Don’t Burn Books, Write In Them

My last post reminded me of a great post at Friendly Atheist last month.  A former Christian was torn about what to do with her once much beloved Left Behind books which she now deemed too worthless to keep and too corrosive to donate to impressionable young girls.  She, like me, has also has a thing against destroying books, which rules out that option.  Hemant Mehta’s Solomonic advice:

I suggest keeping them around, marking them up with your thoughts, and then making the donation to a lovely Christian bookstore. I’m sure a youngster somewhere will be pleasantly surprised.

Of course, there’s always the option of following these bits of Richard’s interesting advice about how to convince oneself to get over the aversion to letting go of books:

Liberation! The moment I did it I felt so much better, like having a great big and long overdue crap. I went through my morbidly obese home library and I kept the classics, the valuable collector’s items, the still-current reference books and a couple of childhood memory indulgences. I gave the novels I’d finished to friends, donated appropriate ones that I would not need again to the library book sale, and having some empty space on my shelves, realized that those books I had kept were smiling back at me with their genuine value. My collection was more of a treasure, not less, because they were selected and kept for the value of their content, instead of stored mindlessly simply because they were books.

Thomas, If you find those old children’s religious books to be so vile that you shudder at the prospect of children finding and reading them, then let them be “born again” as paper bags and ceiling insulation. Save some trees. Unless you can find some kind of museum or institution that is dedicated to the scholarly study of religious schlock where they can be safely locked up, then help kids be safer by eliminating hazards like unexploded ordnance, bottles of caustic chemicals and to use your own word, “poisonous” religious junk literature.

Thousands of new, first edition books are printed each day, and thousands of books go out of print each day. Regardless of their subject, most of them are tripe. They were not worth printing in the first place, they are not worth reading now, and they will not be worth keeping to catch dust on shelves or in attics. Keep or share the few good ones, and toss the dross. They’re yours. You have the right to dump your books, just not somebody else’s. Don’t worry, somewhere, somebody else will be keeping their copy of the rubbish you cast off, but that’s their problem.

If you can’t bring yourself to destroy it, then somewhere along the way you have switched from assessing its value by its content to assessing its value by its physical form.

Get rid of clutter, claptrap and crap. Be free!

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://atheistsandchristians.com Mike aka MonolithTMA

    Some of my Christian books I will keep, some will be recycled, and some will be donated to the library or given to friends. The ones that will be recycled are the ones that argue that their particular brand of religion is the best.

  • http://amandaxrenee.blogspot.com Amanda

    I actually enjoyed the Left Behind series. Probably because my mind processed them as nothing more than fiction.
    I’m an avid reader, so for me getting rid of books is nearly impossible. But sometimes there are things you just have to let go of. There has to be some christians around her somewhere to pawn them off on, right? That’s what I would do.


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