The Evolution of My Book Collection

I love books. It’s debatable whether I love reading more than I love browsing at bookstores and just hoarding books, but book collecting has probably become my #1 hobby. I’d say that reading itself is a close second.

A few weeks ago, I chronicled “my life in books,” shared what kinds of young adult fiction I was into as a teenager, and told a little about when I started reading again when I got The God Delusion in college. Since then I’ve bought over 130 other “atheist” books, which might sound crazy, and honestly, it probably is. But almost all of my books are used, and most were less than $5 each.

Probably my favorite weekend pastime is perusing the shelves at my three local Half Price Books stores. I can go to each one every couple weeks, and every time I find new books! Even with such a fun and therapeutic experience as bookstore-shopping, I have yet to be able to beat the prices on I do a lot of showrooming, where I find a book in Half Price Books and add it to my Thriftbooks wish list where it is usually less than $4. My book collection is pretty evenly split between these two stores and a third category of “other”—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, independent book stores, library book sales, and old college textbooks that I just kept.

When my book stack was tiny, like in summer 2017 (see below), I kept them in size order. When they grew to a few shelves, I switched to alphabetical by author’s last name. I also used to separate them into an “atheist” category and a “Christian” category. (Most of the photos below only show the atheist category but I did have some Christian ones then as well.) Now that I have five full shelves, I’ve finally taken the leap to categorize them by topic, and I’ve mixed in the “Christian” books together with the “atheist” books, as you can see from the most current picture below. If you click on any of the pictures, by the way, there is an option to view it in full size.

Although I sometimes call them atheist books, I really don’t think that many of them could be classified that way. My categories are: general atheism, cosmology/space, general evolution, human evolution/human history, defending evolution, defending creationism, general science, apologetics, conversion/deconversion, ethics, philosophy, religious history, and religion and politics. What could once have been called an “atheist bookshelf” now more resembles “a collection of books on every topic that I have become passionate about as an atheist with a desire to learn about the world around me.”

If you want to keep up with my book collection, you can check me out on Goodreads! My page is here, and it includes everything in my bookshelf as well as my book reviews and ratings. I’ve also added a sidebar widget to my blog itself so you can see what I’m currently reading!

There is something about my book collection that has been bothering me ever since I noticed it. Even as a woman, I had never given a second thought to the fact that nearly every single book on this shelf is by a man. In the aforementioned fields of study (most notably science, religion, and atheism), books by women are very few and far between. In my collection of 135, I have 9 books by women.

Every book on my shelf by a woman, except Montagu.

As you can see, one of these books is all about two men, one is an anthology of essays by men, one is by a woman and her husband, and of the remaining six, three are obscure, off-the-wall little Christian books that no one has ever heard of. (Edit: I also just figured out that Ashley Montagu is actually a man…) I know that there is more to it than this, and I know absolutely nothing (yet) about the politics of trying to get a nonfiction book published as a woman, but something must change! That may mean more women writing and submitting book proposals, or more women working at publishing companies so that more proposals by women are selected, or something else. Hopefully, one day I can write a nonfiction book in one of these genres and increase that number by at least one.

16 Replies to “The Evolution of My Book Collection”

  1. Goodreads is a great tool. Now following you on it (we’re both currently reading Sapiens). I prefer to rely on my local library but it’s interesting how the God debate induces so much reading. I barely read anything before my crisis of faith nearly 7 years ago, and now I’m always reading something. There’s far more to learn than we can fit in a lifetime, and realizing you were probably wrong about something that was part of your core identity seems to trigger a thirst for more learning. Books are probably the best way to quench that thirst.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love being surrounded by my books, which is why I built an actual library/office in my new place (I picked it out specifically because of the space that screamed “library”).

    I’m sure if there was a previous life, I was a librarian in it. I’ve got 3 walls full of adjustable shelves with nearly 2000 books now (I blame 3 things: atrocious buyback deals at college,, and

    I’m actually using my income tax refund to find the best deal on whatever books are left on my wish list and buying them if available…and finding more humanist books while I’m at it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elaine Pagels has written several books that you might enjoy. She’s best known for her writings on Gnosticism, but has also written on other topics. Her most recent book, “Why Religion?” written after the death of her son, followed by the death of her husband, has received some excellent reviews. Her writing seems to avoid strict belief one way or the other.

    While I don’t own any of her books, I did consult them when writing my own book.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In storage are about 15 big boxes of books. Not all atheist of course. But I made a conscious decision a few years back I hated the books for the fact I had to lug them with me all over the place. An Amazon Fire tablet solved that.

    Liked by 1 person

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