The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lost and Found Books

Continuing the book purge mentioned in my last post:

I am getting rid of books as if it were a matter of social justice: Get them to the people who will use them, I say! Book hoarding is just another form of book burning--yes, I'm talking to you, Jackie!

I was a teenager the last time I read a Jack Londen work, so why do I have the Complete Jack London? Or the Unabridged Shakespeare, for that matter? These books are so bulky that even if I were to read one of these works I'd probably get another edition. My two volume Complete Sherlock Holmes is a treasure, but if I need early 20th century British wit I always have Chesterton. I once had a penchant for books with the words "complete works" or "unabridged" in the title.

I found Girl with the Pearl Earling--wasn't I supposed to send this to someone? I also noticed part III of Dante's Divine Commedy. Didn't know I had it! I bet parts I & II are in there somewhere, too! I was embarassed to find Ray Brown's New Testament Essays--the same book I was gonna check out from the library the other day.

I would love to read all 1,259 pages of James Clavell's Shogun, but I don't see where I'm gonna find that much time for Japanese historical fiction. I would no doubt love to have read it--pay close attention to my verb tense there. However, I can't part with B-29: The Plane that Won the War, by--no joke--a man named Major Gurney. That book is as much history as what it describes. Maybe my copy of Go Ask Alice can save the life of another teenager as it may have saved mine--I always knew that hard drugs were to be avoided, and there were lines I knew never, ever to cross. I just assumed all kids knew that, but I have realized that that's not the case. I still haven't read the selections for my freshman college class on Science Fiction, so into the Goodwill box they--finally--go.

A Moral Issue

Should I be giving away the books I like or the books I don't like? One man's junk is another man's treasure, they say, but I feel like I need to justify keeping the best stuff behind. Am I gonna read it again? Refer to it in an upcoming paper? Or am I just putting a lid on the light of the world?

Or maybe I would accomplish more in life if every little decision I made wasn't laid out in terms of a moral and social justice dilemma. Sometimes a stack of books is just a stack of books.

Ancient History

Should I keep a Dictionary and Thesaurus around to show the next generation how it was back before the internets?

Do I really need the fourth edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers when I am currently using the sixth?

Misappropriated Books

The copy of Zwick's The Catholic Worker movement is not mine. Nor is The Long Lonliness, for that matter. Or Henri Nouwen's Can You Drink the Cup? If the owners are reading this (you know who you are) all I can say is: I didn't steal these on purpose! They just . . . sorta got absorbed into my overall stuff.


  1. NO!! You CANT throw out the unabridged works of Shakespeare!! That's sacrilege!! Is it the Riverside from Shakespeare class in college? If so, it can be used as a weapon if someone is trying to sneak into your apartment to steal your beloved books! ;) I keep my Riverside underneath my pillow to protect me from those serial killers I obsess about. ;)

    You're throwing out the books we read in Zabor's class? Shame on you. My heart is broken.

    Okay, you can throw out _A Canticle for Liebowitz_ cuz that book sucked.

  2. I never read those books. It's high time I came to terms with that. I'm not going to read them, and even if I do, it is fun to go on a quest to buy a book, borrow it from a friend or get it from the library than to grab something off the shelf.

    I don't have the Riverside--big regret in college was not taking Shakespeare (we did Shakespeare poetry in Tudor-Stuart but I never took a class of his plays). No I got some bargain bin lost classics big honkin book.

  3. You need to get on you seem to be the vast repository of unread books. I think you can give them to other people on there.

    Shakespeare was a great class. Cuz it was taught by Ellen Summers. What the Hiram English department does without here, I will never know. Whenever I read a particularly smarmy line from Shakespeare, I still hear her gleeful cackle...

  4. Whoah ~ nothing like being called out publicly for one of your (not so) secret habits!

    Actually, via, I have been doing some (slow but sure) purging. Of course, this purging is accompanied by the requisite mooching ...