Skip to comments.Weekend Vanity: A Few Books I'm Hanging Onto
Posted on 03/02/2013 1:18:46 PM PST by dagogo redux
Ive been an avid reader since childhood, and probably several thousand books have come and gone from my shelves over the decades. As with many other accumulated belongings, Im getting to the age where the end is in sight, even if these perilous times pass, and society does get back on track.
And so, last weekend I loaded many boxes of books into my pickup, and took them to sell for in-house credit at a local used book store. The money/credit was not that important to me - I mostly wanted to circulate the books back to people who might get something from them. The store owner called me that evening after going through it all for many hours. He was rather amazed at the widely eclectic nature of the books, some of which he said hed been looking for for years, so I quipped, You ought to see the ones Im keeping!
This got me to thinking that it might be of interest to some of you if I spark a discussion by listing the few Im keeping that might be of general interest to Freepers. Since almost no one here would care or understand, I will not list the core Buddhist and Hindu scriptures and texts Im hanging onto, nor my professional medical or psychiatric library, nor books on bonsai, chess, writing, nor quirky little odds and ends of various types that are probably of special interest to me alone. I think Ill leave the SHTF books and manuals off the list for now, too - perhaps some other time.
A. Classical and Philosophical [Because the translation and editing make such a huge difference in these works, Ive gone against tradition and placed that info before the actual author and work]
1. Robert Fagles translations of Homers Iliad and Odyssey, Sophocles Three Theban Plays, and Aeschylus Oresteia.
2. The Hackett edition: Plato: Complete Works.
3. The Modern Library edition: The Basic Works of Aristotle.
4. Dumb Ox Books edition: St. Thomas Aquinas Commentary on Aristotles Metaphysics.
5. Oxford Worlds Classics edition: Aristotles The Nicomachean Ethics.
6. Classic Club edition: T. W. Higginsons translation: Epictetus Discourses and Enchiridion.
7. Modern Library edition: Gregory Hays translation: Marcus Aurelius Meditations.
8. Oxford Worlds Classics edition: P. G. Walshs translation: Ciceros On Obligations (De Officiis).
9. Loeb Classic Library edition [In original Latin, and English translation by J. E. King]: Cirecos Tusculan Disputations.
10. Modern Library two volume edition: Plutarchs Lives.
B. Our American Heritage
1. George Washington: Writings. The Library of America.
2. The Adams-Jefferson Letters. University of North Carolina Press.
3. Notes of the Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison. Ohio University Press.
4. The Business of May Next: James Madison and the Founding. William Lee Miller, University Press of Virginia.
5. Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution. Richard Beeman. Random House.
6. The Heritage Guide to the Constitution. Edwin Meese III, Matthew Spalding, David Forte. Regnery Publishing and the Heritage Foundation.
7. How to Read the Federalist Papers. Anthony Peacock. The Heritage Foundation; First Principles Series.
8. The 5000 Year Leap: The 28 Great Ideas That Changed the World. W. Cleon Skousen. National Center for Constitutional Studies.
9. A Patriots History of the United States. Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. Sentinel/ Penguin Group.
C. Nostalgia and Pure Pleasure
1. Boy Scout Handbook: A Handbook of Training for Citizenship Through Scouting. Sixth Edition, Second Printing, 1960. Boy Scouts of America. [Complete with ads at the back for - among other manly interests - Marlin, Winchester, Savage/Stevens, Remington, and Mossberg rifles, as well as Daisy BB rifles.]
2. The Family of Man. Created by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art. 1955.
3. Siddhartha. Herman Hesse. Tr. by Hilda Rosner. New Directions Paperback. Printed 1957.
4. The Poetry of Robert Frost. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1969.
5. Howl and Other Poems. Allen Ginsberg. City Lights Books, 1956 & 1959.
6. The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play. Wallace Stevens. Vintage Books Edition. 1972.
7. A Natural History of Western Trees. Donald Culross Peattie. Bonanza Books. 1953.
8. On the Loose. Jerry & Renny Russell. Sierra Club-Ballantine Books. 1967.
9. Tao Te Ching. Lao Tsu. Tr. by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English. Vintage Books. 1972.
10. Four Quartets. T.S. Eliot. Harcourt, Inc. 1943.
11. The Tokyo-Montana Express. Richard Brautigan. Dell. 1980.
12. The Hand of God: Thoughts and Images Reflecting the Spirit of The Universe. Edited by Michael Reagan. Templeton Foundation Press. 1999.
I too once had a ginormous library. But I realized that I would never read about 90% of my novels and other books again.
So I got rid of them. Kept the ones that I do look at again.
But I got rid of encyclopedias and dictionaries. They took up way too much space, and with the internet, I can get the freshest information on any subject they might cover.
I’m keeping all my Greek and Roman stuff, classic pulp paperbacks, illustrated first edition children’s books, and so on.
I always wanted an Encyclopedia Britannica but they were always just too expensive. In the last 20 years I have acquired several complete sets which were either dirt cheap or given away.
They are just stacked up in a storage room but I am glad I have them anyway. Every now and then I will go to the real effort to find something in one of them.
You are correct of course. With the internet you can research about anything mostly for free.
With failing vision, I parted with 99% of my books and am relying on Nook That way I can enlarge the font and manage to read for enjoyment again. Since I am downsizing now that would have had to happen anyway.
Perhaps, if I live too much longer, I will have to switch to an audio book service.
I hope you have a Bible, and read it. In the end it will be the only book that matters.
I’ve over 15,000 volumes of which at least 1/2 are reference, textbooks, or history. I may some day be able to part with some of those that are fiction, but there will always be volumes that have more meaning than just their words due to their ties to a part of my past.
Books are my guilty pleasure if I start to part with them it will either be out of my control or because I know my time is at an end.
But my 20K comics that’s another matter all together :)
Isn’t it funny how we think of our books when we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel? I’m mulling over the same chore. So many books, so little time. I have, over time, given away a ton of books and still can’t find room for the ones I “can’t bear to part with.” I have kept my books on Theology from seminary. I still have the full Kittle set on the Greek, and all the reference books on Hebrew. I have practically no fiction books. I covet your number 4 & 9 & 12. I would also love to have the ones on Plato and Aristotle. Reading is life to me. If I ever lose the ability to read just bury me.
Beat me by thaaaat much. I would also add at least one research Bible and a daily devotional such as “My Utmost for His Highest”. Other good reference books can even be found in thrift stores. They’re mine, too.
Also love native American research, 19th century history and, of course, westerns and western explorer novels.
Guess I’m just too stupid and dull for some of those “works” noted.
A couple years ago, I picked up a 52 volume set of Great Books of the Western World, copyright 1952, from a garage sale for $20! I don’t think they had ever even been OPENED, much less read. Don’t know if I’ll ever read them, but I want to. If I spent as much time reading them, as I do on Free Republic, I could probably be 1/3 of the way through.
The set includes authors from Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Aquinas, Shakespeare, Milton, ADAM SMITH (YEAH), and even Marx and Engels. The one that I wish it had also is The Road to Serfdom, but I’m keeping my eye out! I find it difficult to get rid of books....
Smoke from a Thousand Campfires, by Paul Dougherty
Up Front, Bill Mauldin
Back Home, Bill Mauldin
The Brass Ring, Bill Mauldin
Many Uncle Wiggly books, Howard Garis
Spiked Boots, Robert E. Pike
There are a LOT more, but those are the first to come to mind.
Thanks for your answers.
Sounds like many have faced the same task.
One of my earliest memories was my mother taking me for the first time to the local library. What a seed she planted!
I suppose enlargeable e-books and audiobooks and such might suffice when I can no longer manage the real thing, but books almost take on the aspect of old friends for me, or a new one I’m anxious to meet. The weight and physical substance of a tangible book, its palpable textures, it’s dry, serene odors, the refined look of the paper and the print and the page layout, the auditory treat of an opening binding or the rustling of a turned page or the unique thump of it closing - these things, far beyond the words themselves, give a book a life all its own. I think the lure of those pleasures - as much as the writings themselves - is one reason we hang on to so many books we’ll never read or never read again.
Young people have often missed this subtle joy in their fascination with flashier stimulation, but I don’t envy them at all. I also think they sadly miss the indefinable something about a book that helps transform mere information to knowledge, and knowledge to wisdom.
“avid reader since childhood”: one of the top 4 or 5 blessings a person can have!
‘4. The Business of May Next’ most helpful book on the Founding IMO. Can’t recommend it enough. Still haven’t read ‘A Patriots History of the United States’ though, of course, I know the author to be worthy.
Marcus Aurelius Meditations, another good choice.
Surprised not to see Herodotus’ Histories on there. Fascinating that Man has changed none- zero, zilch- since his time!
I agree with you nan.
Reading has been my passion and comfort. My books were weeded recently and my beloved “daughter of the heart” an equally passionate reader gets whatever she wants.
None of my children love to read anymore.
It was someone here, in fact - maybe you? - who recommended The Business of May Next to me. Madison’s “Notes” is more like the original scripture to me, almost sacred, but May Next is the key that unlocks the whole process.
I never enjoyed Herodotus as much as I felt I ought to, but I may simply have had a bad translation - I think getting a really good translation is key to the old classics unless one is truly conversant in the Greek or Latin oneself. This is one of my complaints about the Great Books collection that someone mentioned here: yes, those ARE the great books, but the translations and the horrible, horrible publishing - typesetting/font, page layout, paper, etc - made them into a chore to slog through.
I have a quote about the Meditations that I’ve always liked - I think comes from Clifton Fadiman in his “Lifetime Reading Plan”:
“Through the years the Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius, as it has been called, has been read by vast numbers of ordinary men and women. They have thought of it not as a classic but as a wellspring of consolation and inspiration. It is one of the few books that seem to have helped men directly and immediately to live better, to bear with greater dignity and fortitude the burden of being merely human. Aristotle one studies. Marcus Aurelius men take to their hearts.”
Ye Olde Book Club Ping
Ye Olde Book Club Ping
Picked up a couple of detective novels at the same time.
I have a Kindle which is handy at times but we have an excellent, excellent used book store which I will never tire of and the number of books on my personal library shelf continues to expand despite the e-book revolution.
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