Tag: Personal Library

The Gentleman’s Personal Library

In September I posted about my decision to start a personal gentleman’s library made up of books on history, philosophy, science, and the biographies of great men. My goal is to have a respectable collection lining my study when I retire. A man must be surrounded by good books in order to make the most of deep brooding and solid contemplation. This collection is even more important to me now that I will be a father in the near future.A man’s collection of books is a heavy thing, taking up space both in the physical and intellectual realm and I believe that all men should strive to leave behind things that take up space and demand authority.

J R R Tolkien
2nd December 1955: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

It often seems that modern men and our possessions have been relegated to the margins of the household, either hidden away in garages or limited to juvenile toys. I’ve often noticed that when I visit other men’s houses there is almost no sign of their existence. With the exception of the occasional video game console, sports memorabilia if the wife is into sports, and the necessary clothing and toiletries, there is almost nothing that speaks of their habitation. Honestly, looking back, one can find more signs that a family dog lives there. A sad state.

20170928_211824.jpgA library anchors a man to the home and based on its makeup is a window into his intellectual history and development. So I challenge all men to look around their house, what do you leave behind, how will your children picture your presence when you are no longer here? I know that I want to be remembered as a man who loved reading, writing, conversation, and calm thoughtful relaxation surrounded by an ever-growing library.

I started the Barbarian Library with Andrew Robert’s outstanding single-volume biography Napoleon: A Life. From his birth in Corsica, through the French Revolution, Egyptian Campaigns, Republic, Empire, and finally exile and death on St. Helena, this book is a brilliant portrait of one of the greatest military and political minds to walk to Earth. This book was a fantastic starting point for my collection and I recommend that all who are interested in history, warfare, and leadership read this excellent biography. 20171205_191556492666654.jpg

Continuing with the focus on great men I ordered and received today, Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo Da Vinci. I chose this book after listening to the author being interviewed on the A Man’s Life podcast and finding his insights fascinating. Also, I chose Leonardo because in my twenties I studied painting and art history before being turned off by the college scene and postmodern art. I’ve avoided delving into art because it tends to leave a bitter taste in my mouth, but lately I’m slowly becoming interested in Medieval and Renaissance painting, architecture, and music, so I figured why not return to the topic by reading about one of the great masters.

Until next time friends, keep reading the best, writing your best, and enjoying life to the fullest.


Starting a personal library.


Books have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. My grandparents collected books and had a massive collection. Sadly almost all of it was left behind after my grandfather passed away and my grandmother emigrated to the United States. I still have the collected poems of Mihai Eminescu bought for me the year I was born and a two-volume set on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Dated 15Apr1983, 10 days before I was born.

My own collection is sadly a haphazard mishmash of paperbacks, short story collections, stuff I picked up wherever, and the occasional hardback. A few years ago my wife gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas and I fell in love with ebooks. I have over two hundred on my Amazon account, probably more if I count my wife’s collection.



Ebooks are exceptionally convenient, easy to read in bed, and don’t take up space. The last point is important to me because space is valuable in Japan and being in the military means that I have to move around a lot.

But, all great men should have a personal library. A collection of good books worth passing down to one’s children and grandchildren. Physical books that represent solid permanence. So, I’ve decided to start a new collection consisting only of hardcover books focusing on history, philosophy, science, and great literature. I hope that by the time I retire and fulfill my plan of having a permanent study comparable to the private spaces of great men, my collection will be well suited to line the walls.

Yesterday the first piece arrived. For personal symmetry, I chose to begin my collection with a biography of Napoleon written by Andrew Roberts. I plan on adding a lot more in the coming years while pruning out the old paperbacks and substandard story collections that I won’t read again. I’m keeping an eye of for a collection of Shakespeare that is aesthetically pleasing.