October 28, 2020

Where the Blog Begins

I recently moved to a new house, and took the chance to rearrange my library, and buy some desperately-needed new shelves. Now that I've got everything assembled, I thought it was time for a look at the reference material that forms the basis of this blog, and maybe some discussion of the process that turns it into finished posts for you to enjoy.

My desk and immediate-use bookshelves. The pictures on the wall are both from Lord Nelson. She gave me the one on the left as an anniversary present, and drew the one on the right.

And the rest of my bookshelves, at least for the library in my office. There are more books elsewhere in the house.

I did my best to set it up in a reasonably logical order, while keeping the most frequently-used stuff close to me. So the books that I can reach most easily are the Friedman warship design series. There's also some room to expand, because this is definitely not the final form of my library. But I'll walk you through the shelves as they stand in late September.

Morison and WWII oversize, European Theater Naval, Pacific Theater Naval

Pacific Theater Naval (continued), Interwar and WWII General, Cold War

These are the American and British warship shelves respectively. The American shelf is room for expansion and big non-Friedman books, while the British shelves are small, D.K. Brown and big warship books.

Here we have the two Friedman series, small US books, medium UK books, and French Navy books.

Topics come from lots of places. Suggestions from readers. Things I've read for for fun. Tangents from stuff I'm reading for the blog. Ideas that have been on the list for ages. Often I'll buy books for specific posts, and then start writing after they get in. Sometimes a long time after they get in. I also have a bad habit of buying books after I finish writing on a subject. Sometimes, I use them to check specific facts, but a few also just end up on my shelves.

The top of this shelf is a display case, with my model of Arizona. The Rhyhorn (Pokemon) is a joke between me and Lord Nelson.

WWI books of various types

General naval history, naval practical manuals, and international/other nations warship design

Submarine warfare, naval aviation, and naval weapons

More naval weapons and two shelves of naval engineering

Conway's History of the Ship, miscellaneous naval technical books, Russian warships and German warships.

The office comes with an occasional research assistant, currently enjoying a nap.

As for the actual writing, that differs a lot between posts. Some times (and on some topics) I'll sit down on a Saturday morning and find myself with a completed post a couple hours later. Other times, it can take weeks or months to finish a post, depending on how my interests move. Sourcing also varies. If it's something straightforward, or if I only have one good source, I'll usually work from that single source, sometimes checking it against others. If it's something complicated or particularly if I'm having to break relatively new ground, then I start checking a lot more sources, and the piles of books on my desk can get quite large in short order. Illustration is almost always done after the post is written, and involves me checking whatever public-domain source I think is most likely to have what I need. Some posts are very easy to illustrate, others much less so.

My non-naval history shelf, with display case, post-Cold War and aerospace history books, and general military books, many of which date back to elementary school.

General and Cold War history, WWII non-naval history and textbooks.

Oversize books, spaceflight, misc. technical books and military aviation.

Civilian aviation, aviation overflow, and aerospace textbooks.

More misc. technical and naval oversize/miscellaneous, ship histories, naval periodicals.

Naval information, Warship Annual, Ships and Aircraft and International Naval Reference.

Sailing naval, early steam naval and two shelves of very misc.

And lastly, Haynes manuals of various kinds and nuclear-related references.

So that's all of it. I've probably made several people very jealous, and baffled a bunch of others with the sheer scale of this.


  1. October 28, 2020FXBDM said...

    Nice office!

  2. October 28, 2020Lord Nelson said...

    No mention of the Naval Supremacy soap that I so lovingly bought for you? I endured a lot of sneezing and watery eyes in the service of that joke.

    (For those curious, it's in one of the display cases. Sealed in a bag because it is pungent.)

  3. October 29, 2020Conrad said...

    Count me amongst one of the jealous. I would love to have a room like this. Alas three young kids and a small house mean this will be a decade or so away for me.

    I seldom comment but read your stuff regularly so thanks for all your hard work. I've learnt a lot.

  4. October 30, 2020hornet said...

    LOTTA good books there that I need to get my hands on.

  5. October 31, 2020incurian said...

    Fewer battleship models and pokemon plushies than I expected, tbh.

  6. October 31, 2020Blackshoe said...

    How often do you just go out and buy a new book? As an example, I am notorious for going on walks with the baby around my town, swinging by either the library or the thrift store, and ending up with a couple of new books in the stroller from the free bins (which is why I have around 360 books in my Unread shelves). Do you ever just go to a place and randomly pick up new books?

  7. October 31, 2020bean said...

    I don’t do that very often because those kind of places generally don’t have very much stuff I want. Also, they’re dangerous, and tend to sap the book budget that could otherwise be spent on stuff from Annapolis. But it does happen occasionally.


    The Pokemon plush have their own room now. As for battleship models, I generally prefer to write rather than building, and I haven't gotten a setup in the new house yet.

  8. February 07, 2022ike said...

    As your library grows, have you considered transitioning to wall-to-wall shelving?

    I am partial to this style:


    The square stock screws to the studs and you add your own 1"x8"s as shelves. I find them quite sturdy and efficient.

  9. February 08, 2022bean said...

    Thought about that when I was setting this up, but went with the IKEA stuff instead. As I have that, it's probably going to stay, although I do need another shelf or two soon, which I'll have to cram in somewhere.

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