09 April 2011

How Many Books are Too Many?

I used to be proud of my gaming library. I had a lot of interesting books, some of them unusual, uncommon, or even rare. I still do, in fact. I find it difficult to liquidate my collection, even those games I don't play or rarely look at. I can find something cool, interesting, or amusing in every single one of them, from the art in SLA Industries to the fact that the author of Road Rebels uses the word "riffles" to describe longarms throughout the entire text of his game.

It really only hits me when I have to move. The family and I are relocating to Rhode Island at the end of the month, and this involves taking all of our stuff with us. In speaking with my moving company rep, she mentioned, "Last time, you had 110 book boxes. Do you think you'll need the same amount this time?"

"We haven't gotten that many more books," I answered. "I expect it'll be about the same amount, maybe a couple more."

As I answered her question, I felt a brief pang of guilt. A group of movers will be here in the next couple of weeks to pack, carry, and load my family's extensive library. Books are not lightweight. Yet, being as I'm closer to 40 years old than 30, I don't regret not having to move the boxes myself. I think I'll survive, just as I did when we moved from CA to VA, and from VA to MA.

Really, my primary hobby has been gaming since I was 13 years old (give or take). I bought (or conned my mom into buying me) a copy of the original Monster Manual when I was in 5th or 6th game. Little did I know at the time that I'd eventually have 4 or 5 bookshelves worth of splatbooks, core books, and hardcovers. Not to mention numerous boxed sets from the golden era of tabletop, various board games, card games, Dungeon tiles, miniatures, and a seemingly endless series of three ring binders containing game notes, characters, maps, etc.

But when does my pride in my collection give way to embarrassment at how large it's become?

People collect all sorts of things: music, movies, computer games, stamps, coins, bottles, sports memorabilia, figurines, paintings, sculptures, teddy bears, etc. Heck, I've got a coin collection (which I'm in the process of organizing) that I inherited from my grandfather, most of which consists of foreign coins that he picked up when he was in the Navy during and after World War II. But it's relatively lightweight as compared to my RPG collection.

I suppose my RPG collection would be all the larger if it weren't for my kids. When you're single, or even newlywed, and you have fewer expenses, it seems like a trivial thing to keep up with a number of game lines. As it is, I've really only kept up with D&D 3.5 and Star Wars (in its various editions) since my kids came along. Even now, both those lines are extinct, so there's not much to keep up with. I'm interested in keeping up with Dark Heresy, maybe even Rogue Trader and Deathwatch, when I've got money to spare. Which isn't often.

I guess I'm not terribly embarrassed by my book collection... but I am self-conscious about it. The size won't be growing significantly any time soon, though I suppose I'll continue to add to it when I can.

As a side note, it wasn't solely my books that filled 110 book boxes the last time we moved. My wife owns a substantial library of her own, mostly paperbacks and research books (science, history, sociology, you name it and she probably has a book on it). Who can blame us for being a literate family... besides the movers, that is?

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