Alex Massie

Department of Dangerous Books

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Does this sorry tale demonstrate a) the dangers of reading, b) the extraordinary idiocy of local government or c) both? I'd say it was extraordinary except for the fact that nothing local nincompoop politicians do should cause so much as a raised eyebrow these days.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa., July 25 A bookstore owner's obsession with the written word has cost him his Pennsylvania home after local officials deemed his book collection a fire hazard.

Authorities in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., condemned John Puchniak's apartment this year when a routine inspection raised concern the bookstore owner's collection of nearly 3,000 texts could cause a fire, The (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader reported Wednesday.

Puchniak now resides in a local hotel, while attempting to limit the stacks upon stacks of books that decorate his condemned apartment.

But even if he can restore the apartment to acceptable living standards, Puchniak has said he cannot afford to appeal the city to reopen his home.

[Via the invaluable Radley Balko]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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