Bucket-worthy books


I did the drill twice last year and had hoped to avoid going through it yet again this hurricane season. But when making final plans for the anticipated arrival of a hurricane, one of my necessary tasks is to store some of my books in plastic containers. That is what I did today in anticipation of Hurricane Wilma.

It is an agonizing experience. Like most bibliophiles I have more books than container space. How do you decide which books are “bucket-worthy?” I felt like I was back in the 5th grade enduring the “values clarification” drill of deciding which of the seven people are not allowed on the five person lifeboat. Who goes into the plastic container and who stays on the unprotected shelf?

Some choices were easy to make. Dave Hunt, What Love is This? and Laurence Vance, The Other Side of Calvinism–stay on the shelf; Robert Schuller–lower shelf; Geisler, Chosen But Free–shelf; Boyd–God of the Possible–shelf. Those, and others like them, were gimmes, no-brainers.

Others were not so cut-and-dried. Arminius’ Works? Well, they regrettably didn’t make the cut. I had the same feeling about Chafer’s multi-volume Systemtatic Theology. But I could hardly justify space in a container for these kinds of books when many of my very favorite theological books had to remain on the shelf.

I had to leave Charles Hodge, A.A. Hodge, Berkhof and Strong shelved. Calvin, Boyce, Dagg and Grudem got their special places in a container, however.

I only had room for a few hundred books so many of the ones left behind (which reminds me, Tim LaHaye did not make the cut) found themselves in that position through no real fault of their own. Many of my Spurgeon volumes fall into that category. They can be replaced and I haved duplicates on CD, but it still feels like I abandoned a close friend and mentor by leaving him in my study.

Andrew Fuller’s Works found space in a bucket–not because they are irreplaceable (although some of my early editions of his works would be harder to replace) but because my blood, sweat and tears mark their pages. Ditto John Gill’s Body of Divinity.

Many of my Puritan buddies are left unprotected. They are made of hardy stock, though, and so I am sure will bear up as well as any. I did bucket Edwards, but left Flavel, Baxter, Brooks, Boston, Sibbes, Witsius, et al.

Dozens of Lloyd-Jones volumes found their way into containers along with Iain Murray’s 2 volume biography of the Doctor. Not many books by living authors made it, not because there were none bucket-worthy but mostly due to the prospect that they would be easier to replace than others. There were exceptions, of course, but I hesitate to get too specific in identifying them because even some books by good friends had to remain on the shelf.

All-in-all it was a painful experience. No matter how I rationalized it in my mind I vacillated between feeling like a traitor and a botttom-line pragmatist (“How much would it cost me to replace this?”).

Under God I owe much to my books. Through them I have been challenged, corrected, strengthened, rebuked, humbled, instructed and encouraged in my Christian life. The thought of losing any of them to wind or rain or storm surge saddens me. If God in His mercy and wisdom spares me that loss, I will once again be very grateful. If in His mercy and wisdom He does not, perhaps I will at least have those who are riding out the storm in buckets to help me in its aftermath.

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9 Responses to “Bucket-worthy books”

  1. Not too long ago a move made it necessary to box up many of my precious books for storage. Many of them got special “air tight” treatment while others were left to the mercies of the elements in cardboard. I can identify with your dilemma. When we got our stuff out of storage we discovered some water damage. I was a wreck until we uncovered the book boxes and I made certain they were alright. I do not envy you your task now.

  2. It’s too bad Hunt’s book isnt as large as a piece of plywood, otherwise you could use it to board-up your windows. It seems only right that his book should not make “the container”, nor have a spot on the unprotected shelf, but should be forced to take the full brunt of the storm – nailed to the westward-exterior of the building!

    On a serious note: Why not at least buy a few boxes of hefty bags and double wrap your remaining books in plastic? Just a thought.

  3. I think I have to find a waterproof container in which to hold my books. A safe-like container, impervious to hurricanes, fire, earthquakes, humidity.

  4. In among my great books on theology would be a nice stack of Calvin and Hobbes cartoon books if I to box them up. I have some friends on *vacation* in Orlando at the moment. It’ll be interesting to see if they make it back to Minnesota on time (supposed to fly back Tuesday). As for “God of the Possible” I might intentionally leave that one on the front lawn.

    Big Chris
    Because I said so blog

  5. I suppose if you’re going to live in Florida over the long term, perhaps you need an enclosed plastic bookshelf. So all you do when a hurricane approaches is to close the door.

  6. Maybe you should have saved some stuff from Hunt, Geisler, and Arminius. It would have made a great example of unconditional election.

  7. There is a lot of fun being poked @ Hunt on here which I suppose is deserved.

    Geislers “Chosen but Free” however, isn’t in the same (lower) class as Hunt’s work.

    It’s the best work on the subject from a non-5 pointer. Just thought I should give it a bit of a defense

  8. I faced a similar situation when Rita was heading my way. I could only take one back back of books with me and had to leave the others behind. When I left, I didn’t know Rita was going to hit Beaumont, so I just left all the other books on their shelves facing the windows. Man, I was sick for the whole evacuation thinking those windows were going to bust and Rita was going to scatter my books all over the county. Praise God, the windows did not bust and all books were safe.


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