It only took nine months since they were moved, but tonight I unboxed my office books. It was partly because I needed the space where the boxes sat, and partly because I had finally put up shelves to capture and organize the million little bits and pieces that otherwise end up on random flat surfaces.

There weren’t that many to unpack. Certainly no more than 200. When we moved last May I went through the thousands of books I had put into basement storage years back, and donated 95% of those to the local library. Then I went through my office bookshelves and culled more than half of those. I spared the living room shelves, which held (and currently hold) our farming and agrarian books. And I didn’t even think of touching the homeschool library upstairs. But of the books I deliberately weighed keeping, fewer than 200 made the cut.

I didn’t mention the culling at the time because the death-of-print fuss was at its height, and I didn’t want to irritate any friends who are devoted to their physical libraries. I think that has died down now, enough for me to reveal that I have no attachment at all to books as physical objects, and am happy to obtain my reading as I need it—and grateful it’s so easy to do that these days, using my Kindle or the Frankfort library or paying $4 for some abebooks.com bookseller to mail it to me.

It was interesting to be reminded of what made the 200-book cut:

  • Most of my books on writing
  • Books on folk and country music: history, biography
  • Books on the music business
  • A stack of books on simple living, research for a book I may still write
  • All 34 of my Jacques Ellul books
  • All 5 of my Dietrich Bonhoeffer books
  • 4 of my Christopher Lasch books (I hope the others are around somewhere)
  • A few computer books, mostly for nostalgia
  • A small selection of books that I think are profound

To these I added the ten or so books I’ve bought since we moved. I will still sometimes buy a physical book (used) if I can’t find a cheap/free ebook version or a copy at the library. But most of my reading these days is done on the Kindle.


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