And, for me, keeping books around that I've already read isn't just hording. As a writer, I frequently need to reference some idea from a book I read long ago, so keeping them handy is something of a necessity.
For example, just a couple of months ago, I was reading something which referenced an idea from Plato's Phaedo. Wanting to learn more, I went down into the basement and dug out my copy of Phaedo, which I haven't read since I was taking a classical philosophy course in college over a dozen years ago. I was quickly able to find Phaedo and get the information I needed, since I rarely get rid of books.
(My books are organized thematically and by subject, so I could easily find the classical greek philosophy, a kind of informal version of the Dewey decimal system. This method drives my wife nuts, especially in our DVDs, since she has to figure out if I consider Keeping the Faith to be a religious film, placing it near The Last Temptation of Christ, or a romantic comedy, placing it near Sweet Home Alabama. Such are the trials she must persevere to love a man like me. These days, we watch non-kid films so rarely that I've really given up on organizing the DVD cabinet anyway, as every other trip into it is with the express goal of getting Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins. But I digress.)
In fact, the whole book String Theory for Dummies would have been much more difficult to write if I weren't such a pack rat, because there were books on the subject that I'd read over a decade earlier, which I had to go back through for research. In addition, years worth of science magazines piled around my basement were also scoured for resources. So these things do occasionally prove useful.
Despite this, there are a lot of these books which, while perfectly fine books, I just know I won't need. And what's odd is that, despite my near-certain knowledge that I won't need to ever look in them again, and that even if I had free time I wouldn't ever get back to them, it's actually hard for me to give some away. I think, "No, I can't give away my The Elements of Fiction Writing series," even though I long ago internalized (though have not yet mastered) the key elements of these introductory writing books - which, incidentally, I bought in high school! The only way to get better at them is to write more, not to have books sitting on a shelf which I have not and will never reference after reading them the first time.
So, the question then becomes how best to give the books away. My original thinking was that I'd just load them up in a box to Goodwill, but then I decided that it would make more sense to offer them to the people actually going to the trouble to read the blog. So here is a list of the books I am giving away. If you would like them, then e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or message me in Facebook with your street address, and I'll send them to you next Friday (when my "giving" fund has money in it). I've broken the book down by category for easy review:
- Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham
- Beginnings, Middles, and Ends by Nancy Kress
- Characters and Viewpoints by Orson Scott Card
- Plot by Ansen Dibell
- Conflict, Action, and Suspense by William Noble
- Setting by Jack M. Bickham
- Fantastic Voyage by Isaac Asimov
- Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain by Isaac Asimov
- The Ugly Little Boy by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
- Nemesis by Isaac Asimov
- Nightfall by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
- Isaac Asimov's Robots in Time: Marauder by William F. Wu
- Isaac Asimov's Robots in Time: Predator by William F. Wu
- Gamer Fantastic edited by Kerrie Hughes (collection of short stories about gaming)
- Intelligent Design edited by Denise Little (collection of stories on evolution versus creationism)
- Cold at Heart by Brian A. Hopkins
- Deadfellas by David Whitman
- The Scar by China Mieville
- The Lady of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
- The Forest House by Marion Zimmer Bradley
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
- Sailing to Sarantium (Sarantine Mosaic Book 1) by Guy Gavriel Kay (hardcover, first U.S. edition, autographed)
- Lord of Emperors (Sarantine Mosaic Book 2) by Guy Gavriel Kay (hardcover, first U.S. edition, autographed)
- Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey (hardcover, first edition, autographed)
- The Void by Frank Close
- 13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks
- John Adams by David McCullough
- The Darwin Awards: Next Evolution: Chlorinating the Gene Pool edited by Wendy Northcutt
- The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
- The 5 Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me About Life and Wealth by Richard Paul Evans
Since I will have to ship these books, please don't get carried away. Only request the books if you really have a desire to read them, or to pass them on to someone else (as gifts - no reselling!) who would enjoy them. Any unclaimed books will be given to either Goodwill, the local library, or possibly our local prison, depending on which one seems to have the greatest need.