Last week marked the first anniversary of Dad's death so I have been thinking about him quite a lot lately. Whenever I think of Dad it is with a book in his hand. Dad loved books. I mean reeaally loved books. So much so that he had some 6,000 of them. Dad was never a collector in the sense that he didn't collect first editions or books on a specific topic or by a certain author. He was more of a book accumulator like me.
How Mum used to despair about all those books behind couches, under beds and in piles beside chairs. And yet, every time we moved house they were all packed up and taken to the new place where the challenge of finding enough space to put them would begin again.
A person's book collection reveals so much about them. This is what I learnt from Dad's. Dad was into Australian history and folklore; Ireland and the Irish in Australia; horse rearing and racing; wool-classing and farming; horticulture and viticulture; boating and aviation; gardening especially herbs; law, religion and lots of other things. He also had lots of fiction, poetry and plays which he re-read constantly. In his youth he read Jack Kerouac and European writers like Alberto Moravia and Francois Mauriac. More recently he liked Australian authors like Tim Winton, Bryce Courtenay and Thomas Kenneally. He had complete sets of works by Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway. He loved Australian bush poetry.
The bibliomania gene is a strong one and in my house we already have over 3,000 books. Like Dad's books mine are not all be in prisitine condition and cover a bewildering array of subjects but to me each book is a little miracle of someone's creativity and hardwork and I would never part with them. While it was not possible to keep all Dad's books I think we have done a pretty good job of keeping a curated sample. Now all we have to do is make room for them in our own homes!