11 September 2013

Chris' bookcase

"Here is a picture of my book case that I lost in the floods that hit southern Alberta this year The most ironic book was the first one that floated up at me: Fooled by Randomness by Taleb - one of my favorite books.

My bookshelf was a mix of finance-oriented books, good novels, knick knack curiosity books picked up at used book stores, and the occasional decoration that my wonderful wife put on the shelf to pretty it up. Lately the bottom two shelves were full of children's board books and early readers. I have finally gotten my oldest interested in reading Tolkien and hopefully Bradbury and Asimov soon. It is going to be fun going to used book stores to discover these books again.

In total the volunteers that helped me lift all the useful and useless memories out of my basement lifted thousands of books - God bless the volunteers that lifted my textbooks out. They were heavy enough lugging to classes, but full of water....

The things I was sad to see go were: my Economist magazines - I saved the ones that were 'historical,' culling them every couple of years; my small print finds like a collection of 22 proactive Canadians in the spirit of Bob Edwards; and compilations of Economist papers that I had personally compiled from all the AER tombs and painstakingly photocopied and bound for seminar course reading lists.

Really though I just realized that this bookcase was memories, and sooner or later it and the books on it were destined for a dumpster. The friends that came to help muck it out in the goo and stink and lift the water-filled books and couches up a lot of stairs ... well those I was glad to have. Heck of a wake for all those books."
I had intended this "reader's bookcases" topic to be a couple-times-a-month feature, but the stories are so interesting that I'm eager to post them, even though I'll use up the material faster.  Readers who would like to submit material for this feature will find guidelines here.


  1. Hey fellow Canadian! Thank you for sharing with vulnerability and happiness all wrapped up together, it was good to read. I'm originally from Southern Alberta and it's been hard to be so far away this summer. Strength for the clean up and the journey!!

  2. I lost all my books in the Cerro Grande fire of 2000, which destroyed part of Los Alamos and heavily damaged other homes, like mine. I had books of many types, some from my years of teaching in community college.
    The only ones I kept were the Bible from England and the book about the history of Butte Montana, where my mother was born. I keep these two books in baggies and read them wearing gloves, as they are toxic from the fire's fumes. When there is a such as the Cerro Grande, books and cloth may be imbued with toxic chemicals from the smoke itself, from the orange slurry bombs used as fire retardant, and from chemicals such as asbestos which are released from the basements of burned older buildings. The place was unlivable for two years. Then we had another bad forest fire in 2011. No place is an easy place to live.

  3. So sad. May you find more books soon.

  4. Just seeing the picture, before reading the text, I was immediately sad. I hate to see any book rendered unreadable. But then I read your text. And I agree - while keeping books that you loved is like a scrapbook of your reading life, and it's great to go back over the "pages" to reminisce, refilling them will be a great adventure as well. My boyfriend and I used to road trip to used book stores all over the place. We've found some really cool stores, and some really cool people. Now, with the internet, we don't road trip so much and I find that I miss it. We still have several local stores in about an hour's drive radius that we frequent, but that's it. I almost envy you the getting to start over. Still sad for your loss, but hoping you have fun in your restocking! ~~ POMC


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