I’ve been tagged again. This one involves this scenario: if your house were burning down (God forbid!) and you could only save one book, which would it be?
Of course, there’s always this proviso these days “aside from the Bible.” But I very likely would grab one of my Bibles which was extremely expensive several years ago and difficult to find: a New Internation Version Pulpit/Lectern Bible, for which there’s a little, not very good picture here. It’s heavy, thick, and got a fantastically beautiful font. It’s also entirely out of print and still in demand. I’d have trouble replacing it.
If I really had to play along, and not grab at least one of my Bibles (why? because the fire would make me insane?), I’d probably grab one of the following: my beautiful edition of Christina Georgina Rossetti’s Complete Poetical Works which formerly belonged to famed New York book collector George Zabriskie, a gold-tooled butterscotch marbled leather with gilded pages; my second edition parts one and two of Sefer ha-Aggadah, printed in Odessa, 1912, before Ravnitsky and Bialik emigrated to Israel; or my first edition (a second is supposed to be out this year) of the Ash Tree Press collection A Pleasing Terror, the annotated ghost stories of Montague Rhodes James, which also commands a high price these days.
But, in the end, I suppose I’d grab the notebook in which is my work for a complete scriptural index and concordance to Charlesworth’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volumes. And a folder in which I keep the handwritten list of errata (24 pages so far, kids, and that’s not even the entire first volume). That’s for all the time involved, as I would never, ever want to go through this kind of project again, being heartily sick of the tedium of it. And if some guy is standing by the door to make sure I can only take one, I’d punch his clock and use him to beat off the flames so I could save the other books listed above, and then some. So there.