Sunday, January 15, 2012

How to Share Previously-Loved Books?

There's more where these came from...
At one point I reflected upon the spiritual and environmental impacts of my comic book collection, a period of time during which I severely reduced the number of books I was collecting (it's tough to completely eliminate a hobby I've been involved in for nearly thirty years!). Recently as I was returning the holiday decorations to their assigned location in the back corner of our attic crawlspace, it occurred to me that the bookshelves which line the more finished portion of the attic are chock full of books.

This was not, of course, a completely new revelation, just one I had not given much thought to. While the purchase of books may be wasteful in and of itself, especially in the age of public libraries adequately stocked with mainstream fair, since my college days I have been something of a book buyer, rather than renter. An occasional renter, via any number of local (and not so local) branches of our excellent public library system, I still occassionally purchase a book or two, especially if the desired selection is not likely to be on the New York Times Best Seller list, and therefore, not as likely to be found on library shelves. (East Hill Farm by Gordon Ball being only the most recent example.)

Every year or two (and it must be that time of year again) I consider alleviating myself of the tomes I've collected over the past 20+ years. When this urge strikes me I'll bring a cardboard box into the attic and begin leafing through the books in an effort to identify those I am willing to part with. This is not an easy task. This book will bring back memories of walking the railroad track to the Liftbridge Book Store in Brockport, New York, and that slim volume will bring back memories of late night shift work at the now defunct Lawyer's Co-op factory. Memories are tough to part with, especially as they become more distant. But, truth is, I don't need many of these books anymore. They are now more representative of my greed and wastefulness than any intellectual development.

That doesn't mean I just want to throw them away either.

Being that many are older and paperback, they are really not wanted by many of the traditional avenues for donating such things. Even the Rochester Regional Library Council (RRLC), in their online info about book donations want only "book(s)... in reasonably good condition and have a retail value of $10.00 or more. No paperback books or Reader's Digest books please." (There bold, not mine.) While I recognize there are other donation avenues that are a little less selective, such as the Volunteers of America (I like to look through their stack to--it sure is interesting how many copies of Rush Limbaugh's books one sees there), I would rather have a sense that these books are loved, or at least appreciated as much as I have loved and appreciated them.

My wife has also suggested selling them on Ebay, a sensible idea, but I admit to lacking the motivation to get the learn how (though how difficult could it be?), to follow-through with that idea. Silly as it sounds, I guess I would prefer to give them away to someone who wants them and would choose to pass them on when they've finished with them.

Naturally, as a public school English teacher, I've also considered bringing them to my classroom or donating them to the school library, but this idea has potentials pitfalls, too. Not that some of the books are racy or profane, I would venture to guess that more than a few would be deemed "inappropriate" (who can forget the Chuck Palahniuk scandal a few years back). Which is not to say I haven't handed on books to young minds eager for reading entertainment in the past, especially when I taught in an urban middle school and my own children outgrew age-appropriate books such as Goosebumps. In some ways, donating to school may be potentially the most problematic solution, which is unfortunate. The same concern as the VOA option also exists: these books might likely will stay on the shelf unread for years until being thoughtlessly discarded any way.

Somehow (with VOA being the last resort), I want to find a meaningful way to divest mysefl of some of these books, and whiel I have one or two ideas still perculating, I'm open to anty suggestiosn you migth have!

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