July 07, 2011

So Many Books – Ramona Heikel

Spring and summer bring the huge used book sales, which excite me no end. As a writer, I not only love being surrounded by books, but I also find them full of inspiration and help for my own writing.

Besides, where else can I get so much pleasure for a couple of dollars?

I’ve noticed, though, that as I browse I ask myself, “With so many great works already out there that people are throwing out, why should I pen another one that might end up in the pile?”

Now, if stores were full of brand-new boring, unimaginative, ugly, useless, offensive stories, I’d see that my writing abilities were desperately needed. But this is not the case. There are so many talented writers. The children’s section—the area I’m most interested in—has shelves lined with brightly colored, engaging books that make my eyes pop open and bring a big smile to my face. “What a brilliant idea for a plot! What adorable characters, and such an uplifting message!”

So what to do? Well, I could stay away from the stores and the sales, and spend that big chunk of time writing! Sounds sensible, but no way. That’s too drastic a solution. Okay, let me think this through a bit.

I’m making an assumption that the donated books are not valuable, yet look at all the many, many (way too many) gems I’ve snatched up and cherished. One of my treasures from this summer is Children’s Stories and How to Tell Them, published in 1917 by The Home Correspondence School of Springfield, Massachusetts. Besides being lovely and practical, it is fun to think that even then there were writing classes by correspondence, which is what I am taking right now. At the sales I also try to limit myself to items I wouldn’t easily be able to find at a library or store. Pillow Problems and A Tangled Tale: The Mathematical Recreations of Lewis Carroll is one that meets that criterion.
And yes, the brilliant writers today seem to have the literary needs covered. But I’m sure glad Jane Austen didn’t stop writing when she saw that there were plenty of other excellent authors out there. Maybe one day someone will thank God that I wrote something a bit different, from the unique inspiration of my heart.

So would one of my books end up on the discard heap? Sure, it’s possible. But I believe that I am called to write and am very happily obeying that call. Yet my Boss may want me to compose stories for reasons other than publication. Whether my early reader or middle grade novel is cherished and kept, or ends up in the bottom box on the floor under a table of used books, is up to the Lord.

Posted by Ramona Heikel


  1. Your post hits on a question many of us have asked. with so many other authors out there vying for attention, why even bother? The Answer : There is still room for one more! thanks for the insight into your life.

  2. I found myself smiling and agreeing with many of the points you made. Thanks for sharing.

  3. We are getting to that time in life when we need to discard some of the hundreds of books accumulated over a lifetime. But those books have been a lifeline and carry great worth for us.

    But downsize we must. How do we match those gems to those who will appreciate them? They cover language, theology, politics, text and inspirational books and a range of other issues.

    Sad to say, many will be sold for small change, belying their true value. Some will be given to those who know their true worth and will use them.

    Thanks Glynis for reminding us of the true value of those two dollar books.


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