The fate of Peter’s books

In an entry from late 2007, Dobe asked what happened to Peter’s books. I was going to finally post a comment on that entry to supply some answers just now, when I realized that I might as well make it a full entry instead of a comment.

So here goes:

Peter had a lot of books at the end. Most of them were smoke-damaged.

I went through the whole house during that first week after his death and took all the books that I was interested in: books I remembered from childhood, books I thought Peter had particularly liked, books that looked like they might be rare, anything else that seemed worth taking. Carted them all off to Jordan and Crystal’s garage.

I left the vast majority of his books in the house—at least two-thirds of them, probably quite a bit more. I think I made some estimates at the time about how many books there were in the house, and how many I was taking, but I don’t remember the numbers. I was sad to leave so many behind, but I didn’t want them, nobody else in the family expressed any interest in them, and they were smoke-damaged so I didn’t think they could be sold or given away. And I was pretty overwhelmed in general.

I assume that when the bank (?) came and cleaned out everything in the house prior to starting restoration work, that they took the books as well. I would have expected them to end up in a Dumpster, unfortunately. But I vaguely recall Jay saying that the bank had put all the stuff from the house in storage at some point; I’m not sure what ended up happening there.

A while later, I came back up to Tacoma and, over the course of a couple of days at Jordan and Crystal’s place, I filled several large cardboard boxes with the books I had taken from the house. Then I mailed the boxes home to myself.

Later, at home, I sorted through them again, and decided to keep only about a third of the ones I had brought home.

All of the ones I brought home are currently in boxes in my garage; my new place doesn’t yet have enough bookcases for the ones I’m keeping, and I haven’t figured out what to do with the rest. I’ll probably ask the local library if they’ll take books with smoke-damaged covers for their book sale. I suspect they’ll say no, and I doubt the local used-book store will take them, which probably means throwing them out. Which I don’t want to do, which is why I’ve been putting off dealing with it for so long.

There’s one small category of books that weren’t smoke-damaged: he had a bookcase full of science fiction paperbacks, and a fair number of those were wrapped in protective plastic bags. This was especially true for a bunch of the Philip K. Dick paperbacks. So there are several early-edition PKD paperbacks in very good condition mixed in with the rest of the books.

I’ve tried to clean the soot off of the covers of a few of the ones I’m keeping, but it was a slow process, and I didn’t do very many of them, and wasn’t very successful with the ones I did work on.

More answers to Dobe’s questions to follow in other entries and/or comments in coming days/weeks.

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