May 2016 Archives

Paperbacks

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(Wrote this entry in August 2015, but apparently neglected to post it 'til now.)

Kathleen has finished removing soot from Peter's books, so I've done a quick culling pass on the mass-market paperbacks and put the ones I'm keeping on my bookcase.

(Climbing the library ladder with a hurt knee was a little bit scary, but ended up working out fine.)

These books are only the ones that I rescued from his house in 2005; probably no more than a third of all of his books. (The other two-thirds I left in the house; I imagine they got thrown away.) When I was going through his house, I just grabbed all the books that looked at all interesting to me, figuring I would sort them all later. I rescued about twenty boxes of books at the time, weighing about a thousand pounds total. Then the books sat in my cousin's garage for nine months; I flew up to Tacoma again that December to sort and repack and mail them. And then they sat in my garage at my old house for a year. I was thinking that they'd been in that garage for four years, but I just discovered that in fact I took them out in mid-November 2006 and started putting them on my bookcases (finished in late December); I have no memory of that. A few months later, I even catalogued them using Delicious Library, a book-cataloguing application. But in 2009, I guess I must have packed the books up again when I moved, and then they sat in the garage in my current house for another six years. An entry I posted in 2010 gives some more details.

But I don't seem to have written much about the authors and contents of the books.

Some things I noticed about the paperbacks:

  • He had certain favorite authors. For example (very rough counts):
    • About 10 books by Samuel R. Delany.
    • About 30 by Philip K. Dick.
    • Half a dozen by R. A. Lafferty.
    • About 20 by Keith Laumer.
    • Half a dozen by Fritz Leiber.
    • About 10 by Elmore Leonard.
    • Half a dozen by Larry Niven.
    • About 10 by Norman Spinrad
    • Half a dozen by Jack Vance.
    • About 10 by A. E. Van Vogt
  • He had a lot of short-story anthologies, both sf and non.
  • Speaking of which, Groff Conklin sure did edit a lot of anthologies. Peter had at least half a dozen of those.
  • He had very few books by women. I'm guessing no more than a dozen of these roughly 250 mass-market paperbacks are by women. A fair number of the books are anthologies, but the TOCs I've glanced at are typical of older sf anthologies in that they generally include nothing by women, or sometimes one story by a woman.

My selection mechanism has skewed some things slightly; for example, I think he probably owned most of the John D. MacDonald mysteries, but since I didn't want those, I didn't rescue them and they're not represented in the above list. However, I noticed the lack of female authors even at the time; I think I was less likely to leave behind a book by a woman than a book by a man, so I suspect that the ratio was even more skewed in his full collection.