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Books That We’ll Keep Forever

November 3, 2015
This might be beat up, but it's been in my family for over 50 years.

This might be beat up, but it’s been in my family for generations.

I don’t keep many books anymore. Up until a few years ago, though, I used to be a book hoarder.  I was proud of my collection.   But then my wife and I had kids, other stuff accumulated in our house, we started moving around a lot, and books became digitized.

With all that was going on, it was more convenient and practical to sell or give away most of my books.  I don’t miss them.  But there are a few books that I kept, and I’m glad I did.  Each book that I kept has a story behind it, and those stories are more important than the stories in the actual books.

Book With Sentimental Value- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (pictured above)

Tom Sawyer isn’t my favorite book ever, but I like it, and this copy was originally owned by my grandparents.  My grandmother gave this to my grandpa as a gift in the 1950’s, and then she gave it to me (I think) in the 1970’s when my grandfather wasn’t really reading that much anymore.  I didn’t understand everything that was going on (I do now, but I won’t get into the details), but I knew enough to keep that book.  I still have it.  I’ll give it (or my wife will give it) to one of my daughters.

Another Book With Sentimental Value- The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

I might never had read this if it hadn't just laying around the house.

I don’t think I was meant to own this copy.

My dad owned this copy, and it’s also beat up.  I like this book too (I think I like beat up books), but I’m not sure I was meant to have it.  I think it was on my dad’s bookshelf when I was a teenager, and I never put it back.  It took me a long time to read (it’s three books, and I think I got bored for a while in the second book, but I’m not sure).  Anyway, when I see this book, I think of my dad, and sometimes I even read a section or two.

The Books I’d Keep If I Still Had Them- The Wizard of Oz (and the other books in the series) by Frank Baum

I didn’t give these away on purpose.  When I was growing up, my family had a complete hardbound collection of the entire Wizard of Oz series.  I read them all (or most of them).  My older brothers and sister read them before I did.  My mom lent them to each of my siblings to read to their kids, and somewhere along the way, the books disappeared.

Everybody in my family claims that they gave the books back to my mom, but she doesn’t have them and doesn’t know which of her kids/grandkids had them last.  I feel cheated because I didn’t have them for my own daughters.  People think the youngest child in a family gets spoiled, but in this case I got screwed over.

The Book That I Know I Still Have But Can’t Find- The Godfather by Mario Puzo

I bought this beat up paperback at an obscure used book store back in the late 1970s.  Everybody talked about The Godfather movies, but I couldn’t see them because I was too young, and cable/internet didn’t exist back then.  So I read the book.  And it was great.  40 years later, I still occasionally read this book.

Whenever I get reader’s block, I pull out this copy of The Godfather.  It has magical powers.  It cures reader’s block.  I’ll be really pissed off if I don’t find it soon.

The Book I Wish I Still Had- The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

First of all, The Chocolate War might be one of the worst titles for a book.  It’s a YA novel about boys written for boys, but the title probably turned off a bunch of teenagers who might have appreciated it if not for the bad title.  I received a copy of The Chocolate War as a Christmas present when I was maybe 11 or 12.  I thought the title was stupid then (I hope I didn’t say that to the relative who gave it to me), and I didn’t read it for a long time.

It was years before I finally read it.  I don’t remember why I read it after waiting so long.  All I remember is that when I read it, I thought: This is surprisingly good.  I don’t know what happened to the original copy I own.

My Own Book That I Want To Pass Down- My Book About Me by Dr. Seuss

I filled out the entire book and never put my picture on the cover. I wasn't THAT ugly.

I filled out the entire book and never put my picture on the cover.

My mom gave this back to me a decade ago.  I had forgotten all about it.  I think I was 4 when my I completed it, and now I’m glad my mom kept it (Thanks, Mom!).  Both of my daughters have their own now, and I’m keeping their copies until they’re adults.

The only problem with My Book About Me is that the short story that I wrote in the back of the book isn’t very good.  And it needs a lot of revising and editing.  What was I thinking when I wrote it?


Books with sentimental value are great.  While reading the books, you can be entertained and bring back fond memories at the same time.  What books have sentimental value to you?  What books will you always keep?  What is the story behind them?  What book has magical powers for you?


These two books from Dysfunctional Literacy will always have some sentimental value to me… because I wrote them.

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  1. I’m holding on to my Toni Morrison collection. She’s the first writer who made me think differently about writing. 🙂

    • I like Toni Morrison too. I’ve never read any of her books, but my wife was buying a Toni Morrison book when I met her (and we still have that book). Maybe I should read that book sometime.

      I was buying a Tom Clancy book when I met my wife, but I don’t have that book anymore. It’s not a reflection on my relationship with my wife. It’s just that Tom Clancy books take up lots of space.

      Anyway, I like Toni Morrison too.

  2. I’ll give credit where it’s due to you. Tearing a reader from their books is insanity and you having the will power to separate yourself from yours is phenomenal. I never could, I’m far too attached.I suffer from a librarian’s mentality.

  3. This post reads differently from your others. I like your other posts, but I like this one because it’s different. It has a new tone that a can’t quite put my finger on.

  4. I have lots of books that hold a special place in my heart (it also might be because I am a book hoarder?), but I will always hold on to my copy of “The Jungle Book”. It was the first book I bought with my own pocket money as a kid and it even has my name scribbled on the front page.

    • The first book you bought with your own pocket money? That’s great! You remember what the first book you bought was (I don’t remember what book I bought first), and you still have it (I probably don’t still have it). That’s a great combination.

  5. All my 7 books of the Dark Tower Series aren’t going anywhere. Thought provoking, heartfelt and brilliant.

  6. I don’t like being separated from books either. I still have the copy of Precious Bane by Mary Webb I read when I was eighteen and still wanted to live in a farm by a mere – in the 19thC (It’s the setting for the book :))
    I wish I still had The Dark is Rising books by Susan Cooper which I read and FELL IN LOVE WITH when I was about 10/11. Picked up a second hand compilation of them a while back and its yellowed pages almost con me into believing it was my own copy from thirty plus years ago – almost.

  7. I had to give away and sell my collection too when we moved from the country to the suburb due to lack of space. But Like you I keep some of my favorites and first edition ones. There are the books I’m going to save if there is a fire.
    Summer Of ’42 by Herman Raucher
    The woman destroyed by Simone De Beauvoir
    A Rock And A Hard Place Anthony Godby Johnson
    Billy Straight by Jonathan Kellerman
    The Phantom by Susan Kay
    Please Love Me by Keith Miller
    AND The complete works of Edgar Allan Poe

  8. So a few years back we were having a space issue with our books. So we did a purge and still needed more space. So I boxed, in one of those heavy duty plastic boxes that cost way too much for a storage item, my entire Agatha Christie collection and then put it in my closet so I could still paw through the books as needed. I can’t imagine not having those books, not reading each one every year. I’ve been collecting them since I was 8 and I have everything she ever wrote.

  9. Lael permalink

    My Little House Books will never leave me!

  10. Still hoarding here, even after buying a Kindle last year. I guess kids are really needed to let go of them…most of them.

  11. I’ve kept multiple copies of The Scarlet Pimpernel for ages (talk about another book that would have a much larger following if the title were different). My giant two volume unabridged copy of The Count of Monte Cristo isn’t going anywhere either.

    • That’s true, The Scarlet Pimpernel is a title that hasn’t made a good transition into the 21st (or even the 20th) century. It’s still a good book, though.

  12. i gotta admit: that was painful like a death. i’m no luddite by any means, but books are bedrock, man. imagination the statue of liberty standing on a simulation of granite rather than a gigantic hunk of hewn stone.

  13. Whitney permalink

    I have a copy of Franny and Zooey that I stole when I was fifteen or so from my grandmother’s basement. Every time I pick it up, not only do I get Salinger’s story, I get the most amazing memories of my grandmother. If I can prevent anything bad from happening to it, I will hold on to that copy for the rest of my life.

  14. I have a collection of Dr Seuss books most bought as an adult, but loved as a child but the librarian insisted I return them. The Collected Works of Shakespeare that has traveled with me to three continents and brings back memories of falling in love with live theater when I was 9 and watching a performance of Othello backstage. I didn’t understand everything, but loved the sound of the language.

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  1. Books That We’ll Keep Forever | THE BILLS of INSUA

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