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Taking Stock of My Personal Library

15th August 2005

I now have my personal office library entered into a bibliographic management program (EndNote). My Teaching Assistant started working on it while I was on sabbatical and just finished it. Fortunately, she was one of the summer Admissions workers at Taylor and had a bit of time to work on it during office hours over the summer. I have been wanting to have an up-to-date record of my books for a while, so I am very thankful that it is now finished (of course, the challenge will be making sure to add new books to it!)

The grand total is 1748 books.

I’m not sure how this number compares with other professors of a similar stage in their career (I have been teaching full-time for eight years), but it seems like a lot. My wife says it is far too many (Having an office at work and a professional development fund to buy books with has been very very good for my marriage!), while new students always ask, “Have you read them all?” (to which I reply, “Yes, most of them twice or three times”).

There are a number of books in my library that elicit fond memories — some for sentimental reasons, some because they have been influential, and some because I bought them for a steal! The oldest book in my library (and one of the sentimental ones) is a 1879 copy of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and the Holy War that was my grandfather’s. One of the few books my wife has bought me is B.S. Childs’ Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (OK, I think I may have bought it and let her wrap it up!). I also have a number of books autographed by my former professor, mentor, and friend Dr. Stanley Grenz, whose untimely death earlier this year was a great loss for the community of faith.

In regards to good deals, I first need to thank all the book review editors who have given me the opportunity to review some very expensive books for scholarly journals. Some great deals include my copy of Alfred Rahlfs’ Psalmi Cum Odis which I bought for a mere pittance at a used bookstore in Toronto, as well as a number of books which I purchased from my former professor Peter Ristau (much to the chagrin of his son, Ken Ristau, who eventually followed in his father’s footsteps — too late to get any books, however!).

My best deal — and one that I am still very proud of — is my purchase of a full set of Karl Barth’s magisterial Church Dogmatics in pristine condition. While it is now available for $500 USD in paperback from Amazon.com, I purchased my hardcover set for $200 Cdn from a pastor (which is about $166 for my American readers; ₤92 for my UK readers, and €€135 for my European readers — sorry to rub it in).

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