The books I’d most want to save are actually in my office at Merton. The only thing I own that is remotely close to being a unique copy is my copy of Lynette Roberts’s Collected Poems, ed. John Pikoulis (Bridgend: Seren, 1998), a book that the publisher withdrew and pulped before publication, but not before six or so copies had been accidentally released to the Oxford Blackwells.
But even that edition circulated in photocopied form, and since Patrick McGuinness’s edition came out (Manchester: Carcanet, 2005), its loss has been less keenly felt.
The other category of book I’d want to save is those with annotations. A heavily annotated text can represent years of work, and though half the value lies in having the insight that led to the annotation, and the act of annotation is really just a means of physically sealing that insight, I’d still be sorry to lose certain books. The trouble would be, which ones should I select?
Finally, there are books with personal connections. Here, I’d probably be inclined to save my grandmother’s Bible, presented to her at the Christadelphian Sunday School in Ashton-under-Lyne for attendance and scripture work, 1915-16. I’m not sure of her date of birth, but I think she must have been about 8 years old; she died long before I was born. The millenarianism didn’t get passed down through the family, but the book did.