Free Books

A few weeks ago, I walked into the copy/mail room of the English department at my university and saw a box full of books advertised as “free.”  Of course, I couldn’t resist pawing through them, and even though my backpack was plenty full of textbooks, I ended up hauling seven of them home.  Here they are.

free books 1

Afraid of the Day: A Daughter’s Journey (2003) by Nancy Graham is a memoir of a daughter watching her mother go through depression.  It sounds, well, depressing, but also pretty fascinating.

The Middle of Everything: Memoirs of Motherhood (2005) by Michelle Herman sounds interesting to me because of my interest in motherhood studies academically and my research on women and mothering as “professional.”

Fugitive Spring: A Memoir (1992) by Deborah Digges is about growing up in the Midwest in a large family.  She ends up in California in the 1960s.  That’s enough to catch my attention.

Collections of Nothing (2008) by William Davies King is a memoir about the author’s obsession with collecting.  It seems like a literary-esque version of that train wreck of a television show Hoarders.

Mollie: The Journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford in Nebraska and Colorado Territories 1857-1866 (1959) sounds like a keeper based on the title alone.  I’m thinking Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner meets Willa Cather’s My Antonia and O Pioneers! with a touch of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Just think how disappointed I’m going to be if this isn’t the case.

Reminiscences of My Life: A Black Woman’s Civil War Memoirs (1902) by Susie King Taylor sounds even more exciting than the previous book.  I suspect this will give me a more realistic view of the civil war than Gone with the Wind or Uncle Tom’s Cabin did.  It might also make a nice companion to Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood (2006) by Adrienne Martini looks like it will inform my research interests as well.  Even better, it might inform my life as a mother who constantly uses euphemisms for madness to describe her state of mind!

Now, all of these books are memoirs of some sort, and yes, I’m interested in memoirs and picked those from the box on purpose.  But the fact that the box had so many memoirs in it tells me that a professor in the department likely went through a memoir stage or taught some sort of class on autobiography and found these useful or used them as texts.  Hopefully, offering them for free in the department copy room isn’t a reflection of their worth as readable and enjoyable.

Have you read any of these?  What can I expect?

44 thoughts on “Free Books

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  1. The Subtitle of MOLLIE reminded me of ANGLE OF REPOSE as well! I haven’t read any of them but they all sound really interesting. I love memoirs, too.

    1. It is certainly disturbing. I watched a few episodes on netflix a while back and tried to get my husband to watch with me. He wouldn’t come near the television with a ten-foot pole.

  2. They sound like great titles! People have all kinds of reasons for getting rid of books…let’s hope that this professor was merely decluttering and streamlining! Hope you enjoy the books and will look forward to hearing what you think about them 🙂

  3. Michelle Herman, who wrote The Middle of Everything, teaches at my alma mater (Go Bucks!). I know her a little — she’s a lovely, generous person, and I’m sure her book will be lovely and generous too!

  4. They look like epic reads. I always feel memoirs teach me a lot about myself, they give me new ways of looking at my own life and I usually spend twice as long reading them because I want to absorb every word! Enjoy

  5. Based on your choice of Mollie & like of Willa Cather, Laura Ingalls Wilder etc. I wonder have you read These is my words – The diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901 by Nancy E Turner. It is wonderful as is the follow up Sarah’s Quilt. Also thank you for the introduction to Persephone Books some time ago. I have admired them since & sent one as a gift. Now I suspect my own very first one is under the Christmas tree:-)

    1. I have read These Is My Words. Such a gripping tale! And I love that I introduced you to Persephone Books and that you might be getting one soon. Yippee! Be sure to tell me which title when you open it. 🙂

      1. I love Persephone Books! The first one I read was “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” which is such a charming, endearing read. I saw a woman carrying a Persephone Books shopping bag when I was out in town yesterday: a kindred spirit!

  6. I haven’t read or heard of any of those books but they look very interesting. Yay for free books!

    Have you come across the NPR Books Concierge? I was listening to an NPR podcast on my iPod a few days ago and they mentioned it. It made my ears prick up because I always enjoy receiving book recommendations, even though I don’t have much time to read for pleasure at the moment — academic books are at the top of my list right now. It is a great site and you can select and combine categories. Here is the link:

    I think you will like it. 🙂

  7. I also suspect that these books came from the same professor, and possibly the same course! Perhaps she just bought extras to have on hand in case students forgot their copies?

    I remember once finding a free books box in the Anthropology Department building. I must have made off with a dozen haha

  8. I was just talking to my husband about the “free” books I would rescue from the trash heap during my university days. I truly wish that I had unlimited space to “save” more of them or share them with others. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I do this all the time! I’m not even an English student, but I’m always going through the English department to rifle through their free books table :p I may have a problem, but I’m glad it isn’t just me!

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