Monday, 19 May 2014

Books 30 years on


I am unsure as to how many actual books (hardcopies) I have in my personal library. I have never counted them, much less got some sort of catalogue up and running. Probably somewhere round a thousand, mostly Christian (and mostly reformed) but a fair sprinkling of secular books. I like reading history, particularly my favourite period in British History i.e. from Henry VIII right through to the Battle of Culloden in 1745. This period covers from the impact of the Protestant Reformation right through to the final squashing of resistence to the Williamite Settlement when Bonnie Prince Charlie came, saw and failed to conquer. Some folk liketo portray the Battle of Culloden as a rerun of the Battle of Bannockburn (i.e. Scotland vs England). In actual fact, it was a rerun of the Battle of the Boyne, 50 years earlier (i.e. House of Orange versus the Stuarts) And we won that battle again ;o) But I digress.

This past week has seen another purging of my shelves. You must every now and again unless you live in a mansion. I have purged books several times before, but a relatively new factor came into play this time. 

Upto around 10-20 years ago, your access to information came largely through a hard copy of an accessible book. Mostly one that sat on your shelf, or the shelf of a friend. There was, of course, the Evangelical Library in London, but this involved the yearly expense of membership and postage (both ways) and then waiting several days on books coming in the mail that might or might not help you. I usually wanted something there and then. 

Then things changed. We all paid an absolute fortune and got computers and soon we had access to stuff first of all on floppy disks with their 1.44Mb limit and then CD's and eventually DVD's - all packed full of data with search engines that would take loads of shelf space. Several years ago, I bought this at 60% off and use it regularly. (I see it claims to contain over 1,000 books) Soon, the newer computers were giving us loads more memory, so that we didn't even have the bother of slipping CD's in and out, but could copy them direct on to the hard disk. We could cut and paste to our heart's content. 

Things have got even better. You don't even have to buy the DVD's any more. Many key books are available online. There is a veritable goldmine of Reformed material here at Mongerism, including entire systematic theologies. All of Calvin's commentaries are available online here. (BTW: I now have the whole of Calvin's commentaries on my mobile phone, along with the entire commentaries of Henry, Poole, Gill, JFB and Adam Clarke. I still have 25% of my 2GB memory left as well.) All of HA Ironside is available here. And finally, something as basic as Google is here. I really believe we have got to the point that if you think it could be online, then it there is a pretty good chance that it is. (I hesitate to use the word "dated" but I do tend to go for stuff that has been a round for a while. If you want modern stuff, then the author might still be looking paid for his services. And yet, even some of this is free. I have a whole load of free RC Sproul stuff on my Kindle. 

So when I come to purge my bookshelves last week, I bore that in mind. Four hardback of John Owen are in the box for my next visit to John Gowan. (I have posted about John Gowan before) I have these Owen books on my hard drive through my possesion of the Ages DVD (linked above) plus they are online here. Several other books that would have been unthinkable of selling on a few years ago are in the box. They are either online or similar is available. There are now gaps in my shelves again, although I'll probably still pick up the bargains here and there. 

Books are for pleasure reading and not just research. There are books available online or in my DVD collection that escaped the purge. Some have special memories for me. Some bear the names of departed saints whose widow passed them on. I had no financial reasons to sell  any of my books. Space was a problem, but that was solved. I intend to keep on top of the space problem a bit more. Instead of purging every few years, I could purge every 12 months or whenever.  #GoodIntentions 

Better run on. I've to get the links to the above sorted out for you, work on a message for the Lord's Day coming and then tonight, after dinner, head to Dublin for a few days evangelism. #Busy...


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