Our lovely friend Steve came over for dinner last night. I utterly, utterly adore this man. He used to work at a used bookstore and always set aside things he thought his friends would like. He’s that kind of guy.

A while ago now, his wife, who has a soul as small and shriveled as a raisin, but less tasty, more like one of those fabled dead flies that, apparently, get mixed in with the raisins, left him. Steve’s in a crazy frame of mind these days. He’s also getting his shit organized because he’s going traveling again. We were talking about the prep for that and it came out that he has whittled his book collection down to thirty books! I believed he was actually a supernatural entity for doing this.

This got me thinking. If I had to get rid of almost all my books, what would I keep? I looked around.

The answer: Fewer than I thought. Most of my books are handy for my own brand of traditional medicine, Read Something To Make You Feel Better. Overwhelmed? Read L.M. Montgomery. Need some wit? Head for Wodehouse. Uninspired by life? Twisted Tales from Shakespeare. Escapism? Several romance authors can help me out there.

But what could I really, really not live without owning? Inscribed books from friends and relatives aside, I could do without pretty much all of them.

What books couldn’t you live without?

2 Comments to “Books.”

  1. By Zen, January 31, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (even though I got stuck trying to get into his historical trilogy, Neal is an amazing writer, and Crypto is one of my pet thrills in life).

    LOTR, of course.

    Green Futures of Tycho (a great children’s book dealing with time travel and paradoxes, this book blew my mind when I read it at the age of 9, I think).

    Straight Out of Bristol (the history of Trip-Hop, from Nena Cherry to Portishead and beyond) – who knew all those bands (Massive Attack/Tricky, Soul II Soul, Nena Cherry, Portishead) came from the same six-block area.

    William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition (not one of his usual “ooh, look at the shiny technology” books). This one’s got a story, and a mystery, and beauty and the whole shebang.

    Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson (the idea of a “Primer” book/computer that teaches a homeless girl to become a leader of a revolution is just too good to pass up)


    There’s more, but they’re all in the living room (and I’m not, for a change).

  2. By Arwen, January 31, 2006 @ 10:05 pm

    LoTR. Naturellement.
    I have several utterly practical books, as well, which I wouldn’t ditch because they’re “good for business” – programming manuals, Strunk & White, my physics textbook (which comes in handy for progamming), etc. They’re handier than internet searches, ‘cuz I know where everything is.

    Other than that, it’s all or nothing, I’m afraid. I think my books serve several purposes, the biggest being that my kids have craploads of stuff to read which transmit, on some level, who their dad and I are.

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