I was asked about how many books to bring recently, and I knew I had responded to somebody’s question about books to buy, but I could never find it. It was hidden in the comments of one of my summaries of Bultmann–it turns out that the search function of wordpress only works for posts and not comments. Anyhow, these are the ones I came up with. Any responses?

Buying Books
My criteria for buying books are these: 1) Is it something that I will need to write about (so the need to mark it up). 2) Is it something that I’ll read at least twice if not multiple times? 3) Is it worth the cost and hassel of moving it around? 4) Is it a classic? 5) Can I get it cheap? So that means I probably check out more stuff and copy important sections.

Through seminary and after (especially when I was moving), I was very anti-purchasing books if they were easily accessible in the library. But now that I’m here, I’m swinging more towards the middle. Get the core books, but save the money from the others for other things. One other note: Obviously, the electronic versions of large sets (TDNT, etc.) would be the way to go there, especially for reference items that have shorter articles.

Bringing Books Overseas
I shipped 7 boxes over, and I think that I’d bring less over than I did. I brought my Pauline NT commentaries, a few other general NT works (Aland’s synopsis, etc.), several Greek tools (mostly intermediate grammars), and then also a few other general theology and OT stuff.

First off, try to get electronic copies of stuff, but that’s probably obvious. My main criteria are 1) almost all should be in your subject area, 2) only bring books you’ll reference more than once. (so that means directly related to thesis research) 3) Bring what you can’t easily get at your school’s library. 4) Is is worth the expense of shipping both ways? Not only do you have to pay to ship them here (which now more expensive b/c even though M-bags are still here, there are only air and not surface, see here and here), but also to ship them home later. From a friend who just moved back to the states, it’s apparently much more expensive going back. 5) Is it worth the space? Generally, living quarters are smaller here, and space may be an issue. Fortunately, I haven’t hit that issue yet.

I’ve found that commentaries are the major thing that I’ve used more than once, while some others are just collecting dust, at least now. In the end I’d say do your list up and then pare it back by a box or two. Then have that 2nd tier set aside so if family/friends are coming over then you can have them bring volumes from there that you might need later. Then if you don’t need them, you don’t have to worry about them.

If anyone knows the trick to get books back home cheaply, pass along the word.

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