If I visit someone's home, I really feel more at home if the home-owner has lots of books, and doesn't mind me browsing some of them. If I recognize a few books, it establishes a sort of comeraderie for us, a telepathic connection. Books give a person intellectual grounding and fight-power. We don't let ourselves get smothered by public stupidity.

I take after my father in certain ways. My mother loved a party, but small-talk bored my dad. When Mother told us children that it was time to go home, she invariably asked us, "Where is your dad?" We didn't even need to answer. One of us would look for him in the home-owner's library. We had a sizable library in our home, growing up, and so I have loved libraries ever since.

My office bookcase

My living-room bookcase

Most people don't read a novel five or six times. Writers do. It's like re-reading a love letter. By the time a writer becomes famous, he already gone through three or four copies of his favorite novels, having worn them out through repeated, vigorous readings. He may cut up sheets of paper to use as bookmarks, so he can turn to a favorite passage in a hurry, and scribble personal comments on the pages.

Here are just a few of my favorites. Note the number of paired books by the same author, like lovers in a park. If you like one book by an author, chances are, you will like its partner.

Before Amazon, I had to take my chances with second-hand bookstores and get tattered, old copies where I could. No writer worth his salt will see himself as anything but an Amazon addict. We simply can't live without Amazon for any length of time—both from the buying and the selling standpoint. Nothing makes authors invest in new editions like Amazon.