On Destroying Books by J.C. Squire Summary, Theme , Questions

In this article, I have given the introduction of the writer and the story, summary, theme, and important questions for F.A. students of part II. These questions are very important from the examination point of view. I have used simple language so that students can learn them easily.

 On Destroying Books

by J.S. Squire

Introduction of the writer

The essay " On destroying Books has been written by Sir John Collings Squire. John Collings Squire was born on 2 April 1884 and died on 20 December 1958. He is also known as J.S. Squire. He is a British writer, historian, poet, and critic. He was the Editor of the London Mercury. The London Mercury was the major literary magazine between world wars. He was also the Editor of New statesman, another famous magazine. He was knighted in 1933 for his services.

 The essay " On Destroying Books has been taken from his books in general first series published in 1918.

Main Points

1. Types of books the British people sent to the soldiers.
2. The writer wants to destroy books
3. The method adopted to destroy books
4. His adventure of going out to destroy books into the river.
5. Interesting scenes during his journey.
6. The scene of the policeman and his nervousness.
7. How he mustered up his courage to through the books into the river.


The essay " On destroying books" is a humorous essay in which the writer describes his adventure of destroying books in the river. The writer describes how he destroys his unimportant and unwanted books. He describes that during the first world war two million books were sent to troops as gifts by people. These books were ordinary, suitable, two years old magazines, Guides to the Lake District, and old Whitaker's Almanac. He describes that there are two types of people. One who want to destroy unimportant books and another who do not want to destroy useless books.

According to the writer, it is our moral duty to destroy old and unimportant books. There are two benefits of destroying useless and old books. One benefit is that if we destroy useless books we can make space for new and useful books. The second advantage of destroying useless books it saves time.

In the second paragraph, the writer describes all challenges of destroying books. He describes the difficulties that we face during destroying or burning books. These difficulties brought the writer near his death. He was living in a small flat. He had many useless and unimportant books in his room. These books were in large numbers and he had two options one he destroyed them and second that he left the room. Therefore, the writer decided to get rid of them.

He started thinking that how he can get rid of books. He had a small kitchen and he could not burn them in his kitchen. It was impossible to toast them in a gas cooker and it was impossible to burn them leaf by leaf. The writer decided to through them into the river. He tied them and filled them into the sack and started his venture toward the river.

It was merely midnight. He started his dangerous journey to destroy books at midnight. On the way, he passed a policeman. The writer thought that maybe the policeman suspected that he had swag in his sack. However, the writer was not seriously upset but the policeman did not notice him and he passed away. The writer continued his journey and reached the embankment.

When the writer reached the river. He leaned against the parapet and looked into the river. Suddenly, he heard a step near him and he return back. It was a pedestrian and he passed away without noticing him. When again he prepared to through the books into the river.


This is a funny essay in which the writer criticizes the people who save useless books in a funny way. The writer says saving useless books is not correct. According to the writer, there are many benefits of destroying useless books. The writer lived in a small flat. He has many useless books and he wants to get rid of them. He throws them into the river. The writer faces difficulties while throwing them. The main theme of the essay is that we must not harbor fear in our minds but work with courage and bravery.

Important questions

Q1. What was published in the newspapers?

It was published in the newspapers that over two million volumes had been presented to the troops by the public.

Q2. What sort of books were presented to the troops?

The British public sent the oddest books such as twenty years old magazines, guides to the Lake District, and back numbers of Whitaker's Almanac.

Q3. Why did the public send such books?

The public did so because they wanted to get rid of these books. They were not concerned whether these books were of interest to troops or not.

Q4. Why do non-bookish people accumulate books?

They do so to show that they have a literary taste.

Q5. Why should bad books be destroyed?

In order to make more room for new books and save one's heirs the trouble of sorting out the rubbish, bad and worthless books should be destroyed.

Q6. Why is it difficult to destroy books?

It is not always easy to destroy books because they die hard, and it some times difficult to find a scaffold for them.

Q7. What was the writer's problem with the books?

He lived in a small and heaven-kissing flat where books of inferior poetry were accumulated in such a great number that he was faced with the alternative of either exciting the books or taking rooms elsewhere for himself.

Q8. Why could the writer not burn the unwanted books?

The writer had no kitchen range, and he could not burn them leaf by leaf in his small study five besides it was almost impossible to burn a book without opening it.

Q9. How did he decide to get rid of useless books?

The writer decided to stuff the books into a sack, tie them up and consign them to the river.

Q10. How did the writer start his adventure?

He put the sack of books over his shoulder and stepped into the street at about midnight.

Q11. Describe the midnight scene.

The sky was full of stars and there was a cold nip in the air. The greenish-yellow lamps were throwing long gleams across the smooth hard road. Few people were about and the road was presented a deserted scene.

Q12. What did the writer feel when he came across a policeman o the road?

He felt slightly disturbed as he was confident that he could bear the investigation.

Q13. What did he feel he heard a step near him while he was leaning against the parapet?

The writer felt extremely frightened ad sprang back from the wall of the bridge.

Q14. Who was the passer-by?

He was a tramp who was lost in his own thoughts.

Q15. What terrible thought came into the writer's mind when he heard another measured step behind him?

he thought about the noise of splash which would make anyone rush at him and seize him and he would be accused of throwing an illegitimate baby into the river.

Q16. What difficulty would the writer face before the police?

The police would not believe that he had come out in cold and come down alone to the river to get rid of a pack of poetry.

Q17. How did the writer muster up the courage, at last, to fling the sack into the river?

He continued straying up and down hesitantly and irresolutely for a long time, but finally mustered up courage by criticizing himself savagely for showing cowardice, and with the courage of despair the took a heave and flung the sack in the river.

Q18. Did he come to have a feeling for those books once he had gotten rid of them?

Yes, he felt a little sad about all those books lying forlorn and forgotten on the bottom in a living death.

Q 19. What kind of essay " On Destroying Books" is?

It is interesting, humorous, and full of suspense.

Q20. Who is the author of " On Destroying Book"?

On Destroying Books is an interesting story and the writer of this story is J.C, Squire.

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