I woke up this morning to my brother burning books. Books for college. Textbooks. When I realized what he was up to, all I said was, “Shit, I’ve got some more like this, let me get ’em.”
Five years of my life were spent nestled in the warm embrace of a college education, where an undying love of learning was instilled in me. My brother started attending college three years ago and continues dedicating his life to it to this day. So why burn books from that time?
Because spending $250 on a textbook I never used for any classes and can’t sell back or give to someone else because a new edition is out is a waste. A waste of paper, a waste of effort and a waste of money. “Student Solutions Manual: Beginning & Intermediate Algebra: Fourth Edition” sat untouched on my bookshelf for five years. Some of my brother’s algebra textbooks had done the same in his bedroom for less time, but wasting just as much space.
So, my brother decided to burn his worthless algebra textbooks in our family fire pit, which was much more tedious than one might expect. A full textbook won’t burn like kindling; the pages must be ripped out, crumpled no more than three at a time and strewn about to circulate the oxygen for the fire. Even then, the high-quality paper didn’t burn very well. In the end, we decided to recycle over half of it.
Watching those beautifully cut pages with their crisply printed typography and colorful pictures saddened me. I remarked to my brother about what a shame it was to burn this. How someone had spent so much time not just writing each page but editing them and formatting them and making sure everything printed out as beautifully as it did. As a journalism major, I was intimately familiar with the effort that went into the creation of the very materials we were destroying.
Book burning is usually a terrible act of intolerance violently assaulting education and progress. But this morning, it was a great way to let off some steam, bond with my family, and finally get some use out of our fire pit.