Posted in Books

Top Ten Tuesday—Books I’d save from a fire

Happy 70th birthday to Pete Townshend!

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly feature of The Broke and the Bookish. A full list of instructions and future themes can be found here. This week is a freebie, and I’m choosing books I’d save if, chas v’shalom (heaven forbid), my home were on fire. I’ve had pyrophobia my entire life, so this isn’t something I take lightly!

1. The Rand McNally atlas my late uncle gave me. That year, all the girls in first grade wanted the talking doll Cricket for Christmas and Chanukah, but my parents didn’t have that kind of money. Two years prior, my father had spent over $2,000 on our first computer, the 152K Mac, but some doll wasn’t nearly that kind of worthwhile, long-lasting investment. One of the presents I did get was that atlas from my uncle. I still use it all the time, as outdated as it is. Names and borders may change, but it’s the same Planet Earth at heart. The inscription makes it particularly precious to me.

2. The Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English translation of The Tao Te Ching. I discovered this among my parents’ shelves in January ’96 and fell in love. This book means so much to me, particularly after it was the only book I had with me during the ten months we were back in Pennsylvania my junior year of high school. Almost all of our belongings were in boxes in my maternal grandparents’ house while they were away in Florida.

3. Bringing Heaven Down to Earth, compiled by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman. This book of daily meditations and thoughts is so precious to me because it was a graduation present from one of my university rabbis. I’d only begun going to Chabad a few months prior, and already he was as warm and welcoming to me as the people who’d been going there much longer. I can always get a new copy of the book, but I can’t replace Rabbi Adelman’s inscription. (I never learnt Hebrew cursive, but I know that’s my Hebrew name, Chana Esther Dafna.)


4. The 1910 French dictionary I got from my father. I’m at least the fourth owner of this falling-apart thing, and it doubtless isn’t worth anything anymore, but it’s really special to me. I love how the intro says it’s been updated to include words related to motoring, aviation, and bicycling. It also has some really nice appendices, like French versions of names from history and mythology.


5. Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor. My copy of the famous historical romance is particularly special because it’s a 1944 printing, with the text on two columns on thin pages. I assume this was done because of wartime paper shortages, and it’s a super-long book.

6 and 7. World War II Chronicle and The Holocaust ChronicleThese are my most-consulted books of the five day-by-day volumes I constantly use when researching my books set during this era. Really heavy, but packed full of information. I found both on the discount racks at the local indie bookstore.


8. Webster’s Pocket Pal Dictionary. This was a gift from my sixth grade teacher for the winter holidays. She inscribed the front. Not the most exhaustive dictionary in the world, but a nice reminder of one of my teachers.

9. Kenneth Katzner’s Russian–English dictionary. I’ve used this so much since I bought it in 2000. It’s not my first Russian dictionary, which is now out of print, but this is a very good runner-up. I’d be nowhere without this book!

10. Sydney Omarr’s Sagittarius volume for 1994. Mock me if you want, but this was bought for me by my grandparents in summer ’93, and the book which really introduced me to astrology. Some sections are long out of date, but there are still lots of chapters which haven’t aged, like the charts to find the ruler of each planet, and the descriptions of those placements. My belief in astrology hurts absolutely no one, unlike alt-med quackery such as taking an infant to a chiroquacktor or trying to cure cancer with baking soda and iodine. I wish more skeptics weren’t so quick to dismiss and mock astrology, particularly considering it’s a lot more complex than those stupid newspaper horoscopes.


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

15 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday—Books I’d save from a fire

  1. Aww, this post made me think of an old, falling apart dictionary that my family used to have for years and years that I think I got rid of in a fit of “we can’t even pick up this book without it falling apart, why do we still HAVE it?” coldness that I’m now kinda regretting! I miss that torn, red, holding-on-by-a-thread old thing. (Though I wouldn’t necessarily save it from a fire. Still! It’s nice to have old books that mean something to the family, rather than just favorite books that can be replaced without losing the sentimentality behind them.) Great topic for the TTT!


  2. Fantastic list Carrie! It sounds like you’ve got some wonderful books that are very close to your heart. 🙂


  3. I’ve always owned atlases of some sort and still have several. My U.S. Rand McNally that I currently own I’ve had for several years now and it goes with us on every trip. Sometimes I just like to get it out and look at it for researching where places are in relation to others or planning out future trips.

    Maps are great.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Road trippin’ with A to Z
    Tossing It Out


  4. My dad has a good collection of antique books, but only a few are here in my house, including several volumes of the works of Edgar Allen Poe published in 1903. I’d hate to lose those.


  5. Hah! Fun theme for a list 🙂 I sometimes have dreams (anxiety dreams, probably) where I have to pack up quickly because of some natural disaster. There are some books that keep showing up in them that I would definitely save 🙂


  6. I LOVE this topic! Such a great idea and totally got me thinking about which books I would save from a fire. I would totally go for the Harry Potter books first, and then I have a few that I have gotten signed, like Nought’s and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, that one is special so I would have to save that one too. Burning books would be extremely sad though, would take me a while to get over that! Happy Reading! 🙂


  7. Great list! I know you probably struggled to write this list, but I really appreciate you sharing your special books with us. I made my list on “Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far in 2015.” Here’s my TTT. Happy reading!


  8. Wow, these are absolutely amazing! I cannot even believe how amazing and priceless these books are- I don’t blame you for wanting to rescue them. Thanks for sharing them, especially the pictures, they’re just gorgeous! (And a sidenote- I have always, always been terribly afraid of a house fire, for as long as I can remember. It’s absolutely one the scariest things to think about!)


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