Inspired by @ListPrompts. I will take a different angle and focus on actual, physical copies of books in my possession and what they mean to me. I will also be (uncharacteristically?) vain for a few secs.
  1. This little mass market paperback of ghost stories called STRANGELY ENOUGH!
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    It's the very first book I ever bought with my own money and cost a dime at a flea market in ~1981 in Neenah, Wisconsin. As a person that basically defines himself by the books he surrounds himself with, this is one of my very most important, physical things.
  2. My first copy of the now famous maroon paperback of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, handed to my by my creative writing teacher, Gerald Saindon, in the Winter of 1990. My very first reading of CATCHER will be the topic of another list. It is a book that changed me and continues to change me every time I reread It.
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  3. I was so afraid of losing my maroon CATCHER that I wrote this on the inside cover...
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  4. Here is an almost 100-year-old copy of THE COMPLETE SHAKESPEARE. Leather cover. Gilded edge. Pages with paper so thin, it feels like you are flipping through the gossamer wings of butterflies as you read. The book is a delicacy to touch.
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  5. Plus, it has thumb-tabs for the plays! OMG.
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  6. DIARY OF A DEAD MAN by Chris Kubica, author, age 18. This is a one-of-a-kind, handmade book. I laid it out on a Mac Plus in 1991 using Aldus PageMaker and printed and stapled the entire thing by hand.
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  7. Golly, I really went all out. I wrote pretend marketing copy. Pretend blurbs. Pretend Library of Congress and ISBN numbers.
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    Don't ever read this book. It's awful and self-indulgent...basically THE MARTIAN, but way, way, way less well-written. But, hey, I did write a novella at age 18, so that's saying something.
  8. BONUS: This terrible, awful, no-good, hilarious author photo I put on the back flap! You are welcome, List App readers. Don't ever let anybody say I take myself too seriously!
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  9. KRABAT by Otfried Preußler. It's a superb, touching, scary young adult novel. Way better than Harry Potter. Yep, I said it. But what is special about this is that I illustrated the cover. Yep, I'm a children's book illustrator. And the story of how this book came back into print and the part I played in that tale will warm. Your. Heart (I hope!):
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  10. Plus, look at all those cute lil crows I drew for the back!!
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  11. The first edition hardcover of THE NEVERENDING STORY by Michael Ende. Great novel. Really extraordinary read. Movie is a bucket 'o trash by comparison.
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  12. What's super cool and unique about the original hardcover is that it has alternating green and red text inside. Red for Bastian, green for Atreyu. Gorgeous.
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  13. And the drop-caps at the start of each chapter are jaw-dropping.
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    Yes, I gush about books. So what.
  14. This uncorrected proof of J.D. SALINGER: A WRITING LIFE by Ian Hamilton. This proof copy should no longer exist...Salinger won a landmark Supreme Court case against the publisher, Random House, and the court ordered all copies of this destroyed. But they all were not. And I have one. It is my most valuable book (In $ and in sentimental value).
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    (FYI: The case was about how Ian Hamilton had tried to reprint a bunch of Salinger's private letters in the book and Salinger's case, which affected all future copyright law, was that even though recipients of Salinger's letters owned the letters themselves, Salinger still owned the WORDS (and the copyright) of those letters and they could not be reprinted without his permission.
  15. LETTERS TO J.D. SALINGER by Chris Kubica. Yeah, hello, it's me again. SOoOoOo vain. Anyway, this is the book that made me a "real" author in 2002. And this is the first copy I pulled out of the box when they mailed them to me. That was Salinger's real mailbox (that photo is from a LIFE Magazine article about Salinger published in the late 1960s).
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  16. ...it is also the copy of the book I took with me when The University of Wisconsin Press sent me on a wee book tour throughout the Midwest. I made little diary entries in the blank spaces within the book covering my various stops along the tour...here I am musing on my first visit inside a television studio...
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  17. I have written about CODEX SERAPHINIANUS before. It is simply the best, craziest, inexplicable-est, weirdest art piece I have ever encountered. I first saw a copy at the Milwaukee Art Museum in ~1985. I wrote the details of that book down on a slip of paper which I would then keep in my desk for 20 years as I looked in vain for a used copy.
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    It was only in the last few years that I was finally able to afford this first edition (though it is now back in print, thankfully, and much easier to obtain/buy!)
  18. Here are some of the crazy illustrations you'll find within...
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  19. ...what
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  20. ...are this
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  21. The Norton Facsimile of THE FIRST FOLIO of WIlliam Shakespeare. For $99, it is the closest most of us will ever get to holding an actual copy of a First Folio, which is extraordinarily rare and regularly sells for millions of dollars when one of the few remaining hundred in existence goes up for auction.
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  22. Inside, it is a wonder to behold. It is an exact, photo-static copy of a real FIRST FOLIO. Norton went through every copy of the First Folio owned by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC and made a high-resolution scan/photo of the best version of each and every page.
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  23. And the result is one of the most breathtaking things I have ever laid eyes upon in my life.
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  24. Ah, books.