Every so often, we need to comb through our shelves and remove books that are in bad shape. You know the ones: split bindings, torn or shaky pages, wavy water-damaged covers. The Library tries to replace books in morbid condition, but some-to-many are out-of-print. Unfortunately, some of these rough-and-tumble books are gems within the tattered exterior. For example, I discovered a paperback, Strangeness: a collection of curious tales, and decided to give it one last look. The short stories within are unified by the theme that true beauty has an element of strangeness, and that the truly strange is beautiful.
What's extraordinary about this collection, tucked among the science fiction with a faded garish cover, is that it groups such unlikely bookmates as Italo Calvino and Virginia Woolf, Graham Greene and Philip José Farmer, Brian Aldiss and Shirley Jackson. While we probably have many of these stories interspersed throughout the library, Strangeness is a unique, thoughtful collection, a gateway book for science fiction readers to try out "regular" fiction, and vice versa.
So like a favorite shirt with frayed cuffs, or a jacket with a button missing, I'll see if we can hold on to this one for just a little longer. Perhaps wait until the binding is a complete mess or the pages disintegrate into dust. I'll also be embarking on another tome slated for the chopping block, The Arbor House treasury of great science fiction short novels. We'll see if that one is worth holding onto as well.