Books: The Adventures of a Thousand Lifetimes

Good morning everyone!

My designated breakfast spot puts me at a place at our table where I can look over at the 10 bookshelves that line our fireplace, five on each side. 

There are one and a half shelves dedicated to cookbooks.  Anyone who didn’t know me would think that meant that I was extremely interested in cooking.  Those who do know me are rolling on the floor laughing at the thought.  Still, even those of us who cook because it is necessary, not because visions of gourmet meals dance through our heads at night, need a few reference books, which is where the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook and the Joy of Cooking come in.  The rest of the cookbooks are there, I guess, in case I ever desire to elevate cooking from a necessity to a hobby.

DVD Player Photograph from

One shelf contains all of our audiovisual equipment, which I would be absolutely unable to use were it not for the universal remote my husband thoughtfully set up for me.   (It’s better than trying to start the stuff on my own, even if the remote does like him better than it does me.  See, The Differences Between Men and Women.)

A Collection of Seven Nero Wolfe Books

The other seven and a half shelves contain adventures from a thousand lifetimes.  On the top shelf is my Nero Wolfe collection (a grand name for the primarily paperback books I have bought over the years of every Nero Wolfe book I could find.)  If you haven’t yet met Nero Wolfe, his right-hand man Archie Goodwin, his exceptional butler and cook, Fritz Brenning, and Theodore Horstmann, the grumpy gardener who tends the orchid collection on the top floor of the brownstone in New York City where they live, I highly recommend you do so.  They are pure fun.

A relief showing Polybius (I think)

I also have books that were written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.  My favorite of these, so far, is the history of Rome written by Polybius, a Greek general who was a friend of Scipio Africanus (the Roman general who defeated the Carthaginians in Africa).  Polybius was originally taken as a hostage to Rome, ended up becoming Scipio Africanus’s friend and participating in the Carthaginian campaign, then was allowed to return to Greece.  Polybius believed in telling the facts, and nothing but the facts in the history that he wrote.  He died at the venerable age of 90 when he took a fall from his horse while hunting.  Any ancient writer/general with such a full life deserves to have his book at least sampled.

Cover of The Arms of Nemesis, by Steven Saylor

I also have most of the books written by Steven Saylor, a mystery writer whose mysteries are set in Rome during the lives of Cicero and Julius Caesar, and Colleen McCullough’s fictional series on Rome.   Both series are good; it is interesting how their portrayals of the major historical figures of the era are very different.

Patriot Games, by Tom Clancy

Lest you think we are stuck merely in the ancient world, we also have a set of the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan novels, several books about American history during the American Revolution and its aftermath, and the biographies of several presidents.  My favorite presidents are John Adams and Theodore Roosevelt, and they are well-represented on the shelves in front of me.

Photograph of Theodore Roosevelt

Kayla has a couple of books in this set of bookshelves, but most of hers are in the well-filled five shelf bookcase in her room.  Several of my old science fiction/fantasy favorites are in the fireplace bookshelves, including The Dragon and the George, and James P. Hogan’s Series on the gentle giants of Ganymede, but more of those are in the bookcase in the study that Mark built, and the bookcase in the spare bedroom where I have squirreled away many of my oldest and dearest favorites.  (Most of my science books and Christian books are in the study bookcase also.)

Picture of Edward Gibbon

Oh, and I have an unabridged set of Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, all six volumes.  I have only managed to read Volume One through from cover to cover, but before I die I intend to make it through Volumes 2 through 6.

Picture of Louisa May Alcott

A very well-worn paperback version of The Three Musketeers is up there, along with several of my childhood favorites by Louisa May Alcott, a small smattering of romance novels and one volume containing the complete works of William Shakespeare.  Willa Cather’s Death Comes to the Archbishop, a favorite of mine, graces a shelf between The Mapmakers and The Neanderthal’s Necklace.

Quill Pen

We take for granted how powerful the written word can be; how it can transport us away from our current life into lands and times far away from where we are now, or even places that never existed, but we wish did.  The written word makes us think, entertains us, stimulates our imagination and introduces us to countless lives and worlds we never would be able to experience otherwise.  Looking at my bookshelves, I am glad to have to have my own small treasury of that magic, and look forward to participating in it for the rest of my life.

I would love to hear about your favorite books and the books on your bookshelves, if you have time to comment.

Have a great day everyone!


6 responses to “Books: The Adventures of a Thousand Lifetimes

  1. Have you read Morris’ three-volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt? It’s masterful. I’m with you, fascinating man and we have a lot to be thankful to him for, including national parks and busting up monopolies.

    T.R. we need a man like you these days…

    • Thank you, Cliff, for your commment. I have the first book of Edmund Morris’ Theodore Roosevelt trilogy on the bookshelf in the den, and the third book, Colonel Roosevelt, on my Kindle, but I am not sure about Theodore Rex. I know I enjoyed The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and David McCullough’s Mornings on Horseback. The most fascinating part to me of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency is that fact that it was purely accidental, at least to begin with. The bosses in New York urged his nomination as vice-president to the McKinley crowd in order to get him out of New York, where he was driving the party machinery crazy as governor, never imagining that he would end up as president! He also published more books than any other president, and read voraciously every day of his life, things that people don’t really think about usually when they think about Theodore Roosevelt.

  2. Nancy, I loved this article. John Adams is also one of my favorite presidents. I think he is highly underrated. My daughter Sarah-Rachael will enjoy this article too, as she has her own library in her room. Seriously, she could give some small town libraries a run for their money. I have mostly biographies (founding fathers, European royalty, etc.) and some fiction (all of John Grisham’s books) on my bookshelves.

    • Shana, that’s neat! I agree, John Adams is underappreciated, but I also enjoy the fact that of all the founding fathers, he is the one whom we can most approach in terms of his humanity; he has not achieved the almost demi-god status of Washington (who probably deserves his high status; I don’t think our republic would have survived were it not for him) or Jefferson, who was extraordinarily gifted in many things, not just politics. I think we could give some small town libraries a run for their money, too; I know my ancient classics collection (paperback versions of translations of original Greek and Roman writers) does outstrip most local libraries. That’s one reason I started buying the books. We have all of John Grisham’s books, too, but except for one or two, they are audiobooks, because Mark likes to listen to them as he drives to work. I really have a smattering of everything; I was just describing the library bookshelves. In fact, one of the reasons I think Mark gave me the Kindle was that he realized I wouldn’t stop buying books, and the Kindle saves a lot of space! Hope all of you are doing well!

  3. That was a great post, isn’t it odd how we go into peoples houses and if left alone for a minute we immediately check out all their books.. Now I have got to check out yours, great line up.. c

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