As anyone who has seen my office knows, I've got a lot of books. And yes, they're in alphabetical order by author, with anthologies and non-fiction separated out at the end.
Man, I spent a long time working in bookstores.
But if you look closely, you'll see that most of my books look as if they've never been read. The spines are uncracked, the covers are in mint condition, and none of the pages have folded corners. This isn't too say I haven't read them -- I have -- but it does say something about how obsessive I am about treating my books well.
Can't help myself. I'm just wired that way. And as far as I know, it's the only thing I'm really OCD about.
Of all the books in my office, there are only three that look well-loved and battered. That's because they're the three books I still have from when I was a kid. As far as I know, they're the only ones that I still have from that period in my life.
Each of them is special to me. They helped form the way I look at the world, or the kind of stories I like, or even what I think about religion.
In no particular order, they are a copy of DUNE by Frank Herbert (with the David Lynch film cover), THE KEEP by F. Paul Wilson, and SHADOWLAND by Peter Straub.
I can't count how many times I've read them. I probably take them down once a year or so to re-read them. So far, I have yet to be disappointed. They still resonate with me now as much as they did when I was younger.
Of course, I have new near-mint editions of each of these books, but I always like to re-read my original beaten-up copies. They're like old friends.
I've read a lot of books since I first discovered these three, but none of them has effected me quite so much. There have been a few that came close, but maybe only one or two that have become as important to me as DUNE, THE KEEP, and SHADOWLAND.
And yet, none of those have cracked spines or stains on them. They just haven't been with me long enough to become weathered with age or experience. I'll be interested to see how many of my new favorites will still hold up 20 years later like these do.