Finished reading THE HOUSE OF TWENTY THOUSAND BOOKS by Sasha Abramsky. Published in 2014 this is a grandson's memoir, a labour of love, about his bibliophile grandfather Chimen Abramsky (1916-2010).
Born in Tsarist Russia, son of a renowned Rabbi, Chimen migrated to Britain, schooled himself in languages and history, and became Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of London. He was a voracious reader with photographic memory, and also a bookseller and collector.
Chimen Abramsky's London house contained one of England's most important private libraries. For a few decades it was one of leftwing London's great salons. Up to 1958 Chimen was a member of the British Communist Party. His extraordinary collection totalled about 20,000 volumes including rare books hundreds of years old.
Excluding kitchen and bathroom, every room was crammed with books from floor to ceiling. Books on tabletops too, and in closets, cupboards and wardrobes. It was a working library that Abramsky accessed for essays, articles and books that he wrote.