When I think about my Dream House, it’s not a big glistening kitchen, high-tech family room or backyard swimming pool that catches my fancy. 

No, my perfect home has a library, a real library, with  floor-to-ceiling books, and aladder on wheels for exploring the top shelves. There’s a fireplace with a cozy reading chair and a good light.

I’m am not alone in thinking that would be exquisite. “When I have a house of my own,” said a character in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “I shall be quite miserable if I have not an excellent library.”

Eda LaShan once said that middle age begins when you realize you won’t live long enough to read all the books you want to explore. According to that definition, I was born middle-aged.

Fortunately, I landed in a family that assumed reading was an important part of a well-lived life and we were always surrounded by books. As much as I love the library, I can’t imagine living without books of my own at my fingertips.

Libraries are as unique as the people who assemble them, of course. When I scan my own shelves, I see a record of my life as telling as a photo album. 

Creating a wonderful personal collection can be both haphazard and intentional. If you are serious about success, your library will reflect this. 

What kinds of books show up in libraries of the Joyfully Jobless?

Inspirational. We quickly learn the truth of the adage that you can’t outperform your own self-image. 

While we all have our own favorites, I know that on the days I feel stuck or frustrated or conflicted, I can get back on track more quickly if I spend time with an old friend like The War of Art. 

The books that inspire us the most are often those that stand up to repeated visits. They help us reconnect with our own best selves and nudge us to move past pettiness. 

Informational. Of course, we require different kinds of information all along the way as we build and grow. How-to books are hugely popular, although not everyone is keen about putting what they’ve read into action.

With the avalanche of  information which abounds today, there’s really no excuse for saying, “I don’t know how.”  You can fill in the gaps easily.

 Whether you need help with marketing or how to start a profitable petsitting business or how to write a killer book proposal, a book written by a reliable source can get you pointed in the right direction.

Heroes and heroines. A well-rounded library for an entrepreneur would also include some great biographies and autobiographies from successful self-bossers. 

I’ve just finished reading an advance copy of Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness, the upcoming story of the entrepreneurial evolution of Zappos founder. It will be taking its place alongside numerous stories of inspiring entrepreneurs in my library. 

If you’d like to see some other biographies that I’ve loved, check out my list, First the Business, Then the Book over at Flashlight Worthy Books.

And speaking of Flashlight Worthy, pay them a visit for hundreds of great book recommendations compiled by all sorts of experts and aficionados

“We are all pilgrims on the same journey,” said Nelson DeMille, “but some pilgrims have better road maps.” 

Fill your library with the best maps you can find and consult them regularly. Going places may just start in the quietest room of the house.


Did you know that May is Get Caught Reading Month? Participate.





7 Responses to “A Library of Your Own”

  1. Traci

    “The books that inspire us the most are often those that stand up to repeated visits.”

    I guess that’s why my copy of Making a Living Without a Job is so worn and well-read with many hi-lighted pages and a torn front cover. That’s when I know a book is REALLY good.

  2. Ann GH

    Can’t live without books (although I’m currently feeling overrun with them. We either need more bookshelves or fewer books). It was great seeing you mentioned on the front page (book list) of the Jobs section of the Washington Post on Sunday!

  3. Barbara Winter

    Peter Walsh says you can’t have more books than you have bookshelves. I agree with him–in theory. Have not managed to put it into practice, although I am getting better at pruning my collection.

  4. Sandy Dempsey

    My dream is to one day have a real library in my home where I can see and access books, all day, every day. I’ve know exactly what it looks like and believe one day it will come true. In the meantime, we have books and bookcases throughout the house – with lots of piles, too. I can’t imagine a home without books; can’t imagine it would be a home without books. Great post!

  5. Tracy Hodge

    I too dream of a library with a fireplace and bookshelves so tall that I need to have a rolling ladder that slides horizontally to be able to reach them all.

    Thank you for “Making a Living Without a Job” and for your other suggestions of inspirational reading. Books have always been a constant in my life and despite the popularity of digital books, there is nothing like the feel of holding a book in your hands.

  6. Barbara Winter

    Tracy, I apologize for misspelling your name! I was in such a hurry to share the blog link with you that I failed to double check spelling.

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