Lamentations of a Bookworm

books 8

Eccle. 12:12 Of [reading] many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. I must be one of the most foolish people I know. I have few hobbies. Many people enjoy sports, some like photography or hi-tech gadgets, others love gardening, or eating, but I’m none of the above, except reading. And I’m giving my away prized collection of books, something people normally don’t do unless they know their time is limited.

Over the years I’ve acquired thousands of books, mostly Christian, with some business when I was in secular employment. The latter I donated to the public library when I began full-time ministry as my second career, but the former kept piling up because of ministry! That wasn’t a problem until our house needed repairs and renovation. Just putting on a fresh coat of paint and changing the soiled carpet to hardwood floor meant every bookshelf had to be moved as each room was being made-over. For thousands of books stored in 6 different rooms that meant a huge headache, a logistics nightmare.

When I was a consultant I told my clients to always look at the downside risks, how to unwind a contract, if necessary, with minimal damage. In my enthusiasm in pursuit of knowledge, I forgot my own rule when buying books – what to do when I have to downsize! I am the only avid reader in our family, so none of the family members wanted my library. I could sell the books in a garage sale, on eBay or Kijiji, at a few cents a pound, but that would be a terrible waste. Besides I don’t have the time to run a second-hand book business on the side.

I offered to donate my holdings to my church when I left, but they did not have the space. My alma mater is moving, so they don’t want to take in thousands of books either. My brother contacted his church, a large one, but there was no response. I suppose I could use them for a few more years until we can no longer take care of the house and have to move to a condominium, but by then I may not have the strength to haul those boxes of books around!

In the end, a local Christian college came to the rescue. They are expanding their library and just added a new room. The librarian was glad to receive the book donations, and just wanted to make sure that they were sound theologically, which they were. So for the last eight days we had a new routine – picking up empty cartons from supermarkets and IKEA in the morning, packing them with books in the evening, and dropping them off at the bible college the following afternoon. Altogether we donated nearly 200 boxes containing over 7,000 books, leaving about 10% basic tools for my continuing ministry.

We are glad that we found a “nice home” for my collection, which will benefit generations of bible college students to come. Although few wanted it, to me it was a treasure. What if I had invested my time and money in something else other than books? That’s one of those “what might have been” questions that do not have answers. The only regret I have was not being able to make better use of the library due to lack of forward thinking and efficiency. Perhaps spending time digesting a smaller library would be better than spreading myself too thin by scanning many volumes for ideas. Quality is better than quantity. But that’s life management and another story altogether. You only live once, spend it wisely.

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