Can you remember the day when you first met a good friend?
I recall so many of those days. Great memories!
But can you also remember the last time you ever saw those friends? How it hurt to say goodbye? How you weren’t sure you’d ever see them again?
I’m about to experience that feeling multiplied many times over.
Because for 40 years, books have been my friends.
My wife and I have been reviewing every possession we own to see if we want to (a) keep it, (b) sell it, (c) trash it, or (d) give it away. I applied for an exemption for my books, but it was denied.
When we moved into our current home, I carefully went through every book I owned, placing the ones I value most on the bookshelves in my study. Here’s a photo of 60% of them:
I have so many books that I buy very few anymore, although I do let myself be seduced on occasion. If I can purchase a volume on Kindle for a lesser rate than a hard copy, I’ll do that. There just isn’t space anymore for all my friends.
And they are my friends. I can tell you when I first met most of them.
Some I inherited from my grandfather or father.
Some were purchased for me by my mother or wife or children.
Some were obtained through CBD – Christian Book Discounters, the mail-order group.
Some were bought at bookstores, although those are becoming increasingly extinct.
Some were given to me as gifts by people I treasure – and in most cases, I’m saving those, even if I never plan on using them again.
And some were purchased on Amazon, the website that has curtailed my bookstore visits by 78%.
Many people have asked me, “Jim, have you read all those books?” My answer is always the same: “No, I’ve read many of them, but I’ve used all of them.”
Some books are signed by people like Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew, John Wooden, Barry Goldwater, Robert Novak, Josh McDowell, and R. A. Torrey. Those are definitely keepers.
But other books are dated. I have a set of small paperbacks from 30 years ago on how to do church ministry. I devoured those books at the time, but they’re practically worthless today – so maybe someone else can use them.
Then there are sets I acquired when I was in college, like William Hendriksen’s commentaries on the New Testament. I read his entire commentary on Mark and used all the others, but I haven’t consulted them in years – so off they go.
I found a large bookstore not too far away that buys book collections. They even come to your house to make you an offer. How much do you think I can get for 17 boxes’ worth?
There’s just something about books that I love: the typeset, the layout, sometimes even the smell … it’s all so inviting.
My friends have never rejected me, though they play hide’n’seek at times. They’re just always there when I need them.
After looking at every one of my companions, I’ve decided to keep the rest of the books in these boxes:
I promised my wife that I’d only keep enough books to fill one more bookshelf. I get six shelves, she gets two – and one is for DVDs. So I’m going to have to say goodbye to even more friends in the future.
It’s almost unbearable.
When I’m watching sports … when I’m ready to fall asleep … when I’m meeting with God … when I’m conducting research … when I need some friendly advice … when I just want to curl up on a rainy day … I reach out for a friend.
And my friends have never let me down.