Books saved for retirement may meet with downsizing

Duane Dailey

I love books. But, they may be the death of me. Those piled up to be read may topple and crush me.

A favorite column Sundays is in The New York Times Book Review section. In that weekly, a famous person is interviewed about their readings. One question: What’s on your nightstand? Those are books being read, or to be read. I keep a notebook to remind of books out there still to be bought.

I have slowed book buying. For a while, I justified buying one more with, “I will read this in retirement.”

Some friends think I will never retire. That may be true, as I’ve retired three times. None stuck.

A worrisome part is that I don’t read as fast as I did. In early learning days, I tallied at least one book a week. That was not in student days with required reading. Those were days, filled with work and travel.

Now, I’m not sure of my excuse for slow reading. But, buying with caution, books seem to cling to me like iron filings to a magnet.

So, I’m downsizing. I take books to resale stores that accept donations. That’s where I buy many books.

Library sales were always providing another sack of books at bargain prices.

My collection won’t be a valued inheritance. A daughter has warned: “They’ll go in a dumpster to be placed in the front yard when you’re gone.”

This week the Book Review features Sen. John McCain. On his nightstand is “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson. That’s on my “get” list, as I know biographies by Isaacson are good. I think McCain is an honest politician, so I’ll follow him.

But a new one for me is a book on the Korean War. When asked for best book on the military, the Senator said T.R. Fehrenbach’s “This Kind of War.” It tells, he says, tactical and strategic mistakes by smart people. They had “more confidence than humility and more intelligence than insight.”

That sounds familiar.

On Vietnam, McCain favors “Hell in a Very Small Place” and “Street Without Joy” by Bernard Fall. I’d heard of him, but not these books. Both are must gets. Again, he says they tell of mistakes we should have avoided. But, “We went about making them anyway.”

I like military history. These reviews point me to books to read before retirement.

On that retirement business, I find allies in my continued work. A trip last Friday to the Show-Me-Select Heifer sale at Fruitland, Mo., was like a homecoming. This was the 19th spring sale of fall-calving heifers. Some consignors I’ve known since the first sale, oh such a short time ago.

Some old beef breeders zipped right by accepted retirement times. They keep getting better at timed AI and making money. They learned the value of better genetics. It’s a money-making idea and pretty exciting. Better than sitting in a recliner reading books.

With some, we rehashed heart failures and going on in spite of bad tickers. We are beneficiaries of modern surgeries. Our tickers keep ticking with a little help from pacemakers.

One woman, a consigner from the start, said: “What would we do if retired?” Her cattle were in the top on prices.

Beside top heifers prices, the catalog told that pen mates sent to the feedlot graded 87 percent Certified Angus Beef (CAB) and Prime. Not bad for a commercial herd. That came from research at the MU Thompson Farm,

That story is repeated by other consignors. They follow the MU SMS heifer protocols.

Some point out they learn from my stories. So, why retire if people still read news, instead of books.

But, a nagging question from cooperators. When are you going to write your book? I ponder, how I can read all of these bedside books if I take up book writing. That’s not a recliner job.

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