My Lost pre-U.S.-Sojourn Library

24 Festive Tasks: Door 7 – International Day for Tolerance: Task 3

The French expression for tolerance towards others is “laisser faire, laisser aller” (roughly: “let them do as they want, let it go”).  Have you ever “let go” a book (e.g., given it away or decided not to yield to the temptation to buy it) and later regretted that choice?

 


Part of my library — these days, consisting only of the books I started collecting in the U.S. and after returning to Germany

When I moved to the U.S. some 20+ years ago, I had to “let go” of my entire library; all the books I had owned from childhood to my late 20s / early 30s: I was leaving a full-time job to go back to university and exchanging a 100+ sqm (1100 sq ft) / three-room apartment for student accommodation consisting of a single room.  Even leaving aside luggage restrictions and shipping costs, there was no way I was going to be able to bring my entire library.

If I could have entrusted my library to my mom, I would have done just that; I knew that she’d have guarded it for me like the apple of her eye — she knew it was my most prized possession in the entire world.  Unfortunately, that was not an option; my mom’s apartment was smaller than my own and, of course, entirely taken up by her own things, and there was not enough room in her basement, either.  So I reluctantly had to entrust my library to someone else, who made room in the basement of a building he owned.  Where, in due course, the whole basement was flooded; including the boxes containing my books, of course, almost none of which survived … of which fact, in turn, I was only informed when I returned to Germany several years later.  I still can’t think of any alternative storage option (commercial self-storage wasn’t an affordable thing in Germany at the time), and I suppose once the water damage had happened, it wasn’t ultimately of earthshattering importance precisely when I learned about it.  But do I regret it all?  You bet I do.  And guess who I’ve never entrusted with anything ever again, however small and unimportant it might be.  I’m not sure how “tolerant” or liberal others might find me as a general matter (in lifestyle choices and matters of equality probably much more so than in some other respects), but I am extremely unforgiving of any harm or damage when it comes to my books.  Always have been, and if anything, am now even more so.

 

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