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Collecting Oeuvre

Musing Mondays2

Are you currently collecting any authors? Why?
Do you have all of their books? If not, why not?
Did you buy all the books in the collection at the same time, or did you buy a book here, a book there? Have you actually read all of the collection? If not, why not?

I have always been a hoarder. If I am more than satisfied with the quality, the chance is I will stock up. This is especially true for shoes and writing instruments. You bet I would do the same on author whose writing style has made an indelible expression on me. The authors of whom I own the entire oeuvre include:

E.M. Forster (to be read: A Passage to India, The Longest Journey, Short Story Collection)
Toni Morrison (to be read, fiction only: Tar Baby, Jazz, Paradise)
James Baldwin (to be read: too many titles to list)
W. Somerset Maugham (to be read: Moon and Sixpence, The Bishop’s Apron, The Magician, etc.)
Jose Saramago (to be read: Cain, The Elephant’s Journey)
Mikhail Bulgakov (to be read: Black Snow–A Theatrical Novel, Great Soviet Short Stories)
L.P. Hartley (to be read: almost everything except for 2 novels I have read)
John Steinbeck (to be read: all the minor works)

Once I have fallen in love with an author, I’ll by all means acquire the entire body of works, unless a specific title is not in stock. I stock up on the books so I can draw my choices from a fuller inventory. I tend not to rush through these great authors because I want to save the books for vacation or when a huge block of time becomes available. It’s my “saving-the-best-for-last” mentality. Most of these authors are not meant to be rushed away or the whole reading experience will be compromised. Toni Morrison books must have their own timing. Bulgakov is heavy on politics and critique of the Soviet Union. Baldwin’s language is too beautiful to be reading in a haste. Somerset Maugham’s keen observation of characters is best accompanied with tea or glass of wine at my leisure.

There are authors whose works I like to acquire in full but have yet to do so: Stewart O’Nan, Anita Brookner, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Alan Hollinghurst, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Wallace Stegner. These are authors whom I have fallen in love/re-discovered this year. There is no reason why I shouldn’t collect all their works–I just don’t have the chance. As you see, the collection is a work in progress, as new favorite authors become available, the list will grow longer. One book at a time and I shall be very pleased. I want to space out all the readings because sometimes I desperately need a good read some slow or stagnant books.

12 Responses

  1. In one way or another I collected all 47 novels by Anthony Trollope, except for two rare ones I was able to get from the NYC Public Library. But as I read them, I tend to give them to another friend who loves Trollope. I try to fight the hoarding instinct. I can purchase and read, but most books I try not to keep. That doesn’t apply however to all my dictionaries and reference books, which make up the bedrock of my library, those stay! The novels come and go.

    • I’m green with jealousy. His works are never complete at any one library or bookstore. In fact, only a few are available new. I consider myself a fan of Trollope but have only read 3 novels. As for dictionaries, I keep them all, even the very first one I was gifted back in 4th grade.

  2. I used to collect authors but I don’t anymore. I like collecting for the sake of collecting but I ended up have too much stuff. Lately, I’ve been collecting covers. I’ve a small collect of NYRB editions and Europa editions because I like the cover art. I also like the books. I think it would be fun to choose one or two books and then collect as many different covers of it as I can find, but I’ve yet to choose which books these would be.

    • NYBR editions can really cost you a fortune. But their covers are wonderful arts of photography. As for collecting authors, I prefer all titles under the same publisher or series, which makes it difficult for translated literature. Now I focus on collection the whole body of works by favorite authors.

  3. Margaret Laurence, Carol Shields, and Margaret Atwood are on my list, among others. I’ve actually read most of their work (except for some short stories), but I tend to collect and not read more recently-discovered favourites. I like knowing they’re there, and I spread them out as desire requires.

  4. I like to collect beloved authors’ entire works as well, but I am not very fastidious about it. I just keep a mental list of people whose oeuvre I would like to read and if I happen to come across those books when browsing at stores, I buy them, but I don’t go out of my way to order them. I guess I like the hunt! 😀

    • I’m more fastidious in making sure the cover is not a movie tie-in edition. Original art or no art would be okay. I like the Penguin orange edition for its cleanliness and simplicity. Like you, I keep a mental tab of my favorite authors and what I have already owned when I’m browsing at the stores.

  5. I would love to own every Murakami out there…including the non-US printings.

    • Do you know that the Japanese usually splits a novel into two or three size B5 paperbacks? Because the Japanese people like to read during commute on the trains.

  6. Does it count to collect authors electronically? I read so much & so fast, that I ran out of room for books in my tiny condo years ago & eReaders have saved me. I do have favorite authors & I like to read in series. I tend to fall into a series, so one glorious summer I read all of the Horatio Hornblower series (via the library) as well as most of Bernard Cornwell’s books which then led me into the non-fiction of that era (i.e, Wellington and Napoleon). I also like to have the same type of edition; since I’m reading ebooks now, I feel the need to go back & buy ebooks of books I already have. I’m more a hoarder than collector I guess.

    • I would be on a spree to buy an author’s books if I like one book. The opposite is also true. One summer I was on a roll of Agatha Christie and I got 10 books all in one sitting when the publisher re=released some titles in hardbacks for $12 each.

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