Saying Goodbye To Old Friends

The books that I am removing from my library.
The books that I am removing from my library.

I have decided to de-accession some of my books in preparation for my upcoming move. This is a difficult decision because I love my books, not just for their content, but also for the history that they embody. My obsessive book collecting is one way to document my life. There are many books that I have which I know I will almost certainly not read again and which probably will never come in handy as reference for my research, but I keep them because of the memories that I associate with them. Thus giving some of them away is like giving away part of myself, which sounds cliche, but is true in my case. I am not just a person with lots of books, I am a cyborg in the Harawayan sense who consists of my physical person and my books (and perhaps a few other objects as well).

But this group of books that I’ll take to my local bookstore (the Central Book Exchange) for some cash no longer have enough nostalgia attached to them to justify moving across the country. Most of the nonfiction is well-written, I’ll just never read it again. Most of the fiction (clearly not all–War and Peace is pretty decent, ha ha) is not. A few of the books are excellent, but I have two copies and only need one. It is an interesting cross-section of texts: some old religion textbooks from my undergraduate days, some superfluous chess books (I’ve had Pawn Power in Chess since high school, but I still haven’t read it, and haven’t played in about three years, so I wouldn’t get to it any time soon), some fiction.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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