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  • Writer's pictureKristina Elyse Butke

My Personal Library Tag

Full bookshelves in a library - my personal library tag
Photo by Emil Widlund via Unsplash

Shelly Swearingen created this tag and I discovered it through Youtuber Michael K. Vaughan. I love talking about my book collection, and I've had collections both in the US and in Japan. My books in Japan recently got donated (I can't take them back to the States with me--I had 196 books in English, and even more in Japanese), so I'm not sure how much of them I can remember, but I'll try. It's been almost six years since I've been back to the States and I have a separate collection of books there as well. It's hard to keep track of them all!


Do you have books around, or do you think of yourself as having a personal library?

I do have a personal library, and have always had one everywhere I've lived. It can be sorted based on topics, such as theater, costumes, art, fantasy, nonfiction, comics, manga, and writing craft books. I do want to go through my books once I get back to America and resort them and donate lots of them. I don't really expect to do theater again in my life, so I don't need books on directing or set design or things like that. I need to make room for the new things I've started getting into, like manga and graphic novels.

What does a “collection “ or “personal library “mean to you?

It is such an important part of me. I think it's a reflection of who I am and what I'm interested in. I have such an attachment to books, that it's really hard for me to get rid of them, and I do get separation anxiety when I don't have them around. It's kind of hard for me to explain!

One of my greatest regrets is buying so many hard copies of books in Japan. While they gave me great comfort, and it was lovely having a library here, I didn't get anywhere close to reading all of those books, and I knew that when it was time for me to move, I couldn't take them all back with me. it's been torture trying to decide which books are keepers and which ones should go. I should've done eBooks from the very beginning, but I didn't get a Kindle until my penultimate year here. Oops.

What is your personal library for?

A lot of it is for my own pleasure and security, but also, I do use it for reference for when I'm writing!

Where is your personal library? Contained to a single room or spread out all about the house?

In Japan, my library is spread out over two rooms. In America, my library is in the basement with a small bookshelf also in my bedroom.

How many books make up your personal library?

As I write this, I don't have the exact number of books on me. I know in Japan, the English books totaled 196 and filled nine boxes. Manga is smaller in size and I fit way more of it on the shelves than the English books... I'm going to assume I owned 400-500 books total, in both Japanese (as manga) and English. The Japanese books are still in my house, waiting to be sorted for shipping and donation. It's going to be so hard to choose the keepers!

How do you organize your personal library?

They're vaguely sorted by topic at home in America, and in Japan, they were sorted by size because of the particular shelving I used wouldn't fit trade paperbacks or hardcovers vertically. I would lay the trade paperbacks and hardcovers horizontally, then where there were gaps, would fill them with mass market paperbacks, which could be shelved vertically.

Do you keep track of your personal library? If so, how?

I like to keep track of my books through the Libib app online. Unfortunately it doesn't recognize ISBNs from Japan, so I use the Wish List feature on Amazon Japan to log all of the Japanese books I own. But Libib has been helpful with logging my English books. You can also use it for movie collections, and I think movies and games, too! When I get back to the States and finish clearing out my old books, I'll start the process of cataloguing them with the keepers I've shipped from Japan. I'll also start keeping track of my DVDs and Blu Rays with the same program.

How do you decide to add a book to your personal library?

Before, I would just buy books based on how I felt, but now I know the preciousness of space. If I buy a physical copy of a book, it's because I really want it and anticipate it will be a keeper, or I buy it because it's beautiful (I do think books can be art!). For any other book, like books that I'm not sure about or am trying on a whim, I'll buy them as eBooks. If an eBook is a keeper, I will buy a hard copy of it to add to my library.

When it’s time to cull your personal library, how do you decide what stays and what goes?

A lot of it will have to do with my personal interests. As I mentioned above, when I cull my books when I get back to America, I'm going to get rid of a lot of theater books, because I strongly feel my time in that arena has passed (I'll keep the ones on costuming, hair, and makeup, because I'm a cosplayer, and they're a helpful historical resource for writing novels, too). I will make more room for comics and manga, since I've really gotten into that quite a bit, and will try to go through my writing craft books to see which ones I think will still be helpful.

There are a lot of classic books from childhood that I had to read in school literature classes that I haven't touched since then, and if they haven't fallen apart (because they're like 20 years old or so), I'll donate them.

Does your personal library have books you haven’t read? May not read?

Unfortunately, my library does contain a lot of books I haven't read. I always intend to read them, and then something newer and shinier comes out that has my attention, and I read those instead.

What do you think about the idea of a zero TBR?

I think it's impossible!!

How do you feel about/towards your personal library?

Just looking at the books that I own gives me great pleasure. It's like your favorite stuffed animal you've kept from childhood, or a security blanket you've held onto all these years...I'm very emotionally dependent on my book collection and I love having one. It may not make sense to other people to have a large collection of books that I haven't read yet, but their very presence makes me feel better.


Wow, I really enjoyed filling this one out! I liked reflecting on all the books I've owned (and hoarded) over the years, and how I keep track of my collections, and what collecting books means to me. So, readers, how do you feel about it? I'm tagging YOU because I want to know! Leave your answers in the comments or link back to your own blog. As always, thanks for reading!


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