I would shove as many books as I could under my two arms and then rush back to our room upstairs. The books were how we kept warm during the winter. In the absence of other kind of fuel, we would burn them in the cast-iron stove for heat. I know it sounds like a terrible thing to have done, but we really didn’t have much choice. It was either that or freeze to death. The irony does not escape me, of course – to have spent all those months working on a book and at the same time to have burned hundreds of other books to keep ourselves warm. The curious thing about it was that I never felt any regrets. To be honest, I actually think I enjoyed throwing those books into the flames. Perhaps it released some secret anger in me; perhaps it was a simply recognition of the fact that it did not matter what happened to them. The world they had belong to was finished, and at least now they were being used to some purpose.

Paul Auster – In the Country of Last Things

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