At the end of my 3rd grade year, I decided it would be fun to be 4th grade class president (my elementary school was an odd one) the following school year. I felt like I knew most of the kids in my grade and had a decent shot of winning. To promote my candidacy, my mother helped me make posters to hang in the hallway at school. I decided to borrow a phrase from Sesame Street as my campaign slogan.

C is for Carty. That’s good enough for me.

Cookie Monster didn’t help my cause in the end. I failed to make it through the primary election.

But enough about my brief political career-


Music and books have been a huge part of my life since I was a small boy. Because of the influence of my parents, who had what seemed like massive amounts of books and records, when I was old enough (sometime around the age of 7) I wanted my own collections. They started out small and silly- a copy of Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go: A 7 inch copy of Cold as Ice by Foreigner- but those small beginnings (my B word again) connected me to words and music in ways that changed my life forever.

I can’t imagine my house without the presence of books. I love the smell of book paper, old or new. There is very little as wonderful for me as walking into a book store and having that smell overtake me. When I was getting paid to be a Librarian, I was surrounded by that scent every day (and some others we won’t discuss).

I love fiction. Made up stories often feel more honest to me than non-fiction. Reading fiction also taught me better ways to write it. I find writing and reading to be intimately connected.


Music is rarely background noise for me. It is almost always front and center. I pay attention to it. I am aware of it. I listen when I write, when I drive, when I settle in for the evening.

Vinyl was always my first love- the feel of the wax as I remove it from the cover, that slight hiss and pop when the needle hits the record: Huge cover art to gaze at while the music fills the room. That first love was left behind for a while when compact discs became popular. I admit, I abandoned my first love for a shiny new one, but she has been good to me as well, letting me hang on to the one thing that matters most to me when it comes to music, something tangible. It is why I refuse to abandon the physical and buy digital music. Lucky for me, vinyl has made a comeback, and while it is more expensive now than ever before, I have reconnected with that first love and found her as wonderful as I remember. record

I’ve decided that I can live without almost all of my possessions. They are after all in the end, just things. But I would feel lost and alone without my collections of music and books.


They say more about me than the clothes I wear, the car I drive or where I live. They are my history and my memory. They are tangible evidence of my passion, and I am alright with that.

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About Ryan Carty

There are some who call me, Tim?

16 responses to “Collections”

  1. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor says :

    I love seeing your collection of books. When I downsized and moved onto a boat, I had to give up most of my books. It was a very sad, necessary, but sad.

    Cheers – Ellen |

    • fenster says :

      Over the last five years, my wife and I have also downsized our book collection. 1500 cd’s take up less space than one might expect, and albums, while bigger, are thin enough. When the books needed yet another shelf, we made the hard choice…I gave hundreds away to friends and family, and that made it at least bearable. Very sad indeed.

  2. jmh says :

    Wow, those are impressive collections, Ryan. I too love books and CDs but have to downsize in order to move to an island.

    The idea of e-books makes me shudder, but it’s a convenient way to transport thousands of books to Thailand. I will be keeping my collection of Timelife Mysteries, though. 🙂

    • fenster says :

      Thank you. I might be able to downsize at the thought of living on an island! Or maybe, these collections would be the only thing I’d keep of what I currently own. Who needs clothes or furniture, right?

      I also shudder at ebooks, though I have been able to read a few that way. I miss the feel of the paper under my fingers and the ability to easily flip back a few pages when I forget, or recall something. It isn’t the same with the e-reader.

  3. amymorrisjones says :

    That last paragraph of your post is beautiful–and something I can entirely relate to. I don’t have the music passion you have, but books line MANY walls in my house. My family moved a couple of years ago, and we decided it was time to purge a lot of books. It was like giving up old friends. We weren’t very successful letting them go–and have been replenishing the collection now that we’re in our “forever” home. Great post!

    • fenster says :

      I totally understand. I won’t tell how much of my old vinyl I double up on compact disc or how many CD’s I have now doubled up on vinyl. Also, whenever I go to a used book store, or see something I own on sale for cheap prices, I tend to buy them and give them away. It’s a sickness, I tell you! 😉

  4. DonnaMcDine says :

    Wow, fantastic collections. I too love the smell of books and holding them in my hands. e-readers don’t do it for me at all! Continued best wishes for a successful challenge!

  5. ahtdoucette says :

    I definitely agree about books and music. Most of my books and music are online now and one of the first things I do when I get a new device is load all that stuff up – so I have it. Being digital makes hoarding so much easier. 🙂 But I love the look of your collection and sometimes I miss books and vinyl too. There’s something about the old ways that will never lose its value.
    I agree that reading and writing are very much connected too.

  6. Michelle Wallace says :

    I love your book collection! Impressive!
    I love paperbacks…the smell and feel of it…the fact that you can hug a really good book to your chest in appreciation…

    Ah, vinyl…what memories… 🙂
    Writer In Transit

  7. Liesbet says :

    Can you elaborate on digitizing all your music and books, or am I pulling on sensitive strings here? Just teasing you, of course. What an impressive collection. I would have a hard time to downsize, unless it is for a really good reason! 🙂

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

    • fenster says :

      I have to admit, I did digitize my music collection (the CD’s at least). It took longer than I’ll ever admit. But unlike some, I kept the source material (that’s the librarian in me coming out).

  8. rolandclarke says :

    I love the feel of books and used to have an extensive collection, plus loads of vinyl. Nut moving house can be a problem… when illness strikes. When I was diagnosed with MS, I moved into my mother’s house with what I could. But then when she died in 2013, circumstances conspired to ensure much of my past was lost…including all my albums and some treasured books. Fortunately I have a few of those books left as I prepare to move again.

    • fenster says :

      I feel very fortunate to have space and health to maintain the collections. I’m not sure how I could part with some of the items, which may be a silly thing when all Is said and done. It saddens me to read about your lost past. I know they are just things, but things can matter.

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