereyda -- Cole is likeable. But by the time I was several books deep in the Immortals After Dark series, I realised she was taking me down an ideological road I really didn't want to go.

JoAnn -- I'm impressed that a new visitor cared to read my (arguably long-winded) introduction. ;-) There are several authors who would have made this list easily, had their books only been available in stores when I was intent on devouring them . . . but all those copies which enriched my life belong to a couple of libraries which I may never visit again.

Leila @ Readers' Oasis said...

This week's top ten has been very interesting indeed--I've been intrigued at the different ways in which people have interpreted the topic and how to answer it. I read lots of L'Engle and CS Lewis in middle school!

Enbrethiliel said...


The unexpected ways that people interpret the topic seems to be half the fun of Top Ten Tuesday! At first, I didn't think multiple copies of one title should count as more than one book . . . but given that people buy them in order to give their favourite writers more support and to express some geeky love, there's also a case for counting them all separately, aye?

Jenni Elyse said...

Interesting take on this week's prompt. I only really started reading about 7 years ago, so my book buying habits haven't had time to change.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Veronika √Čles said...

Amazing list! Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

PurplePR said...

"She was my favourite Historical Romance author until I realised she would always suck at writing Catholics."

This had me rolling in stitches!!

R x


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Funny. I love, no adore, no, more, worship Wrinkle in Time, but I liked nothing else of L'Engle's. Odd.

Enbrethiliel said...


Jenni -- I'm sure it will be interesting for you to track them over time! =) Thanks for returning the visit.

Veronika -- You're welcome!

Rachel -- I'm always happy to amuse! ;-)

Deb -- My favourite L'Engle novel is A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I think I read her Time Quintet out of order, so it wasn't A Wrinkle in Time which hooked me. What was missing in her other novels that you thought Wrinkle got absolutely right?

alibrarianslibrary said...

So many books! I must admit, while I LOVE A Wrinkle in Time, that is the only L'Engle book I have actually finished! One day....one day I will at least finish the Time quartet!

Thanks for stoppin' by! Have a great week!

Anna xoxo said...

CS Lewis would be on my list too if I wouldn't gave those books away. I used to adore them...
It's really fun to see other people's lists :)

StacieSnape said...

Little bit ashamed to say that the only person on your top 10 (not the ones mentioned below it) that I've got or read is C.S. Lewis haha.

Either way great list hun and thank you for stopping by :)

Running N Reading said...

I know what you mean about having borrowed so many books so, for the purposes of this list, they don't "count;" I love that you added Madeleine L'Engle!! If I hadn't taken all of those out from the library, she would definitely have made my list!

ohmagichour said...

I've been intending to give Kleypas a try for awhile -- I keep hearing how good her stuff is, but I don't read a TON of romance. Next time I'm in the mood, she'll be my next pick up for sure!

Nobody said...

Ahh! Beverly Cleary! Awesome list =)

Brandy said...

I love Julia Quinn too, but gave away most of my copies to make shelf space. I'm slowly replacing them with e-books, but it's slow going.

Em said...

Awwww, Beverley Cleary. I need to reread all those books some day. I loved each and every one of the Ramona books as a kid.

Lauren said...

Ann M. Martin!!!! if I counted the books at my parents house, she would have been definitely on my list! I think I own over 150 if you cound tall of the BSC, Little Sister, Super Specials... mysteries <3 I love the BSC!!! Beverly Cleary wasone of my favorites as a child!!! Carolyn Keene also, oh I loved Nancy Drew <3 Your list makes me so nostalgic!!

Emma said...

You have some great books on your list. I will definitely have to check out some of the authors that I am unfamiliar with. Thanks for posting a comment on my blog!

Courtney Reads A Lot said...

Tolkien! I definitely approve! And I loved The Baby-sitters Club! Along with Goosebump and The Sweet Valley Kids books, those were my faves back in the day! I think I still have all of them in my attic. Great list! :D

Shannon Miz said...

I totally did not count books that I don't have in my possession (meaning, they are residing at my parents' house) even though I probably should have. I have well over 200 books by Ann M. Martin (probably well over 300, in truth) and stacks and stacks by Lurlene McDaniel, Lowis Lowry, etc. I have to get them out of storage!

-Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

Amanda Holmes said...

I haven't thought of my Babysitters Club collection in ages!
I only just aquired A Wrinkle in Time...

Angela C. said...

Thanks for checking out my TTT this morning! You make a great point about how book ownership/buying habits change over time. I've purged a lot of my books over the years (sadly, I keep running out of room on my bookcase), so my list would've been very different 5 years ago vs. today.

lipsyy said...

Some of these are new to me. I like the look of that Jo Beverley book though!

Petra said...

Awesome list!
And thanks for stopping by my TTT earlier. :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Librarian -- I'm sure that you will get to the rest someday! =)

Anna -- This list would definitely be different if I had kept all my books from childhood!

Stacie -- Not a Romance reader, then? =) My list would be very different if I had decided not to include the Romances, most of which have just been gathering dust in my home for years! We'd likely have more in common if I had done that!

Tara -- On the other hand, it would be really hard to come up with a Top Ten Borrowed Books/Authors. Memory is so fallible! I think a lot of participants this week were surprised at what their collections said about them after they started counting physical copies of books . . . and I was one of them! LOL!

Emily -- I hope that Kleypas lives up to all the recommendations! =)

Nobody -- I'm glad she made it, too. =) Very few of my favourites from childhood did, because I checked their books out from my school library rather than buying them for myself.

Brandy -- Although I'm not crazy about e-books, if there are any physical books in my collection that I would gladly replace with electronic copies, it would be the Romances. Not all of them, though! But I think Julia Quinn would have a better chance of making the cut than Jo Beverley. LOL!

Em -- Believe it or not, I identified more with Beezus! ;-)

Lauren -- Thanks! I also loved making the TTT rounds this week and seeing how many people had saved their childhood favourites.

Emma -- You're welcome. =) Thanks for returning the visit.

Courtney -- Hmmmm. I wonder if books in the attic count for this TTT. What do you say? LOL!

Shannon -- If you are still the recognised owner, then they still count! But it's true that "out of sight" often means "out of mind." When I got home last night, I noticed a stack of books by an author who could have totally made this list, had I only remembered him . . . which was hard to do because his novels are in the "dead zone" bottom cubbies of my most obscure bookcase. =P

Amanda -- I hope that you like A Wrinkle in Time!It's not my favourite L'Engle novel, but it's definitely the gateway to the rest. =)

Angela -- Oh, gosh! If I didn't purge once every decade or so (I'm too much of a packrat to do it more often!), I'd have TEN bookshelves by now. (For perspective, I currently have three . . . all of which are bursting at the seams! Or joints. Or whatever bookcases have. LOL!)

Lipsyy -- Forbidden Magic is my favourite Jo Beverley novel. It has the feel of a novella, thanks to the pacing and the general light-heartedness, and it's a good way to sample her style if you're new to her. I don't have the edition with the featured cover, though, which is a shame, because I admire it as much as you do.

Petra -- You're welcome. Thanks for dropping by as well!

Lynn said...

EEk - I only know the last two on your list! Still, I think they're pretty excellent authors so I'm still pleased!
Lynn :D

Imogen Elvis said...

You truly are an awesome book collector. I know what you mean about writers not being able to write Catholics. It's so annoying. Like, can't someone get our religion right for once? I think I have more Charles Dickens in my classic's collection than Jane Austen, but only because she only wrote six novels! She's definitely my favourite classical author.

StacieSnape said...

I do read romance, only its most YA haha.

Jacque Smith said...

Great list!! I just started reading my first Rick Riordan novel, The Lightning Thief and plan on reading the rest of the series. I also need to read Tolkien, which is another one of your honorable mentions.

I definitely read all of the Baby Sitters Club books when I was in grade school as well.

Thanks for stopping by my TTT!

Henna Rinne said...

C.S. Lewis would have made to my list if I had counted the Narnia Chronicles as seperate books. I can relate to that, when I was younger I got all books I could from the author I like, almost no matter of the synopsis. Now I look more of the synopsis even if there's a few trusted authors I read always.

Enbrethiliel said...


Lynn -- Let me guess! Lewis and Tolkien? ;-)

Imogen -- Authors getting religion wrong is one of my biggest pet peeves!!!

You're right that this week's TTT topic puts Jane Austen at a disadvantage. I have a friend who loves her and has the unfinished novel The Watsons, so she'd at least score a seven for Austen if she tried this meme. Perhaps the better way to compute who our favourites are is to compare the number of novels by them that we have to the number of novels they actually wrote! But that might end up giving Austen an unfair advantage. ;-)

Stacie -- So far, I'm familiar with only YA Paranormal Romance. But I have a friend who is pushing Contemporaries on me, so I may try some soon. ("Soon" being very relative!)

Jacque -- I'm sure you're enjoying The Lightning Thief! It's a really fun read. =)

Henna -- There were two reasons I ultimately decided not to count all the Chronicles of Narnia as one: a) it would have meant counting The Lord of the Rings as one and bumping Tolkien off my Tenner, too (!!!); b) unlike The Lord of the Rings, the Narnia books weren't conceived as one continuous story--so there's actually a better argument for counting them all separately!

I still have a few trusted authors I will read anything by . . . but I guess it speaks volumes that they're not on the list. =/

maijareads said...

I've never read any Madeleine L'Engle. I think it's because her stuff hasn't really been translated to Finnish (I think only A Wrinkle in Time has been), so I wouldn't have been able to pick them up when I was a kid.

Elizabeth Rodriguez said...

I used to read a lot of books by Jo and Lisa Kleypas, but I don't own a lot of them (we're a military family and they seem to not make it through the moves!)

Thanks for stopping by!

ediesumms said...

Great list! What's been so fun about this week's prompt is it's introducing me to so many writers I hadn't heard of. I love me so historical fiction, so I will have to check out a few of those writers/series you mentioned!

Sheila said...

I am so not a book buyer. The books I own are in no way related to the books I read or like -- they're mostly gifts! The only ones I've really collected are Chesterton (a whole shelf!) and Tolkien (I think seven). If I include my husband's books, I could add in some Dickens and Austen, but that's about it when it comes to duplicate books. I only have one Lewis -- and that at least had better change before my kids learn to read!

Becky Ritta said...

The Baby-sitters Club! My mom refused to buy any of the books for me, but I checked out each and every one from the library. I also owned the board game, and I routinely forced my younger sibs to play with me. Of course, I always won, as they never read any of the books!

Thanks for stopping by my blog :-)

ashley said...

I haven't read historical fiction yet x: A few of these authors I've read their books via a library. I remember being so determined to read the entire series they written that I would check out stacks and stacks!

DMS said...

I haven't read anything by the first three authors on your list, but have read most of the others- especially all the MG authors. I loved Beverly Cleary growing up. :) I especially loved the last line about the shadow those authors cast.

If I come across #15- I will send it to you!

Fun post!

Space Station Mir said...

Love your title! We do have Tolkien, Lewis, and L'Engle in common, I also read plenty of Ann M. Martin and Beverly Cleary as a kid (but sadly gave those books away).

Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard said...

Love your picks! It's so much fun to see what other people have picked. Tolkien, L'Engle and Lewis are favorites of mine, but got bumped by more prolific writers.

Enbrethiliel said...


Maija -- Thanks to strange buying policies by local bookstores, I also had trouble finding L'Engle's novels when I was younger. It took me over a decade to get the fifteen that I have now!

Elizabeth -- I can relate: if it weren't for my family's last big move, I'd still have hundreds of old juvenile series books! If we ever move again, I think that my Romance collection would suffer the most casualties. =P

Edie -- I'm happy to have been of service! =)

Sheila -- This topic has certainly raised the question of what an author would have to mean to you for you to start collecting his books!

Becky -- It's a good thing that you had a library which had the books! I always feel a little bad when I hear about parents refusing to buy books for their children. =(

Ashley -- My school library didn't have multiple copies of popular books, so it had two rules for making sure everyone could read them: 1) students were allowed to borrow only up to four books at a time; and 2) the books needed to be returned in three days. (But if you checked them out on Thursday, you'd have them for four!) You can bet that we all soon learned how to game that system! ;-P

Jess -- You are so sweet to offer! Thanks for that and for being such a great commenter. =)

Space Station Mir -- I've visited dozens of blogs on the linky and yours is the one I have most in common with.

Lark -- It does make me wonder what inherent value we can ascribe to prolific-ness--or whatever the word is! I mean, it's definitely paying off for a bunch of writers . . . but does that also mean that it should?

Britney Jess said...

I love how you included a honorable mention section. Sometimes you just need to include extras on your list!

Enbrethiliel said...


The funny thing is that I normally don't do honourable mentions. I feel that it would take some of the glory away from those who made the Tenner--LOL! But this time around, I wasn't too happy about series writers having an edge (There is a sense in which we can count all the books in a series as one!) and other factors which affected the results, so I thought I'd add an extra paragraph to editorialise. =)

NoelCT said...

Alan Dean Foster - 47

Peter David - 37

Arthur C. Clarke - 26

Enbrethiliel said...


Impressive! =)

The embarrassing part is that I've never heard of the first two authors, although they're clearly very important to you.

NoelCT said...

Also, they're very prolific writers of books which can be very quickly consumed. :)

Fun and Fearless said...

Hi! It's nice to drop by your blog again.

Anyway, I no longer get books from the same author. But at one point I thought I'd get Coelho until someone told me his writing style gets old very fast. And then I saw a lot of Alice Hoffman on sale and decided to grab three. I read "At Risk" and didn't read the other two. The biggest author in my shelf would be George R. R. Martin. Or is it Michael Scott? I don't even have Rowling! Oh, and I only have four Tolkien books. :(

Enbrethiliel said...


At this point, not having any Rowling books is kind of a badge of honour. LOL! And there's no need to feel bad about having only four Tolkien books. Maybe he's just not your kind of writer.