As most nonfiction scribblers know, research is necessary before writing and that often means buying books to learn what other authors have to say about a topic. At least that was my practice. (I’m aware that these days many writers as well as non-writers download books on kindle or whatever.) But I prefer printed books on paper—with hard or paper covers. Because I’ve purchased hundreds of books for research, I have filled all the bookshelves in my home. So I ask myself if I should try to make space for others.
I could donate some to my local library for their book sale events. Or I could give them to the Peace Corps, Books for Soldiers, BetterWorldBooks, Thrift Shops, Salvation Army, Book Aid International, Goodwill, Books through Bars/Prisons… My quick Google search led to dozens of possible places to donate.
But there’s an obstacle for me and it’s probably a selfish one. I look at a group of books on a specific subject and wonder if perhaps I’ll need those for another writing project or just because I’m curious about a topic. History books, for example. History books may become outdated but history is history. There might be something interesting in the Encyclopedia of the Twentieth Century or The History of the World or The Oxford History of the American People.
I have a shelf full of books about Communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong and China so I wondered if some of that history would be relevant to the current U.S. vs China situation. Is the current Chinese President Xi Jinping, like Mao? Probably not. But rereading about Mao, I found that his personal life was in some ways like Trump’s. To Mao’s followers, Chairman Mao could do no wrong. He was worshiped, praised, and feared. But he was also seen as decadent, contradictory, demanding, paranoid, tyrannical, selfish, and unfeeling. Hmmm. Seem familiar? Those descriptions have often been used to describe Donald J. Trump.
Two of my bookshelves contain titles about prejudice, bigotry, racism, African-American civil rights movement, antisemitism, and anti-Hispanic groups—all written in past decades. Unfortunately, the pages of those older books describe the same kind of bigotry, racism and hatred still going on in some parts of the United States.
Another shelf is packed with books about various religious denominations, which I don’t want to discard because of my interest in and hope to publish a book about the separation of religion and government. As noted in a previous blog, a U.S. Constitutionally protected wall between government and religion appears to be falling apart.
I have books used for research on protecting our environment, issues regarding divorce, eating healthy food and the lack of food in many parts of America and other countries. The problems pointed out in these books are still relevant today.
Well, I guess I’m back to the beginning of this blog. To answer my own question. I am keeping my books!