Unsurprisingly for a house shared by a writer and a teacher, this place is packed full of books and I just added another big pile of them. As work on my new office and garage continues, I recently cleared out my old office and ended up bringing several boxes of books and magazines home. I now have to figure out what to sell and what to keep.
I started buying my own books using book tokens and pocket money before I was ten, but eventually became a huge fan of car magazines, as my favourite motoring writers appeared in print every month: I didn’t have to wait years for their next piece of work. Joining their ranks became my primary ambition.
When I left Ireland and moved to London in the late 1980s, I brought only a handful of books with me, but it didn’t take long for the weekly book buying to start again in the UK, topped up by numerous monthly car magazine subscriptions. Living in a camper van for a couple of years meant getting rid of several hundred magazines and I’ve probably recycled thousands of magazines over the years, but some have survived every clear out and remain in my current collection – I’ll share some of these at some stage.
The Internet has calmed my library size down, as I now tend to buy the stuff I want to read secondhand and then either pass it on to someone else via Facebook or put it back on eBay and see what else is about. Behind the in-and-out regular reads lies a decent sized reference library, all centred on Porsche.
The collection began when I started writing for Porsche magazines alongside writing for Autocar and realised that some of my favourite journalists had written their own Porsche books several years previously. David Vivian and Mike McCarthy’s 911 books were the first ones I read, but Chris Harvey’s excellent book “Porsche 911 in all its forms” – the 1988 edition – remains perhaps my favourite of the journo creations and can often be found for less than a quid on eBay.
As Ferry Porsche was the root of my Porsche fascination, I bought everything Ferry ever had a hand in, so all of his various auto/biographies and some of the books he wrote forewords for, including another of Harvey’s Porsche books. Ferry’s own Cars are my Life is a great read and under a fiver inc delivery from the Air Ambulance shop on Amazon.
I’ve never really been into the brand trophy books, as some of the titles marketed as ultimate reference works are out of date almost as soon as they are published, and the world these cars exist in is always changing. Not to mention that errors are soon found by the forum experts. I prefer the collections of road tests like the Brooklands compendiums, that give real insight and period reaction, as well as comparing the cars to their contemporaries and of course these are much cheaper to buy.
That said, every Porsche library needs one or two trophy books on the shelf. Dieter Landenberger’s advertising collection – Porsche – Die Marke. Die Werbung: Geschichte einer Leidenschaft – is a lovely piece of work, even for someone who doesn’t speak German. Jürgen Lewandowski’s book on Porsche Racing Posters, Porsche – die Rennplakate, is another nice one.
Rainer Schlegelmilch’s compilation of his photos of sports car racing from 1962-1973 is still just £30 to buy at this time and offers a great insight into racing of the period: so different to the re-run events like Le Mans Classic and Mille Miglia Historic which often seem to be aimed mainly at marketing departments “and the one percent”, as my friend John Gray would say.
I’m quite picky in what I keep and many of these office refugees will be off to eBay soon, but I have seen some mega Porsche libraries over the years and know some of you have excellent collections of your own. So my question to answer in the comments is: which ONE Porsche book would you keep if forced to get rid of them all?