Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Books On Your Shelf ala Janet Lane Walters

Just this morning while deciding what to write about here today, I looked at the variety of research books on my shelves. I could go to the library or search the internet for the facts I need when doing research and I do, especially when what I want isn't found among the variety of books there. Some of them I'm not sure why they're there but I keep them.

What about you? Do you have books on your shelf that you scratch your head and wonder why you have them? Do they come in handy when you need some fact and you're not sure where you'll find them.

I'll talk about some of these books. There are a lot of baby name books and none of them are the same. Then there are the books geared toward mystery writing like ones about poisons, scenes of the crime. I have a lot of history books about specific times. The ones I often delve into are dictionaries one with seven languages and one on English Entymology. I have books on weapons and types of fighting and the art of war.

Then there are those about various cultures. Ancient Egypt, the Celts, Indians of the Americas, a lot on the Incas and the Aztecs. There are books like life in a medieval village or of Imperial Japan. There are books that have house and apartment plans. Once that show a castle of a village in Ancient Egypt.

I can't forget to mention all the ones on Astrology, ESP, alternate methods of medicine and the ones that give medical information.

What amazes me the most is how often I've lifted one of these books from the shelf to find the little detail I've needed to help develop a milieu, a character, a setting and even to find the seeds for a plot.

What about you? Do you have books on your shelf that only a writer would find of use as they creat a world peopled by characters you want everyone to read? Do you find inspiration from these books?


  1. Yes, I do, everything from an ancient Encyclopedia Britannica to Time-Life book collections on Mysteries of the Unknown and The Enchanted World through my approximately eight to ten feet of shelf space devoted solely to true ghost stories and other paranormal phenomena. (My other huge collection is comprised of the music I listen to when I write, but that's whole different topic!)

  2. First of all, glad to learn Janet's middle name - Lane. Second, I have books I not only wonder where I got them but why I have them. Yet I wouldn't part with them for the world. I also have a series of knowledge cards that I use now and then. Very handy. I'm not sure who is happier for my research, the reader or me. Yes, I'm sure. Me.

  3. When I first started writing I bought all kinds of books about writing. Then I needed books about the subjects my stories covered, especially the historical ones. I have a huge library of Civil War books now. For my animal stories I needed books about animals of course. And so on. I don't use them often, but it's nice to know they're available if I need them.