A Post About Books, Inspired by Guilt

19 Sep

I really have nothing medieval to say but I’m feeling very bad about not having posted anything historical in about a month.

There is a reason for this. Work’s been busy and this coming week is the penultimate one for this group I’ve been working with for the past year. It’s also the last week, but penultimate is such a cool word. Purdue also has this fun little tradition where every September 15 we’re required to report on everything we’ve done for the entire year. Of course one could keep track and input information over the previous 51 weeks but who’d want to give up the panicked adrenaline rush?

But all of this is not why I haven’t posted. The real reason is I’ve done very little Medieval reading. And while work’s been busy, there’s still been some time available. I’ve just been doing other things, which I’ll explain with a true story.

A couple of weeks ago I received an offer from an academic book publisher offering a substantial discount on some books. Those of you who know me or who have been following this blog will be unsurprised to discover that I took advantage of this opportunity. I ordered five books, saving a chunk of change (once you set aside the fact that I could have spent no money and still had plenty on hand to read), and in doing so saved over a hundred bucks on another book I found almost by accident (not the book, the offer).

This all happened while I was in the office busily entering data onto Purdue’s website. I looked through the book sale, found five I didn’t have, ordered them, and went on my way.

A day later, back home, I went to enter the books into my spreadsheet and, well, if anyone is interested in a copy of either Origen and the History of Justification: The Legacy of Origen’s Commentary on the Romans by Thomas P. Scheck or Christianity’s Quiet Success: The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul by Lisa Kaaren Bailey, e-mail me and we can work something out. Haven’t read either of ’em yet or this little problem wouldn’t have happened.

Now, being out $70 for buying books I already have isn’t going to cause me to miss any meals. At the same time, while I like the publishing industry, I’m not keen on making this a habit. It’s one thing to see something in a used bookstore for five bucks, wonder whether I already have it and decide to buy it. That’s only five dollars, not fifty. So I’ve spent the bulk of my spare time the last couple of weeks re-cataloging my entire collection, books in my possession as well as my wishlist, to prevent a recurrence.

While I was at it, I decided this would be the time to figure out just what sources I already have. I have a ton of these on my wishlist but haven’t cataloged (this spelling of “cataloged” just looks wrong but my dictionary likes it), for example, all of the individual sources contained in the 14 volumes of my Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series collection. No point in buying Saint Augustine: The Teacher, the Free Choice of the Will, Grace and Free Will, Russell, trans., from the Fathers of the Church series when I already have it in another form – I haven’t reached the point where I feel the need to have a specific edition of a source.

This is taking some time. I was pretty sure it would which was why I was waiting for a blizzard or something before I set to it. I think it’s gone beyond being a task or a chore and is a full-blown project. I’m at about the halfway point which means that it may be another week or two before I get back to posting substance. The plus side, from a blogging perspective, is that I have the outlines for several posts I’d like to put up. In any case, I apologize for not posting much lately and even more for the boring post – hopefully you’re reading this just before going to bed.


Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Books


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8 responses to “A Post About Books, Inspired by Guilt

  1. Ken

    September 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Hi Curt, If you have a Mac, and I'm not advocating that you "need" to use one, you can use a product called Bookpedia. It's not free, but at around $18.00 bucks it's not bad. You of course can organize your book in several different ways, by tag, by collection, etc. It will even track a wishlist and a borrowed list if you want. I think the big thing perhaps for you, is you can export your "library" into several different kinds of web pages, that you then get put on the Net and access them from anywhere. This way you would know what you have.

  2. Curt Emanuel

    September 23, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Thanks Ken. I actually have that on Library Thing. The problem is checking it when I get in a hurry. I think this will happen now. What I'm doing is a sort of self-imposed penance. I needed to get it done anyway but this was a source of inspiration.

  3. Martin Wisse

    October 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    That's what I love about my smartphone: go on the interwebs to librarything when in the secondhand bookstore and see if I haven't already bought whatever I'm contemplating right now…

  4. Curt Emanuel

    October 4, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Yes – that or an I-Pad would have saved me a bit of money over the years. I'm having I-Pad envy right now. I've done a lot of flying and the thought of having one of those instead of my laptop has been invading my brain.

  5. Lucas

    November 12, 2011 at 2:28 am

    I just put "Byzantium in the iconoclast era" into Library Thing to see what would come up. I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised that it found you!

  6. Curt Emanuel

    November 12, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Unfortunately, just on my wishlist. It'll be pretty early on the purchase list once I get back to reading about the East.

  7. Lucas

    November 12, 2011 at 6:03 am

    It's a pretty important book, although I would say Haldon's 'Byzantium in the Seventh Century' stands more as a landmark in the field. If you only have time to read one, 'Seventh Century' is a better bet given its focus on the seventh century as a turning point, and the fact that both books are pretty dense and slow reads, and thus will take quite a while. On the other hand, the first 400 pages of so of 'Iconoclast Era' are loaded in plates and go very quickly. L. Brubaker also has a new book coming out this December called 'Inventing Byzantine Iconoclasm'. I asked her what it is about, and she said that it's a summary of 'Iconoclast Era' for undergrads and laypeople. Although 'Iconoclast Era' was highly enjoyable and incredibly persuasive, the price tag makes me think that I should have just waited from Brubaker's summary.

  8. Curt Emanuel

    November 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks, I have several on the Arab Conquests I have marked too. If you ever want to find out what folks in the West thought of the iconoclasm issue, Thomas Noble has "Images, Iconoclasm and the Carolingians." I haven't read it – it's sitting with all the other books on the Carolingians I haven't gotten to yet. Won't get there for a while either; I'm going after the early Church next.


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