Andy Ray at 25

Andy Ray at 25

How long have you been a book collector?

Since 1952 when, at nine years old, I put together a library from my adult friends who gave me books such as Zane Grey's original Grossett and Dunlop volumes, Edgar Rice Burroughs, same. I became a "serious" collector in 1968 at 23.

What sorts of books do you collect?

Anything older than 1860, but mainly 1st editions of literary works and mostly second state copies as theyíre cheaper.

How many books do you currently have in your collection?

In my library I have about 2,000, but I've only catalogued 205 to date.

Where do you find most of your books?

I find my books at estate auctions, thrift stores, and though various internet sites including AbeBooks.

What was your most recent acquisition?

A paperback with slipcover of Joyce's poems extracted from Ulysses, Milano, 1949. #776 of 2000 printed.

Any Eureka moments on AbeBooks?

Not on that site because I already know what I'm after when I search. As far as having it, yes. It warms the cockles of my heart to see, often, not just one copy, but numerous copies for sale. I think AbeBooks is the best site for booklovers around the world.

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

Most prized book in your collection?

It surely isn't the most rare, nor most expensive. It is a coffee table-sized Pilgrimís Progress with illustrations by Andrew Dore, published in 1898. It might fetch $150, so itís not the most valuable, but I love the typeface, pictures, and spacing of the prose. It was put together with love.

What do you think of LibraryThing as a collector's resource?

It could be, yes. A good one. But that depends on how collector's use it. Right now LibraryThing is basically a reader's heaven with most groups centered around an author's works or a particular place or library or thing. Of the more than one thousand groups, I doubt there are more than a handful currently geared towards collecting, per se. I belong to a book repair and maintenance group, but I went through the whole group list and do not remember any such group as antiquarians, classical connections, or Eureka! The second largest contingent of members are reader-writers, with the third largest librarians (who are growing in numbers and may soon surpass the reader-writers). But you must remember: LibraryThing is young, barely a child yet. Its potential world-wide membership is in the millions, and I think collectors, per se, will come together there to become a real presence in the next few years.

What are you currently Reading?

Right now Iím reading The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub.

Do you have a favourite author?

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Now this is a hard question. You will have to permit me the chance to give two authors, one male and one female, I just canít narrow it down. My male has stayed a steady course since I first read Up in Michigan. Ernest Miller Hemingway. I love his simple prose style and wonder at how he can pack so much description and power in such few words. My female is often not considered a novelist, but a poet, and that's Sylvia Plath, who stuck her head in the oven in mid-twenties. She lived in darkness from her early days through to death and she told us quite succinctly in The Bell Jar what her mind was like. It was just a matter of time, but I want to have tea with her and just listen to the mind that created "Daddy" and "Balloons" and "Cut." There is a type of darkness one can bathe in and remain unharmed spiritually, and she encompassed it on paper, possibly the only writer to do it so personally!

Andy Ray is also a published author with four novels and a number of years writing for various newspapers and magazines including Daytona Beach News-Journal, The Orlando Sentinel, and The Adirondack Journal.

In 1990 he published his first book Candle in the Rain followed by Another World, Another Time Ė a memoirs book about growing up in the Adirondacks in the mid-20th century, In the Rooms - pairs two men's lives from birth to death. It was written to show non-alcoholics or enablers with alcoholics the nature of the disease, and Zephyrs - a collection of 13 stories written over a period of 40 years.