Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Free books don't count as buying books!

Technically, these don't count as cheating!  A ban on book-buying says nothing about books you're given for free!  (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)  And even my husband agrees that as academics, we can't pass up the opportunity when a professor gives away his or her library.

I happened to walk into the divinity school library today just as two carts full of free books were released into the wild.  It was kind of a mad free-for-all.  There were quite a number of us crowding around (very politely, as is typical for divinity school students), trying to see titles, and grabbing any that looked interesting for further inspection.  Somebody (a div school professor?) had just retired and offered up all of these books to new homes.  I saw somebody walk off with three identical copies of Dante's Divine Comedy, and a lot of others were very excited by historical theological works.  For my own part, I found myself profoundly grateful to be the only music historian who regularly hangs around the divinity school.  All of these music books were passed over, and I was thrilled to find them.  Several are classic textbooks in my field, and will join my others as useful resources when I begin teaching music history survey courses.  The book on humanism and the Italian Renaissance is by one of the great musicological giants, out of print and impossible to find, and will be a perfect accompaniment to the class I'm currently taking on Monteverdi's madrigals!  Two of these will be gifts for family members.  And the one I'm really intrigued by is Real Presences.  I pulled it off the cart thinking it would be about transubstantiation or conflicts in Eucharistic theology, but it isn't.  Instead, it's about God's presence in artistic creation - the same theme I'll be studying all semester in my Theology and Music class.

In addition to these fabulous musicology texts, there was also some fiction, and it would seem as if I was the only reader of classic literature in the group of eager bookish students, because I had no competition for these:

I've never read any of these authors, but have wanted to for quite some time now.  Of course, to my trained eye, Penguin and Oxford editions leap off any shelf to my attention!  It's crazy that I'm a scholar of English religious culture and have never read Ivanhoe (I even quoted from it in a ninth-grade research project for the National History Day competition on cultural exchange following the Norman Conquest).  Flaubert's Sentimental Education is supposed to be his masterpiece, even over Madame Bovary.  I wonder if I should read that one first?  And I've been dying to read Trollope ever since seeing so many book bloggers rave.  I was absolutely delighted to find the first two books of his Barchester series, as well as a stand-alone novel.  Interestingly, based on my book-collecting habits in the last year or so, this entire stack is comprised of novels by men.  I suppose as a feminist intent on gender equality, this is a good thing!

So then I had to figure out how to carry all of these for the rest of the day...  Between stacks of library books for research and occasional finds like these, my arm muscles are going to get buff!

Many thanks to whomever it was who gave so many wonderful books away.  They'll be extraordinarily useful to a new generation of scholars!

11 comments:

  1. Free books?!? This is the stuff of dreams. I love Trollope so am excited to see a few of his books in your stack!

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    1. I know, it was totally unexpected and amazing to happen to walk into the library at the exact right moment.

      Based on what you and others have said about Trollope I'm almost certain I will love him too. :-)

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  2. I totally agree with your 'free books don't count logic.'

    We have a whole bookshelf in our department lounge where we put free books for anyone who wants them. I've put out quite a lot myself over the years, usually 'lightly used' teaching copies of 19thC novels. I'm always happy to think of them going to new homes when I adopt a new edition for my classes!

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    1. That sounds like a very friendly and encouraging department! I hope a lot of your students take advantage, especially if those placed on the free shelf are not books with which they're already familiar.

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  3. Oh, of COURSE free books don't count! That's the safest 'cheat' in the world - it's when you start saying that discounted books don't count that you're in trouble ;)

    What a wonderful chance to get some gems. I read my first Trollope (The Warden) last year, and was surprised by how much I loved it. A really complex, wonderful character. Maybe I'll read Barchester Towers this year...

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    1. It seems that all of us book bloggers agree about the cheat-free nature of free books! My husband thinks I've disobeyed the spirit, if not the letter of the law, but then he came home the next day with several free books of his own!

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  4. Oh yes! Free books are in the same realm as gifts! And it would be rude to turn those away :)

    I have such good memories of reading Ivanhoe for the first time when I was pregnant with my first daughter and suffered from incessant insomnia. Every night I would wake up at 2am and Ivanhoe kept me company in the dark of the night.

    Enjoy your new books, Samantha!

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    1. Isn't it funny how books often become intrinsically tied to the situation in which we read them? I've got a set of books that I used to read after school while always eating the same snack (Ritz crackers with peanut butter and a hot cocoa) and listening to the same CD. Now those things always remind me of those books, and the books make me hungry for my favorite childhood snack! I'm glad you had a wonderful book to dive into when you couldn't sleep. Have you read it again since? If so, did it stir up strong memories of being pregnant, or of reading in the middle of the night?

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  5. Oh my goodness! What a find! I'm so happy for you!

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  6. I'm going to be bookmarking this post for when I want some music-history titles. And,no, free books definitely don't count! ;)

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    1. If you're ever looking for some recommendations, please do ask! I'm an early music specialist, which means I tend to focus on music pre-1750, but I'm familiar with a lot of classic texts that work with music across the whole range of Western art music.

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