Last night I helped my dad unpack his beloved books. What I thought would be a quick task turned into a much longer project when I discovered that he has a book shelving system: Civil War books on the second shelf, right hand side, biographies on the lowest shelf, left hand side, World War II books on the auxiliary shelf just below the World War II novels. And so on, and so on.
My brother inherited this trait of holding on to every book he's ever read, I, on the other hand, only need three books at any given time: the one that I just read so I can loan it out, the one I'm currently reading and the one I plan on reading next. All the other books are merely dust magnets that I'm forced to clean when company comes over.
My dad's love of books makes him a fairly easy person to buy presents for. Even when you give him one he already owns he won't let on and seems appreciative. Whenever I discover a double copy on his shelf (especially if it's one that I ordered through Amazon) I just steal it from him when he's not looking and read it myself.
I can't remember most of the books I've sent him for either Father's Day or his birthday but I do know I've given him "Black Hawk Down" by Mark Bowden, "Case Closed" by Gerald Posner, "How The Scots Invented The Modern World" by Aurthur Herman, "Brothers In Battle: Best Of Friends" by William Guarnere and Edward Heffron (I just found out that I went to Jr. High with Guarnere's granddaughter) "Blood and Thunder" by Hampton Sides, "Undaunted Courage" by Stephen E. Ambrose, "The Lion In Autumn" by Frank Fitzpatrick and a bunch of books by PJ O'Rourke. There are others but I'm not sure which ones were bought by me or my brother.
My dad seems much more settled into his new home now that he has his books in plain view. Although when we finished he said, "I thought I had more."
As far as my current book trio is concerned, I've just finished "I Am Charlotte Simmons" by Tom Wolfe, I'm currently reading "The End Of Racism" by Dinesh D'Souza and I'm going to read "What Would Google Do" by Jeff Jarvis next. All three I will eventually either loan out or take to Goodwill.
I believe in having just enough books on a shelf to make you look smart after you've died. Besides, owning only a few books makes moving a heck of a lot easier. Books are great but they're damned heavy.