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Communications of the ACM

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Credit: Etsy

My mother moved to the retirement home six months after my dad died. She left me the task of clearing out his things. I could hardly blame her. In his later years most of his reading had been electronic. In the first half of his life he'd accumulated so many hardbacks and paperbacks they'd overwhelmed the family home, let alone the flat my parents later moved into. When I was a kid I thought living in a disorderly library was normal. Mind you, I also thought spending a long weekend in a hotel full of shabbily clad or bizarrely costumed adults, bored teens, and precocious kids was how everyone celebrated Easter.

"All that old science fiction," my mother said. "Signed first editions and all. They must be worth a fortune by now."


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