This article examines Swedish chancellor Axel Oxenstierna as an owner and reader of books. The possession of a library, though it was unremarkable when compared to other contemporary European ministerial libraries, was a political asset in Sweden. His library reflected his emulation of continental examples as well as his interests and status as one of the premier Protestant statesmen of the seventeenth century. His library allowed the chancellor to act as a patron to scholars and others who needed access to books, and thus served a public function. Yet possession of books also allowed him to master the historical, juridical, and political background of politics, and to embody his ideal of the learned counselor. More importantly, books allowed him to overcome a moment of despondency and face his final political battles and his death, knowing his vocation had been godly.