Books and Whence They Come

I was thinking about books the other day because we had just come back from a trip to visit Jenn’s Grandpa McClung. Almost every trip we make, we end up with more books. This was once more the case. And I thought, “Where do books come from as they make their way into our apartment?”  (All books below are linked to LibraryThing if linked anywhere.)

Well, there are those that are simply given to us by generous people, this weekend, Grandpa’s wife gave me Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James, Die Heilige Schrift by God (trans. Martin Luther), and Biblia Sacra Latina also by God (trans. Jerome et al). In these terms, I believe that the Nimigans are the most abundant book bestowers. If you go to my Library Thing catalogue and check out the tag “From Nimigans,” you’ll find 33 titles; there is at least one more title, but I haven’t got around to adding it to the catalogue yet. The vast majority of these are Latin or Greek books, Caesar, Lucian, Terence, Virgil, with a sizable New Testament dictionary and accompanying grammar, Edith Hamilton’s The Echo of Greece, and Documents of the Christian Church by Bettenson in the mix.

Or there are those times when a kind person buys you a book in a bookshoppe. This past weekend it was Black Angels of Athos by M. Choukas. It’s about Greek monks on Mount Athos, the hub of Greek monasticism and spirituality. This is relatively rare, but I know I’ve managed to score some books via my father this way — although the last time I wanted to, I felt guilty, so he bought the book for himself (he was interested in it as well), but I got first reading.

The only other way I can think of that involves not buying the book oneself is a right and proper present. For example, at my birthday, I got the Everyman book Anglo-Saxon Poetry, Titus Groan by Mervin Peake, and A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin. And also a fun oddity, The Western Book of the Dead a little booklet put out by IVP in the 70’s.

These days, books also wend their way via the Internet. This is not strictly true, mind you. They come from warehouses and booksellers, but the purchasing occurs online. Most recently, I found a book at (of all places) that was $36 elsewhere but only $7 at Chapters. I immediately snatched up this pricing oddity until the drunk man at the head office who inputs the books into the computers found out. It was The Conferences of John Cassian, the translation with commentary and notes by Boniface Ramsey. It is an 886-page hardcover. (They haven’t figured it out yet, so if you’re interested in early monasticism/Christian spirituality and its roots, snatch them up!!)

And, of course, the traditional book store. I, myself, prefer to frequent used bookshoppes. Most recently, I grabbed Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey and How to Recognize Gothic Art.

The only problem with having so many books coming in is that we were at capacity a year ago. We need to ship some out, so we’re going through and eliminating ones we’ll never read again and reading some we figure will only be read just the once.


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