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10 Famous Book Hoarders

10 October 2018

From The Literary Hub:

I have a hard time getting rid of books, and if you’re reading this space, you probably do too. As Summer Brennan put it, “what kind of degenerate only wants to own 30 books (or fewer) at a time on purpose?” Not anyone I know. But apparently, you only have to own one thousand books to qualify as a book hoarder. Which seems a bit low, to be honest—unless we’re talking about one thousand books in a New York City one-bedroom, in which case, sure.

In general, I’m interested in other people’s book collections. How many books, which ones, how are they kept, where are they kept? So, one rainy afternoon, I started poking around the book collections of famous people, to see which ones happened to be (technical or actual) book hoarders. Some of the results surprised me—though I admit I already knew about Karl Lagerfeld.

. . . .

Karl Lagerfeld: 300,000 books

Karl Lagerfeld has more books than pretty much anybody. During a “master class” at the 2015 International Festival of Fashion and Photography, Lagerfeld explained: “Today, I only collect books; there is no room left for something else. If you go to my house, I’ll have you walk around the books. I ended up with a library of 300,000. It’s a lot for an individual.” No kidding. His collection includes books in French, English, and German, and in order to create more space in his home for all the volumes, he stacks his books sideways—that is, horizontally instead of vertically. Oh, and there’s a catwalk to reach the upper levels. This is Lagerfeld, after all.

. . . .

George Lucas: 27,000 books+

In 1978, George Lucas established the Lucasfilm Research Library—first collecting volumes at his Los Angeles office, and eventually moving the library to the main house at Skywalker Ranch. In addition to the more than 27,000 books, the collection includes over 17,000 films, as well as photographs, periodicals, press clippings, and more. Lucas’s library is not open to the public, but his employees—as well as special guests like Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Clint Eastwood, Steve Martin, Edith Head, and Charlton Heston—are allowed to check things out.

. . . .

Thomas Jefferson: 6,487 books

“I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson famously said. According to the Library of Congress, when the British torched the capital in 1814, Jefferson had built the biggest personal library in the United States—which he then sold to Congress for $23,950. After that, he promptly began acquiring books again (and sold that new collection to pay his debts in 1829).

Link to the rest (including a photos) at The Literary Hub

Books in General

4 Comments to “10 Famous Book Hoarders”

  1. Just a piker, I guess. My husband & I have 28 bookcases in the tiny log cabin and 1400 book boxes in storage (we are way past neurosis here). At a guestimate, that’s probably close to 30000 books.

    We buy almost everything we can as an ebook these days. Slow learners, but we’re getting there…

  2. It’s unlikely that Thomas Jefferson “sold that new collection to pay his debts in 1829.”

    He and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

    • Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.

      Jefferson died in debt but was so famous that none of his creditors pressed their claims in his lifetime. His goods were auctioned after his death to pay his creditors. IIRC Congress voted to buy his library and established the Library of Congress thereby.

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