The book blogosphere threw a virtual book burning and I wasn't invited. =(
But in all fairness, I've been so out of the loop these days that they could have hired a marching band to deliver the invitation to my door and I still probably wouldn't have noticed.
I refer of course to last Tuesday's blog party at The Broke and the Bookish, in which over 200 people linked up their lists of Top Ten Books to Save from a Disaster. (How do I miss these things???)
It seems a little silly to prepare a full Tenner when I'm closer to next Tuesday's party than to this last one, but my blogging muse insists on getting in on the fun. So here's a Three-Legged List for you all, complete with out-of-focus photos of the books that beat the fire . . .
3 Books from My Library
That I'd Rescue from a Fire
That I'd Rescue from a Fire
Divine Mercy in My Soul by St. Faustina Kowalska
We are living in a time when the loss of physical books is not as big a deal as it was in the Middle Ages (or in eras yet older). No matter how many "hard" copies of a text are destroyed, as long as a single "soft" copy remains, we're all good. A book would have to be a really old manuscript or rare edition for its loss to be a real blow.
Divine Mercy in My Soul is the faithfully kept diary of St. Faustina Kowalska, who filled up six notebooks over several years. (There would have been more, had she not destroyed one of them, at the command of an entity claiming to be an angel. Which is kind of relevant to this issue even if you don't believe in angels . . . or demons.) I presume the actual notebooks are somewhere safe and fireproof in Poland. Their content, translated into numerous languages, have been spread all over the world.
A religious book is like a rosary. Its "body" doesn't matter as much as its "spirit"--and if I lost this particular book or my current rosary, I could always get another one and keep going without breaking my stride. And yet there is something "religious but not spiritual"--and therefore, valuable--in the feel of familiar friends and the retracing of worn paths. I have used this particularly book in prayer and meditation since my grandmother bought it for me in 2003, and I would feel its loss keenly if anything ever happened to it.
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
Speaking of "hard" copies, I have one that's also a manuscript. Born of my frustration with whomever were borrowing the copies of G.K. Chesterton's Orthdoxy from the uni library and the city's public library, and keeping them overdue for months, my very, very special "edition" of the same was copied out in a little under six weeks, right after I finally got a friend at one library to intercept the book for me at Returns.
That's right: I literally wrote the whole thing. Unless there is a copy of Orthodoxy somewhere that Chesterton himself spilled some ale on while arguing vehemently with Hilaire Belloc, I don't think you could find another that beats mine in the uniqueness department. Saved from a fire? There's no question!
Only after I had left uni behind me, with no hope of ever seeing it again, did I learn I may have copied the wrong Chesterton book. Orthodoxy is Orthodoxy, no matter where you find it, but there are early editions of The Everlasting Man that are significantly different from the revised version we have now. I was lucky enough to read a very old Everlasting Man in my uni library, and unlucky enough to realise it only after I was an ocean away and unable to look up what happened to be my favourite passage in the whole book. (It just figures that Chesterton would take out my favourite part, aye?)
Young Unicorns by Madeleine L'Engle
This is the most random, arbitrary choice of the bunch because Young Unicorns isn't a huge favourite of mine or even my favourite Madeleine L'Engle novel. I just really, really like the copy I happen to have because of its cover art.
And it's probably not even great cover art. =P I just love the atmosphere.
The various browns, the accents of faded turquoise, the spotty, "aged" background, the characters' body language and their hair blowing in the wind, even the font . . . There's little about this cover that doesn't work for me. (And in case you're wondering what that "little" is, it's the tomato red colour used for the author's name.)
There are many other titles from Dell Publishing that got this sort of cover treatment back in the 1970s and 1980s. I have several more that I was lucky to find when I started my little library over a decade later. If I had done a full Tenner, all of those old editions would have been photographed in a line up and named as special enough to save from the flames.
Image Source: The Miracle of Fanjeaux by Pedro Berruguete