My Best Books: Letting Go

by Amy Rogers on August 26, 2011 · 7 comments

Books. I love books. I really love MY books.  I love my three bookshelves: 11 rows of poetry, science fiction, high british literature, low brow comedy, travel narratives, history, and children’s fiction and so much more.  I would love nothing more than to have a library of my own.  

I imagine it like this.  A room of floor-to-ceiling mahogany shelves, with deep comfortable reading chairs next to an enormous window opening out to the vastness of my estate.  Alas, I don’t think I’ll ever have (nor truly want) that expansive estate or library with thousands of books, each and every one read by me.  ‘Tis a dream I’m willing to let go of in the name of another dream: a simpler, purer dream.

 A simple, happy life. That’s the dream.  It seems to me the more stuff you own, the more stuff owns you.  And though I love my books, I don’t need to keep all of them.   Some of them, I think, I’ll hold on to.  But I’m ready to let go of a lot of them.  Truth is, I’ll never read them again.  They are just a status symbol– a  “look! I’m So Smart! I read All of These” type of thing.  

But, there is some part of my pride that wants an inventory of my books so that I can look back and say “see? I DID once read all these.”  Like an electronic library of titles I can look at and feel good about.

Thus begins my inventory.  For my friends and family, these books are available to you.  Otherwise they will be sold and given away.  Just let me know if something looks good to you…I’d be happy to accept donations to the travel fund for maybe just a buck or two per book.  That’s up to you.

It’s hard to know where to start. I’m going to start with the bookshelf OVER THERE.  It holds science fiction, large coffee table books, religious literature, fantasy novels, and children’s books.

Items crossed out are either not available or already spoken for.


Introducing Quantum Theory. J.P. McEvoy.  Great for pre-teens on up to adults.  Lots of pictures and drawings.

Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-time. Marcia Bartusiak.   I love books about physics, time, and space.

The Edges of Science: Crossing the Boundary from Physics to Metaphysics. By Richard Morris.  Universes with universes. Love it.

Belief in God in an Age of Science.  John Polkinghorne.  There was a time when I really questioned science and religion because I was once a practicing conservative christian yet I adored science and theories on relativity, history, and math.  I think more “the-earth-is-6000-years-old” Christians need to read this.

The Mysteries Within. Sherwin B. Nuland.  A gem of a book. A surgeon reflects on medical myths.  Very surprising and interesting.

Rats. Robert Sullivan.  You’d be surprised at how fascinating this subject can be.


The Time Machine. H.G. Wells. So classic. Love how people in the past pictured the future.

From the Earth to the Moon.  Jules Verne.

Robert Heinlein. Methuselah’s Children. I might have to keep all my Heinlein books.  He’s one of my favorite writers ever. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE SCIENCE FICTION. So great!

Stranger in a Strange Land.  Robert A. Heinlein. My first Heinlein novel and my dearest.  How else would I know about Groking or water sharing.  Love it.

The Man who Sold the Moon. Robert. A. Heinlein.  <3

 To Sail beyond the Sunset. Robert A. Heinlein. Great female characters, free love, intelligent cat, high action and adventure, and an underlying philosophy that makes Heinlein great. 

Children of Dune. Frank Herbert.  Nothing quite surpasses his original Dune novel, but I found enjoyment in this novel, nonetheless.

Looking Backward 2000-1887. Edward Bellamy.  Written in 1888, it was hugely popular and later influential for how people and writers viewed the future.  It reads like a piece of social commentary fused with philosophy and anthropological observation. Very interesting.

A Brave New World Revisited. Aldous Huxley. Heavy on the philosophy, light on plot.  More of a treaties than a novel.  Huxley explains his take on mind-control, population control, and technology in a modern era. JIMMY

Upton Sinclair. A Comedy of the Year 2000 The Millennium. A very interesting novel written 1907.  Everyone on earth is killed except 11 people at the top of a building who then set out to begin a utopian society…

Ender’s Game. Orson Scott Card. Totally addicting. That’s what I remember. Hella addicting science fiction. JIMMY

Foundation. Isaac Asimov.  Someone was trying to get me to read his science fiction and ya know what? Worth it. Very good.

Anthem. Ayn Rand. What if in the future everyone is made to be exactly the same.  Try to be different and you’ll have to be killed. Good quick read full of Rand’s philosophy.


Watership Down. RIchard Adams.  My most favorite book as a child.  Willing to give it away but will buy again for my child to read.  It’s about bunnies.  But it’s a very grown up book.

The Elvenbane. Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey. I used to read a lot of fantasy novels.  This has all good fantasy novels have: a strong female lead character, adventure, dragons, etc.

Elvenblood. Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey.

Rebel Sutra.  Shariann Lewitt. I think I started reading this but it was so poorly written I quit.

The Lost Scrolls of Newgrange. Tom Richards. I have owned a few books whose premise is based on the 5000 year old tombs of Newgrange.  I read this adventure book at least twice, I think.

Knife of Dreams. Robert Jordan.  Never read it.  It’s Book 11 of The Wheel of Time.  Looks good though.

Faith of the Fallen.  Terry Goodkind.  I’ve never read it. And it’s big and heavy and looks like a good fantasy read.  Please take! KRISTIN AND MATT

The Golden Compass, The Amber Spyglass, The Subtle Knife. Phillip Pullman.  All 3 books in the series kept me reading all summer.  They inspired a set of movies starring Nicole Kidman.  I loved the books. Characters well developed and a fantasy world I really wanted to believe in. KRISTIN AND MATT


Interzones. Kevin J. Mumford.  Black/white sex districts in chicago and New York in the Early 20th Century.

Major Problems in the History of American Sexuality.  Kathy Peiss.

Women and the American Experience; A Concise History. Nancy Woloch.  Women’s experiences in Iroquois society to roles during slavery through to Japanese women during World War II.

Lesbian Psychologies.  Collected Authors.

Gay and Healthy in a Sick Society.  Robert N Minor.  Autographed!

Egalia’s Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes. Gerd Brantenberg.  What if Women ruled society?


Deliberate Prose. Allen Ginsberg. 

Salinger: A critical and personal portrait by more than twenty foremost writers and critics.


First Year Latin.

Wheelock’s Latin. 6th Edition

Gray’s Anatomy. Huge Clunker of the Book but i Love the illustrations.

Write Source 2000. A guide to writing, thinking, and learning.

Critical Theory Today. Lois Tyson. Everything from Freud to New Historicism.

A Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms.  Ross Murfin. Supryia M. Ray

New and Selected Essays. Denise Levertov. Literary Criticism.

Everyday Theory: A Contemporary Reader.  Becky McLaughlin and Bob Coleman. More literary theory.


A History of Ireland. Peter and FIona Sumerset Fry

The Damnable Question: A History of Anglo-Irish Relations. George Dangerfield

The Irish Countryman. Conrad Arensberg.  An anthropological, historic look at Irish Peasentry.


Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. Joseph J. Ellis.

Sacred Ground. Americans and their Battlefields. Edward Tabor Linenthal.

Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory. Mike Wallace

Remaking America. Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the 20th Century. John Bodnar

Hope in a Jar: The Making of America’s Beauty Culture. Kathy Peiss.

Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America’s Holocaust Museum. Edward T. Linenthal.

The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History. Margaret S. Creighton.  A focus on how the war effected women, blacks, and immigrants.

The Souls of Black Folk. W.E.B. Du Bois.

How the Other Half Lives. Jacob A. Riis.  Published in 1890 this book had a profound impact on society, as the top half truly did not comprehend the squalor the bottom lived in…or the reasons behind it.


Constantine and the Conversion of Europe. A.H.M. Jones Find out why Constantine took up Christianity and how that effected the spread of that religion.  A good read, actually.

Three Byzantine Saints. Elizabeth Dawes & Norman H. Baynes.  Contemporary Biographies of S. Daniel the Stylite, St. Theodore of Sykeon and St. John the Almsgiver.

Beyond Belief. The Secret Gospel of Thomas.  Elaine Pagels.  The Gnostic Gospels gave us a different view of Christianity that had a more favorable view to women and were more tolerant in general.  These gospels were suppressed by authorities.  See why.

Early Christian Doctrines. J.N.D. Kelly

Medieval Culture and Society. David Herlihy KRISTIN AND MATT

The History of the Kings of Britain: Geoffrey of Monmouth


Bibles. I’ve got an NIV, a KJV and 2 Mormon bibles. Please take them all.

Kebra Nagast: The Glory of Kings.  The Ethiopian version of Christianity.

Tao Te Ching. Leo Tzu. Poetry and Philosophy.

A Goddess is a Girl’s Best Friend. Laurie Sue Brockway. Keeping it 🙂

The Scripture of the Golden Eternity. Jack Kerouac. His mediations and words of wisdom.  I might have to keep this one.

Pocket Guide to Celtic Spirituality. I’m keeping this one too

The Healing Energies of the Earth.  This is more my thing. Keeping it.

The Celtic Book of Seasonal Meditations

The Satanic Bible. Aton Szandor LaVey. Not giving this away.  Has a bad rap but very influential for me.

Celtic Inspirations.  Lyn Webster Wilde.

The Te of PIglet. Benjamin Hoff. I was never really into these Te of Piglet or Tao of Pooh books.

The Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis. Thank you Kimberly for inspiring me to read this.  Very cleverly written.  Highly Recommended.

The Stairway to Heaven. Zecharia Sitchin.  This guy writes fascinating stuff. Very well researched and cross-referenced he has a theory about how aliens put us here and how humans became, well, human.  And he’s serious.

From Daniel to Doomsday. John Hagee.  I can’t really remember reading this, but I’m sure it’s from when I thought the book of revelations were coming true any day now.

The Battle for Jerusalem. John Hagee. see above.

The Calestine Prophecy.  James Redfield.  This guy tries to write a novel with a bunch of philosophy but I found it really boring and unreadable.

Bloodline of the Holy Grail. Laurence Gardner. The hidden lineage of Jesus Revealed.  Well researched and interesting if your into Dan Brown or early Christian History. I was into both.


Passage to Vietnam DAVID

The World of Cezanne

The Pope in Ireland

The Royals: Their lives, loves, and secrets.

TIME’s Almanac for kids: 2004

The American Gas Station. Michael Karl Witzel

A Thousand Paths to a Peaceful Life. David Baird.


Villa Incognito. Tom Robbins

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Tom Robbins

Still Life With The Woodpecker. Tom Robbins

Jitterbug Perfume. Tom Robbins

Satire. Kiley and Shuttleworth. From AESOP to Buchwald

The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Huge. Not in good shape  But Full of Great Stories.

Daisy Miller: Henry James.

Sister Carrie. Theodore Dreiser

The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. I never cared for this book, but I read it about 4 times.  It’s a classic. Sheesh.

Tropic of Capricorn. Henry Miller.  Sexy.

Plexus. Henry Miller

Tracks. Louise Erdrich.

Cane. Jean Toomer. A principal literary masterpiece of the Harlem renaissance.

As I Lay Dying. William Faulkner.

Catch-22. Joseph Heller

Night John. Gary Paulson.  A nice Hardcover version.

The Tent. Gary Paulson. Hardcover.

Anarchy, James Robert Baker. A dark novel with dark twists and turns.

The Life of Pi. Yann Martel.  A super sweet heartwarming story of a boy and a hyena, zebra and orangutan and tiger surviving in a life boat. Soon only the boy and tiger are left….

Unaccustomed Earth. Jhumpa Lahiri.  Really heart warming nice short stories from an indian/american perspective.

Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Other Writings. Sui Sin Far.  This is of particular interest if your looking for stories from a US/Chinese immigrant perspective.  Really good stories.

The Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown.  As good as ever. In hardback.

Digital Fortress. Dan Brown.  Not as good as Di Vinci Code or Angels and Demons, but if you were on a Dan Brown kick like I was, you might as well read them all.  Not bad.

House of Leaves. Mark Z. Danielewski  The epitome of a post modern book.  One of my favorite books EVER!  A mental challenge but really fun.  You can quite literally lose yourself in this book. I’m contemplating keeping it…it’s just that it’s so big…

Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan. Carlos Castaneda.   I’ve heard a lot about this guy, but couldn’t really get into this book. Maybe I should have started with another of his books.

In Her Shoes. Jennifer Weiner. Chick read.

The Magic Barrel. Bernard Malamud

The Dante Club. Matthew Pearl.  A riveting page-turner; both gruesome and fascinating.


Ireland. Frank Delaney

The Springs of Affection: Stories from Dublin. Meave Brennan

‘Tis. Frank McCourt

A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man. James Joyce

Amongst Women. John McGahern

On the Blanket: the H. Block Story. Tim Pat Coogan. I have yet to read this and my Grandma gave it to me so…

John B. Keane. Short Stories


The New Penguin Book of English Verse

The Epic of Gilgamesh.

Beowulf. trans. Seamus Heaney

The Aeneid. Virgil

Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer

Arthurian Romances. Chretien De Troyes

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

The Once and Future King. T.H. White

Fableaux: Fair and Fowl.  Poets in medieval times were clever and oftentimes very very naughty.

The Book of Margery Kempe

Paradise Lost. John Milton

King Lear. Shakespeare.

The Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare

British Literature 1640-1789 An Anthology 2nd edition. Ah, an old trusty friend.  Hard to let go of but this thing weighs as much as I do.

Millennium Hall. Sarah Scott.  Very unusual book written by a woman with a vision of a female lead utopia back in 1762!!

Sarum: The Novel of England. Edward Rutherfurd.  Indeed, THE novel of England, Following 5 families from 10,000 years ago to the 1980s. Couldn’t put it down. Really makes you admire history.

Pamela. Samuel Richardson

Evelina. Fanny Burney

Joseph Andrews. Henry Fielding

Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen

Wurthering Heights. Emily Bronte

Popular Fiction by Women 1660-1730

Three Complete Novels of Edith Wharton. The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, The Custom of the Country. RACHEL WAGNER

Maggie:  A Girl of the Streets and Other Short Fiction. Steven Crane

Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoe.

Great Expectations. Charles Dickens

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Mary Wollstonecraft.


The News from Paraguay. Lily Tuck

The Pleasures of Eliza Lynch. Anne Enright


One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Brothers Karamazov. Fyodor Dostoevsky


Life is What happens when you’re making Other Plans. Teresa Bloomingdale.

Let It Come Down. Paul Bowles. Never read it. Don’t know where it came from.

Traveling Ladies: Stories. Janice Kulyk Keefer.


Fairy Tales by E. E. Cummings. First Edition First Printing Collectable. Not Parting with it. 

Irish Sagas and Folk Tales. Eileen O’Faolain. Mine. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain.  A nice big book with good illustrations

An Irish Eye. John Hawkes.  A really good quick read.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Betty Smith.  My best friend gave this to me.

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.  Margaret Sidney.

Into the Land of Unicorns. Bruce Coville.  Good for 11 year olds.

The Secret at Robert’s Roost. Mary M. talent.  Young Adult Fiction

Secrets in the Attic. Carol Beach York. Young adult fiction.

The Mermaid Summer. YAF

Irish Legends

The Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary. Sue Young

Behind the Attic Wall. Sylvia Cassedy.  I can’t tell you how many times I read this as a child.

West From Home. Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder. San Francisco 1915.  Edited by Roger Lea MacBride.

Over the Water. The compelling story of three generations of Irish women. Maude Casey.

Emily of New Moon. L.M. Montgomery.

The Adventures of Haggerty and Friends. Patrick V. O’Sullivan. The first book I can ever remember reading over and over again. 

Island of the Blue Dolphins. Scott O’Dell. I read this about a million times. I LOVED this book. Maybe I should save this one for the kids?

A Wind in the Door. Madaleine L’Engle.  I really enjoyed Mrs. L’Engles works for a while.

Little House on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder.  mmm, not for me.

Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs.  Max McCoy.  YAF

The School at the Chalet. Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The Mutiny on Board the HMS Bountry. William Bligh.  I remember the movie with Mel Gibson a little better than the book.  Hardcover book with big words and illustrations.

Around the World in a Hundred Years, from Henry the Navigator to Magellan. Jean Fritz.

Adventure Stories. Chosen by Clive King.  A gripping collection of daring deeds. YAF

Magic Landscapes. An Omnibus. Mary Wesley.  3 children’s novels in one. Thoughtful and well-written.


100 Questions Every First-Time Homebuyer Should Ask; With answers from top brokers from round the country.  Ilyce R. Glink.

The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Suze Orman

Suze Orman’s Financial Guidebook: Put the 9 Steps to Work.

The Money Book for the Young Fabulous and Broke. Suze Orman.  All Mrs. Orman’s books are good.

Getting Things Done. The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. David Allen. This book is awesome. I read it and did what it said and now I truly do better at managing my time and getting things done.

The Acrylics and Douache Artist’s Handbook

Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want you to Know About. Kevin Trudeau. A very smart book about how the pharmaceutical industry and medical community has a vested interest in keeping you sick, otherwise they’d be out of the job.  Lots of good advice.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel.


Are You There, Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea. Chelsea Handler.  Laugh out loud hilarious. Raunchy, sexy, gross.  Loved it.

America (The Book): John Stewart.


(I’m keeping a lot of these)

Opened Ground. Seamus Heaney

A Book of Vulgar Verse by A Gentleman About Town.

Patrick Kavanagh: Selected Poems.   

Rumi: The Book of Love

The Poem Itself.  45 Modern Poets translated to English.

Contemporary American Poerty.  Gems!

Selected Plays: Brian Friel.

Dancing at Lughnasa. Brian Friel (2 copies)

The Mentor Book of major American Poets.

Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry. Kenneth Koch.

Irish Proverbs. Fionnuala Williams. 

John Keats. Selected Poems.

A Book of Love Poetry.

Luster. Don Bogen

Carnal World. Terri Witek

Why They Grow Wings. Nin Andrews.

The Niagara River. Kay Ryan

Flight and Earlier Poems. Vona Groarke

Under The Moon: The Unpublished Early Poetry of W.B Yeats

And Introduction to Japanese Court Poetry. Earl Miner.

Spoon River Anthology. Edgar Lee Masters.

Xaipe. E.E. Cummings

E.E. Cummings, Selected Poems.

Hedda Gabler. Henrik Ibsen


A Natural History of the Senses. Diane Ackerman.  One of my Favorite Books for a LONG LONG time.  So well written and full of fact and poetry.

America’s Victory: The Story of a Team of Ordinary Americans–and How they Won the Greatest Yacht Race Ever. David W. Shaw.

When the Hands Are Many. Jennie M. Smith.  Community Organization and Social Change in Rural Haiti.

Three Cups of Tea. Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.  Mr. Mortenson got a bad rap for stretching the truth to make this book, but none-the-less it is a wonderful read that brought me to tears time and time again.  Very inspirational.

A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill Bryson

In a Sunburned Country. Bill Bryson. My first Bryson novel. About Australia.

Neither Here not There; Travels in Europe. Bill Bryson

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

seriestracker August 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I am not brave enough to pull mine from my wall of book-shelves – but, I say “good for you” since I would have so much room for some many more if I were that brave!


thriftydrifter August 26, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Thanks seriestracker, but it’s not so much bravery as determined self-limitation. I’m trying to drastically reduce the amount of possessions I have to that when I travel I don’t have to store as much stuff….Hard to do! My art, my family heirlooms- I can’t get rid of it all!! or can I?


silverfinofhope August 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Love this list! That’s a good idea, to do a thorough cataloging of one’s books. Mine are so many and so willy nilly.

I love Dune, too. It’s rare to find another girl who does!


thriftydrifter August 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I’ve always been one of the guys. Science fiction DUNE!. Getting dirty CAMPING!. First Person Shooters HALO! I’m SUCH a nerd! What else makes you a nerd and sets you apart from your lady-friends, Silverfinofhope?


davidstrachan611 August 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I sat on the bus beside a woman who was reading ‘Bleak House’. Made my day, that. Dickens..whoah! Everybody else talking into their mobiles or listening through leaky earphones to whatever and this lovely woman was lost in the world of Charles Dickens.
Sad to see eecummings crossed off your list though
Liked your happy summit photograph


thriftydrifter August 26, 2011 at 6:02 pm

EE Cummings crossed out because I’m hoarding him! LOVE IT! David, i’m off to say hello to your blog! See you there!


James Broadhead (@jamesbroadhead) September 6, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I’ve also recently started selling off my paper books — instead I’ve switched to ebooks; much more portable! 🙂

I found this page by searching for “childrens book newgrange”, which was just about all I remembered about “The Lost Scrolls of Newgrange”, which I read when I was very young. Thanks for helping me find the title! 🙂


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