Give Me All Your Books to Spare!

My friends often ask what they should do when they cull their Pagan bookshelves, and I almost always say “Give them to me!”

I’m not just being greedy, I swear! I do try to keep an extensive multicultural interfaith library both for my own studies and to lend to the community, and I give out duplicates to new folks regularly.

But most of my duplicate copies of books go to inmates, because 90% of what I do for jail ministry is figure out what kind of books will help them progress in their spiritual efforts while they’re stuck waiting for the next step of the judicial process. They are trapped, often confused, and always bored to tears. Giving them books helps everyone because it helps them continue to learn, and it helps them keep it together so that they don’t act out just because they’re restless.

I ALWAYS need more copies of Eddas and Sagas, decent (grounded in at least the actual rune poems, not racist) rune studies books. Books for solitaries in any kind of Pagan practice are helpful, especially if they’re actually geared towards practicing from inside a jail or prison. Introductory books to any Pagan path, but especially Heathenry and Wicca are always useful. Books about how to deal with spirits talking to you and basic spiritual skills are often useful. Books about the gods and/or basic myths for any given pantheon are often useful.

They love books of spells, but those are less useful because they rarely can have the components, and usually don’t have the education or insight required to understand how a book of traditional spells represents folklore research, and the ones who are far enough along their paths to appreciate that usually want something else anyway.

Spare books for other religions are still useful – I can hand them to the regular chaplains for them to give other inmates as appropriate. You might be surprised how often I actually recommend one of the Pagan inmates ask another religious group for literature, especially on things like Buddhist meditation, or Catholic spiritual exercises.

So yes, PLEASE, give me your spare religious books that don’t suck! They go to a good cause, I promise!


About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
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18 Responses to Give Me All Your Books to Spare!

  1. Hi, Ember – I have a few books that might suit your purposes. How can I get them to you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • EmberVoices says:

      Hey Anastasia,

      That’s wonderful, thank you!

      In your case, the fastest way is probably to get them to Sally Rose so Andrew can bring them to my place next time we game.

      Or we could try to get together for coffee sometime. πŸ˜€



      • HI, Ember – The two of us meeting for coffee might be faster. Sally Rose and I have been trying to schedule a get-together for an embarrassingly long time! I’ll email her and Andrew and let them know it’s okay for them to give you my email address (for some reason, I am disinclined to share it here in public!). Thanks!


        Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just a note to say how delighted I was to discover your inspirational website today. I am a retired pastor from a Christian denomination that does not appreciate the wonderful paths followed by Pagans. I have become attracted to Paganism and want to learn all that I can about all the varieties of Paganism that exist. Your website is a new revelation for me, and I am excited about it. How wonderful! Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. underapaganmoon says:

    If your library sells the books that they’ve withdrawn from the collection and are no longer checking out to people, you should totally go and take a look at their used book store if you haven’t already πŸ™‚ The library I work for has one called Title Wave


  4. Ember, I upgraded my Kindle at this year’s Prime Day (somehow, that wasn’t a holiday but ended up one anyway) and I have a perfectly good Kindle Fire of recent vintage that could find another home. I have only one requirement – it has to be purged of everything on it, and the best way is to replace the current profile with a new one. IE, whoever this is for needs an Amazon account, and let me set it up before sending it off. Also, any luck at Gutenberg Project? I can only imagine the bias if they did come across anything, but there’s another avenue if someone can use the Kindle.


    • EmberVoices says:

      People in jail need print books, or printouts. I do provide the regular chaplains with appropriate links as well as books to keep and make copies out of, but the budget for printing is naturally quite limited.

      I also do teach long-distance students, some of whom are isolated and can’t keep a library with them. They do benefit from digital books. To that end, yes, I’ve had luck with, and Project Gutenberg, although the latter is so general as to be somewhat challenging unless they already know exactly what they’re after.

      While I’m sure I know someone who could use a good working Kindle, I suspect the best way to deal with flushing the existing content is to simply re-set it to factory settings, which will erase all content on it: That way neither you, nor the prospective recipient is asked to share their account information with another person.



      • Donna Hutt Stapfer Bell says:

        Will give this a go – I fear I’m still a little scorched from the last time I handed off tech without leaving it in the state I was comfortable with, so bear with me. Will let you know findings – but I’m fairly certain I can hand this off to you for rehoming!


  5. Pingback: Give Me All Your Books to Spare! | We Bring The Fire

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