Melba and Ted Whatley of Austin, Texas have a home library filled with about 10,000 books. The library is 2,400 square-feet and is connected to their home via a walkway. The library was designed by Rice University professor Carlos Jiménez. It features vaulted ceilings and ten-shelf-high maple bookcases. And it has, in case it wasn’t clear the first time I said it, 10,000 books.
When her husband, Ted, wanted to move back to his hometown of Austin, Texas, Melba made the most of it. Between the two of them, they had accrued a massive collection of books. Ted is a history teacher, so by himself he has a large supply of history and biography books. As an activist and hobbyist of Ancient Greece, Melba brought a wide array of fiction and art books to the table. Together, their library became so massive they needed a separate building to house their tomes.
One of Melba’s favorite series is Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander books. On this series, she says:
I am a generalist—in reading and in life. Thus, my reading list is sloppy and all over the place. Once I read all of Patrick O’Brian’s novels about a naval captain fighting Napoleon’s French—all [twenty] of them. In a row. I loved every minute of it. Later, I was told they were books for men.
Well, that’s just nonsense, Melba! You have 10,000 books in your personal possession and you can read any of those you like. Let the Whatley’s historic collection be a reminder that any book can belong to anyone. And if you want to grow up to be like the Whatleys, then start collecting now! Maybe start with Master and Commander.