I’ve been steadily collecting books since my undergraduate year of college. (Or, perhaps, more accurately, since my childhood.) Once my husband and I bought a house, I actually had a place to put them. That meant in boxes in the cold, dark basement.
Then I had my first baby and I quit my job. I started spending a lot more time at home. This time became unbearably quiet and long, so I desperately tried to fill it by leaving the house. We would do baby music classes, go on walks with friends, visit the park, go to playgroup, visit the library, have lunch with daddy at work, and go shopping. However, when you only have one income, shopping every day isn’t the best idea.
I took to visiting the local thrift store and browsing through the books. I even found some great toys for my daughter. It is amazing what great condition some of that stuff is in. (It is also amazing what bad condition some of the stuff is in.) I began buying books for a dollar or less, and then bringing them home to read. I read and they accumulated. I couldn’t bear to part with some of them. They were my friends.
So more of them ended up in boxes in the basement. And my bored time at home became time to think about rearranging/decorating/furnishing our house. We actually had quite a few nice pieces of furniture from before we had children. But I didn’t have many bookshelves. Eventually, I got them. And I started putting books in places that weren’t necessarily meant for books, but that worked out just fine. You can see the results of my book storage in my Decorating with Books post.
My husband has also started buying me more books. He has always gotten me a leatherbound book from Barnes and Noble for Christmas, but since I started this blog, he now knows what I like to read (and more about those books), so he has started buying nice copies of the books I already love and adore.
I’m telling you all of this to explain (partly) why I have so many books and to explain why I have multiple copies of many books. I recently realized this, so I am getting rid of the multiples. But before I do, I thought I’d share them with you.
Here are the books that I have two (or three!) copies of.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
You really can’t have enough of these around. I mean, what if one of my friends wants to borrow it?
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
I adore these stories. When my husband and I used to commute to the same city for work, we would listen to audio books together. This was one of the books we listened to. We are now watching the new BBC Sherlock series (which takes a painfully long time to be produced and to be available on Netflix). I sure wish they could create more than three episodes a year.
This is one of my favorite books. I’ve read it multiple times, so it stands to reason that I have multiple copies.
I have only read this once and that may be enough. But I did love it. It’s Tolstoy’s darn War and Peace that I can’t seem to get through, despite starting it at least three times in the last 12 years. My husband also knew that I already had a copy of it, but he couldn’t resist getting the new copy. Now I have one for each room. Purple for the living room bookshelves and red and blue and cream for the family room shelves. Perfect!
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
I don’t really even like this book, but I have read it a few times and have even written papers on it for classes in both my undergraduate and graduate work. That’s why I have so many copies. I guess I kept forgetting that I already had one, and then my husband purchased the beautiful Hemingway volume that contains it again.
Absalom! Absalom! by William Faulkner
I appreciate this book, but I wouldn’t say that I liked it. It is a tough one to read, both in content and in form. I have one copy from reading it for a graduate class and one from a friend’s used book pile.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I bought the paperback at a thrift store. My husband bought the hardback version (in my favorite color!). Guess which one I’m keeping? (Or should I keep both? One for my daughters and one for me?)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles and The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
Those two little paperback versions are from a thrift store and don’t even have ISBN numbers, so I can’t trade them on a book swapping website. And when I did read those books for a class assignment (which didn’t feel like an assignment because I loved them both so much), I ended up reading them from the gigantic tome that contains all of Hardy’s most popular work. I really need to get rid of those little ones.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Again, I think I’ll keep the pretty version. The other one I bought used just to have, but I wasn’t pleased with the version to begin with.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I love this book. Two copies isn’t enough!
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
I seriously have no idea how I ended up with both of these. They are both thrift store copies. I may have forgotten that I had one and then purchased it again. I did enjoy this book. I actually read a library copy before buying either of these. Maybe I needed one for a class?
This entire exercise calls for a more detailed inventory of my book collection. But that probably won’t happen. I like to be organized, but I also like to have piles of books lying around everywhere.
What books do you have two or more copies of and why?
I just found your blog today and have spent the morning making up for lost time. It’s so good! We have very similar reading taste and have even blogged about the same books from time to time. As for the books I have duplicate copies of, Anna Karenina is definitely one of them, and Mark Twain, and Arthur Conan Doyle. I see that for many of your duplicates you, like me, have one readable copy and one beautiful-to-look-at copy. One to stuff in your bag and one to adorn your bookshelf. Those vintage cover designs are gorgeous; don’t cull those, whatever you do.
Thanks Erin. It is nice to have you here. Yes, the hardcovers with pretty designs will definitely be staying. And I thought about getting rid of the paperbacks, but your comment makes me want to rethink that. They are more “readable” and I can write in them. I like to write in books!
You really didn’t like “The sun also rises?” I think it was quite interesting, something different, although I couldn’t be so much enthusiastic about the bull fights in the book. But the story was really great.
Yeah, the story is good, but it is about such pathetic people. Maybe what I mean to say is that I don’t really like the characters. 🙂
I actually have very few duplicate/multiple editions of books – somehow I have managed to get to avoid buying a second version of my books – and considering I have approx 1000 books, to only have duplicates of maybe 5 books in total is not bad!
I generally always have copies of Jane Eyre and P&P. I had a copy of “The Crimson petal and the White”, gave it away (via http://www.bookcrossing.com), and then saw another copy for €6, so had to get another copy!
Ha! That is awesome. So is bookcrossing a swapping site? I used to use swap but it stopped doing media items, so now I use paperbackswap. I think it is only for the United States, though.
I have moved around so much (multiple continents) that I’ve ended up buying multiple copies of my favourites. That’s one thing I love about eReading and Kindles – if you move, it’s easier to pack one tiny device than twenty boxes of books. I do miss seeing filled bookshelves though…
Good point. I am not a huge fan of ereaders, but they certainly have some distinct advantages. There is nothing quite like a shelf full of books, though! So beautiful.
I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for a few months now, it’s so nice and interesting to read of someone else’s adventures in books. I also have more than one copy of several books, and have chalked it up to just somehow managing to getting gifted or needing a copy and not being able to find the first one. Your blog reminded me that some books are just to precious to dispose of.
I have two copies of “Tom Sawyer” because it was the first book that I read as a chid (10 years old) that had such substance. It was my first heavyweight so to speak. I keep reading it every few years to remind me of the lessons that simple words can convey.
Two copies of Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” because it was the first book that actually lifted me from one era to another with glorious pictures painted in my mind.
Two copies of “The Gathering of Zion” by Wallace Stegner because I have to have an extra copy at all times to gift to friends and family, ah the list and my reasons are almost endless……
I love Stegner, but I haven’t read that one. I probably should since I live in Utah! And yes, I agree: some books are way too precious to dispose of. Those extra copies certainly have sentimental value.
I really like your post! We have a similar taste in books and i enjoyed most of the books you wrote about up. 😀
Thanks! I’m glad to know that somebody has similar taste in books.
Surprisingly I don’t own any duplicate copies of books. Family members have accidentally bought me books I already own for Christmas or birthdays but once they realize, the books returned and they find a new one. When I’m older and have my own place though it wouldn’t surprise me if I end up with duplicates!
You probably will! Time leads, sadly, to the accumulation of more stuff, but also to the loss of memory about what stuff one has! 😉
I find I am not that attached to my books. I actually give most of mine away after reading them. I only keep my very favorites. I do have a handful of really old (1800’s print date) Jane Austen books thought that I inherited, now those are special!
Wow, those are special! I wish I were less of a packrat though and could get rid of more.
Like you I collect a lot of books. Far too many to read probably but that’s beside the point. Inevitably I have also got a few duplicates. Some were bought mistakenly. For example I Agatha Christie books, Probably becasue there ae so many and also because I have a shocking memory so cannot remember if I have it or even read it before. But I also buy duplicates because of the covers. I know it’s all marketing but books are published with such lovely covers sometimes that I feel the shame at buying a book I already have is worth it. To my credit (only a little bit) I do only buy from charity shops and car boots and I have actually given some to my sister in an effort to de-clutter. But I think I will go on buying duplicates if I like the covers. If only because they look so nice.
I agree. It is hard to resist a pretty or colorful or interesting cover. I forget books too, but I keep track of what I read through Goodreads and a word document. That didn’t work because I recently reread one without realizing and when I went to mark it on Goodreads I realized that I already had!
Fun post! And this is a new window into book collecting for me – I didn’t know that people owned multiple copies of books! I am planning on getting another copy of Anna Karenina because somehow I had some car fluid spilled on the copy I have, and you know how I can’t stand damaged books. I’ve felt guilty for wanting to spend money on a duplicate but I’m getting over that. I remember traveling to Paris with my brother and he bought a copy of Lolita in French, even though he doesn’t know a word of French. But I guess now I can understand why he would have wanted to do that.
Your husband is so thoughtful to get you books for your collection!
Yes, my husband is really nice! I do agree that you should get a new copy, especially since it is damaged. I like the idea of buying Lolita in French. It seems romantic and serious.
I was thinking of writing a post about this! I’ve just parted with doubles of Persepolis, The Silmarillion, and The Hours. I have multiple copies of so many books that it would be too many to list in a comment (for example: 5 collected Works of Shakespeare, 3 standalone copies of Hamlet — those for scholarly reasons; and 2 copies of Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion (still!)). You’ve inspired me to put that post together!
Whoa! You have a lot of duplicates in some serious stuff. I can’t wait to read your post about this! Definitely write it. 🙂
It may take me a few weeks (or, to be honest, months) but I will! Loved your post, especially all the pictures! You have some really pretty books.
Emily, this is so cool. We sometimes end up with multiple copies, as well, as we can’t find the first one as our Dewey decimal system is not so good. I love remembering the titles from above. Thanks, BTG
Yeah, I’m missing a system of cataloging as well. 🙂 I tend to out my favorites on my plant shelf in my bedroom and the pretty ones go on display in the living room and family room (sometimes by color). The rest are on some basement shelves in alphabetical order, somewhat. It is all messed up!
I have a few copies of Jane Austen’s novels. I am an enthusiastic JA fan and I like collecting different copies. I have a wonderful set of 1930s editions which my mother bought me as a gift. I studied Jane Austen’s novels so I also have everyday copies which I am happy to highlight and generally treat more roughly than my other copies! I also have multiple copies of a few other classic novels, such as Little Women, simply because I like the cover and the illustrations.
Oh yes — I have multiples of Little Women too — same reason. I forgot about that one.
Definitely a good one to have extras of!
Wow, that 1930s set sounds fantastic. What a kind and thoughtful mother you have. Maybe when I finally post about reading Sense and Sensibility you can add to the conversation. I didn’t get much out of it. Not sure why.
I look forward to that post. 🙂 Well, Jane Austen isn’t everyone’s taste. Have you read any other of her books besides Sense & Sensibility?
Yes. I loved Pride and Prejudice. I’ve also read Northanger Abbey (not her best, I know) and Persuasion, if I’m remembering correctly…
Ah yes, Persuasion is a wonderful novel. I was going to recommend it to you if you hadn’t read it as I thought you would like it! It has been described as Austen’s most mature novel. I am always moved by Persuasion.
I have three copies of Leaves of Grass and several copies of the Austen novels — mostly because I like the different covers. 🙂 Some of the Austens are annotated, illustrated editions. Leaves of Grass was one I started falling for as I read, and I wanted a nicer copy. My first copy was ordered online and showed up ABRIDGED. (Yuk!) Then I got a cheap paperback so I could read it in the full, final edition, but I loved it so much I wanted a hardcover. So I still have all of those.
Abridged?!? Oh no they didn’t! 🙂 Something similar happened to me with a book swapping website. I ordered what I thought was Jekyll and Hyde and ended up with an illustrated, simplified children’s version. Boo!
I have three copies of Dracula (one is at my mum’s house) and I was thinking about getting an audio book to listen to in the car as I’m finding less and less time to re-read my favourites these days.
I have two copies of most of Jane Austen’s books too. A pretty set and then a well thumbed set with the corners of the pages turned over in numerous places.
You can’t got wrong with extra copies of those books! And sorry this took so long to appear. Your comment went to spam and I just found it. 🙂
I really loved the pictures of your book covers. Of course on our mission we only have access to digital books or books from the local library. (We know we don’t have room to take any real books home so the digital versions are life savers). At the library we gladly paid the $25 non-Texas resident fee, but with that we have also have been able to access their digital book library (in addition to the hard back books). One thing about digital books, in many cases, you have to rely on a thumbnail picture of the cover to begin to tell what the book might be about. I have certainly looked at a lot of those pictures of covers in the process of picking out books to read. Best wishes, Uncle Ken
I pick book by their covers all the time! I have downloaded some free ebooks and the thumbnails are just generic brown with text for some of those old classics. Some of them are pretty, though. I’m glad you have access to books on your mission! And I’m glad you are coming home soon.
Well, I don’t have too many books double. But I do have a few in different translation. Most of them are kids’ books,Like Harry Potter in German and in English as well as Eragon and a couple from the Animorphs series. Mary Stewart’s “Madam will you talk” I’ve got in English and Icelandic. A couple of times we, Hubby and I, both gave each other the newest book from our favorite Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurdardottir for Christmas (both in Icelandic of course). But then we gave the extra copy to our daughter.
That’s super cool. If I spoke another language, I could see myself doing that. As it is, my two years of Spanish in college wouldn’t help much with trying to read an entire novel in that language. I do wish I were fluent. Maybe someday…
Actually you might try doing exactly that, if you are interested in learning. That’s how I learned most in my extra languages. As a teenager I bought a couple of my favorite books (ones I had read many times in my own language) and reread them in English. It was really exciting to realize how much I understood. Later on I did the same with my third language. It would be best to read something you already know very, very well. And if you get stuck you could then still look into your English copy. On the other hand, if you will never use the foreign language in real life, it might be a waste of time. So if you want to learn Spanish you might want to find yourself some friends who are native Spanish speakers or go on vocation to a country where they speak the language.
What great advice. It really is something I wish I could speak more fluently. I can understand some and read some, so reading more would be a great idea! And I know lots of people who speak it. My parents do (darn them for not immersing me in it as a child!), my brother does (he lived in Honduras for a while), and I have many colleagues and friends who do. Thanks for the encouragement!
When I was a teenager on Long Island I used to ride my bike 3 miles to the nearest Salvation Army, where I bought all sorts of books cheap. One treasure from there that I still have 50 years later is the complete bound volume of Harper’s Weekly for 1857. I think I paid 25¢ for it. Another treasure, also coincidentally from 1857, is A Polyglot of Foreign Proverbs, which includes proverbs in various foreign languages, along with translations into English. And speaking of coincidences, I lived in Honduras for two years.
What neat finds! I’m a little jealous. I once passed up buying an old hard bound edition of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at a thrift store. I went back a few days later kicking myself for not getting it and of course it was already gone. And that is a coincidence! My brother lived there for two years on an LDS mission. Why were you there?
I was a Peace Corps math teacher. I’d like to go back for a visit, but from what I’ve seen in the newspapers and on television, the place has gotten overrun by drug gangs and doesn’t seem safe anymore. That’s a shame, because when I was there I felt safe walking anywhere at any time, even late at night.
Your collection is lovely and I envy you the amazing literature you have accumulated
I too find myself having multiple copies of some of my books! Whenever I go to a used bookstore, flea market, thrift store, I need those older copies! I love having them used and worn in all different versions.
It is hard to resist, especially when they are in good condition!
Before my biography phase I read a lot of World War II fiction. My mother-in-law bought used books for her job at the Senior Citizens Center. After a while books were pulled from their library, and she would send the WW2 books for me. It surprised me, how many duplicate books with different covers were received in those ten-ish years. I purchased a copy of Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett. About a month later two copies, with different covers, arrived in the WW2 “care” package.
What a cool thing for your mother-in-law to do for you! And I like that book streak. I sometimes do that, where I read all kinds of books by the same author or the same subject in a row.
It was very refreshing to see I am not the only one who had multiples. I say had because I finally went through my books and gave away everything I read and knew I wouldn’t read again and my doubles.
That sounds cathartic. I could really do better and declutter many more books than just my doubles!
Yes, I was always taught ‘Books are our friends’. You can never have enough friends. We moved to a smaller house last year and I had to downsize. A lot of my friends now take up residence in my children’s homes. At least I know they will be loved.
It’s true! It sounds like your books have found a good home. I always feel better about giving up things when I know somebody else will use or benefit from them.
I have at least three copies of Pride and Prejudice . . . all gifts! I just went through my book shelves today to weed out some of my books so that my new books can have a home. In each of the copies of Pride and Prejudice, the giver left a note. My first copy came from my favourite high school teacher and the second from my Mom for my birthday. I won’t be giving those copies away! Also, I love that I’m not the only one who has and keeps multiples! 🙂
What neat copies to have. Definitely keep those!
What a great post!! You have some absolutely gorgeous versions of books there, I can appreciate it will be hard to part with some even though you already have them 🙂 Dracula is one of my favourite books, too 🙂
Thanks! Yes, it will be hard to get rid of some. I still haven’t done it. They are sitting in a pile begging me to keep them anyway!
Great post! You have great versions of the books there. 🙂 Your posts have made me want to go and get some of these immediately. :p
Oh good. I hope you enjoy them!