Landfill Fodder


Alston, where the second hand bookshop was having a turn out. There in front of the shop was a skip full of books! I felt like doing a funeral or something, instead I picked over them. Opening, having a sniff at that only-old-books-can-smell-like-that smell, then closing again. And this is somebody who doesn’t really like books that much!


Rural Rides, by William Cobbett is an English classic and Gargantua and Pantagruel, by François Rabelais is funny and violent and quite free from any prudishness according to the Wikipedia entry. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, another skip casualty, can be downloaded free from the Internet.

Farewell books, it’s to the landfill for you lot. I did the best I could by spending a few moments cherishing and respecting them. Still, it was hard to let them go.

The photographs were taken on a mobile phone. Not great quality, yet they have a quality all of their own. Just like the skip full of books.

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4 thoughts on “Landfill Fodder”

  1. Ahhhh books! When I moved to Germany, I had many of my books sent over by ship. However, it was not possible to send all of them, so I had a yard sale…people showed up early even before we were ready and it was a bit difficult to see people going through MY books and even harder was seeing a book being bought by the WRONG person!(At least that’s how my thoughts were working!) A good lesson in letting go! And amazingly at the yard sale I made over 2,000 dollars!

  2. Books do occupy so much space (physical and spiritual) as “things”, though. We have so many and so little space to keep them all in. One thing I’ve finally started doing is gritting my teeth and packing off everything to charity that I can find on Project Gutenberg or similar. If I can download any time I REALLY want to read the complete poems of Byron, I can’t find an excuse to keep it out of our charity bag.

  3. Thanks for your input. $2000 for your books Jack is remarkable, especially at a yard sale.

    Yes, and I know what you mean about books taking up space on many levels. I’ve given away books a number of times, only to regret it later. I’ve lost a whole box of my basic Buddhist reference books and then found them again four years later in an attic. I was really glad to be reunited with them too. So there is a shifting population and a shifting relationship to books for me.

    When I went to the US to be a monk in 1980 my belongings were in a backpack, which I could lift and carry. There was also a box of books, which came via mail. That’s all I had in the world and it felt good to be traveling light. Very soon however I found out the greater weight was what I carried in my mind!

    If I had talked to somebody about this drastic shedding of my belongings before entering the monastery I’d probably have kept more stuff. Some of it would have come in handy later on in my monastic life. So, if you are thinking of following up on a monastic vocation, the physical stuff doesn’t need to all go. Just the clinging to it.

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