Which got me thinking.
I would be devastated if any of my thousands of books were to be lost or damaged by fire, flood, foe. They are all mine, they are all loved, all books are created equal...but are there, in the manner of Anumal Farm, some books that are more equal than others? Books whose loss would really REALLY hurt? What are some of the special ones in your own library?
For me... There's the signed copy of Nine Princes in Amber, from the last convention that Roger Zelazny ever went to, and the edition was old enough (and battered enough) that he looked on it with a mixture of astonishment and delight and wanted to know *just how long* I had had this thing. It was like telling someone news of an old friend. I treasure the memory of that smile, and that book is a potent reminder of it. Then there's a book I picked up at random in an old second-hand bookstore tucked away out fo sight back in Cape Town - they had the oddest things, those people. Back in, oh, late eighties (hard to remember exactly now) I tripped over a copy of "Mill on the Floss", and while it isn't one of my favouite books EVAH when I opened it up there on the flyleaf was this, in old-fashioned curly handwriting: "To dearest Deda, from A C Chicken, Xmas 1905" One thing was an instant heatstring-pull - I was never anyone's "chicken", but "Deda" is what I called my grandfather. For that alone, the book was a must-have. It was in remarkable condition for a book that was even then getting on in years; last year it celebrated its centenary. It's a little thing, a pointless thing, but I treasure that book - for whatever reasons. It got under my skin.
Then there's my copy of the GLobe Illustrated Shakespeare. This is a book which is roughly the size of my torso. It is bound in red leather, and it contains every single word that SHakespeare is known or suspected to have written - THOUSANDS of pages of fine thin Bible paper, gild-edged, the red leather covers adorned with embossed gilt title, the inside adorned with line drawings. I don't actually pick this thing up and read it every night - I am not even a Shakespeare fanatic - but it was a treasure found discarded on a bargain table, and I got it for what must today have been the equivalent of about five bucks. You betcha I snapped it up.
And this isn't even getting into the territory of books that mean something to me now because I know the people who wrote them, because I've laughed with those authors and eaten with them and drank with them and whose books I have known from before they were ever born, sometimes before they were conceived.
Oh, God. Which book would YOU rush to save if the floodwaters were coming in? Me, I'd stand there and weep, and ask to die with my library...