Books & Catholic guilt

When I was moving from Juneau, Alaska, last month, the Salvation Army wouldn’t take my books.  I walked the mile from my house with at least 50 books in my backpack—good ones, too.  A few samplings of fiction—Carl Hiasson and John Girsham.  And the popular Barack Obama book and Colin Powell’s biography. And others, too, that I have lovingly read over the years.


But as I start talking to the guy at the counter, he shakes his head, explaining to me that he’s received lots of books lately.  But, no!  I look at him and want to explain that, certainly, I’m sure he has received lots of books, but these books, sir; these books will make you money.  Can’t you see it in my overly-eager face?


My earnestness does not faze him and I walk out, dejected, because I know what I have to do.  I have to throw these books away because this is my last day in Juneau and I have no more space left in our shipments. I have to put all of these books in a garbage can.  In this garbage can, here, by the bus stop.  And just in case a police officer drive by thinking I am “dumping” in front of the “no dumping” sign, I move across the street and dump the second half in a bigger bin. 


It is over-dramatically heart-breaking, really.  I feel sick to my stomach.  Literally.  I call my husband and tell him that I know I’m going to hell.


Five years on artificial birth control, seven years of sporadic Mass attendance, praying for snow during our wedding Mass.  No, it’s not these things. No, it’s throwing out the books that convinces me I’m bound for a torturous afterlife.  I cross the street slowly, telling myself not to enjoy the lightened load I am now carrying. 


My husband simply says, Well, I’m on your side.  If you’re going to hell, I’m coming with you.


Sometimes I just love him and his a-religiousness.


4 thoughts on “Books & Catholic guilt

  1. I read something once about a kind of grass-roots informal guerilla book-forwarding thing that’s started up in some cities. People just leave books lying around in public places, with a note attached telling the person who finds it to read it if they like, then leave it somewhere for another person to find. It always struck me as a neat thing to do, and a great way to discard old books.

  2. Ah, as a book-lover this post pains me so! Josh, are you thinking of, or is the book-forwarding you’ve heard of more subversive? I’m a junkie; I can’t help thinking how happy those books could have made someone! I think I’m feeling some sadness/guilt/angst on yours and your books’ behalf.

    But your husband’s proclamation is beautiful.

  3. Yeah, I think it was I hadn’t heard of paperbackswap before I read your post, but it looks pretty cool.

    I’ve got a stack of old books I keep meaning to unload somewhere (to make room in my shelves for the incoming new books of course!) and this post has served to me that I need to do something about that.

  4. ohhh, how sad! I feel your pain. And I love your husband’s a-religiousness too! Talk about thru thick and thin! He’s taking his vows to the afterlife! I hope the move went o.k.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s