Last week I was at the Together for the Gospel 2012 conference. While there, I listened to some wonderful exposition of the Scriptures, enjoyed some terrific conversations with friends old and new, and, of course, received a TON of books.
For attending the conference, I received all these:
As an attendee at Band of Bloggers, I also received this pile:
(On top of these, I also purchased four or five small books.)
When I shared these pictures on Twitter last week, I was asked a great question: “At what point do the gift books go from blessing to burden?”
While carting the things home can be an issue (particularly for those flying), that part doesn’t bother me too much. Having given the question some thought over the last few days, I hopefully have come to some sort of conclusion on the matter.
There are two ways that gift books can become a burden rather than a blessing for me. The first is when I can’t find a home for them. There are currently twenty-some odd books sitting on my coffee table, for which I am trying to figure out a home (either on my bookshelves or other people’s). I gave my friend Brad my copy of The Explicit Gospel (since I already have it), and am giving my office copies of What is the Mission of the Church? and Gospel (again, since I have these and don’t need duplicates). Inevitably, I’ll end up giving away a number of the remaining books to friends nearby, either because of time constraints or lack of interest in the content. Lord willing, the pile won’t be on my coffee table too much longer (something that will cause my wife to rejoice).
The other way is the prideful desire to keep them all—even if I’m not going to read the darn things. It’s probably the most ridiculous thing to have this feeling over, but there’s something really, really nice about having a “big” library of books. It feels good when people come over and see all the books on the shelves in the living room and are impressed. “Those are all your books?” they sometimes say, to which it’s awfully tempting to reply, “Actually, there’s another shelf in the basement. And another one upstairs…”
(Pride and logic are often ships passing in the night.)
Part of the way that I fight this is by giving them away and periodically trying to purge my shelves of books I’m either never going to read or have such little permanent value that there’s no point in keeping them. (And again, this causes my wife to rejoice.)
If I didn’t have a way to get rid of the books I’m not going to read, I’m sure it would feel like more of a burden to me.
What about you? At what point do gift books become more of a burden than a blessing (if at all)?