Somebody sent me a message on Facebook this morning.

Hi, Risto,

I read somewhere that you own a book about Valeri Kharlamov. I’d like to buy it, if you’re willing to sell it. You can name your price…

Hockey greetings,

PS. You are the hockey writer, right?”

Number 17.

Yes, I do have that book. It’s an autobiography that came out in Finnish in 1979, just two years before Kharlamov died in a horrible car accident. It’s also the first hockey book I ever got, it was a Christmas present from my parents and if I say I’ve read it a hundred times, I won’t be exaggerating one bit.

It’s dog-eared, it’s underlined, it’s been photocopied and plagiarized (in my school essays), it’s been with me from breakfast to bedtime and back in a day, it’s got food stains and other smudge, I’ve read it as a pre-teen, a teen, a young adult, and as a grown man – and I’ll be reading it again and again in the future. I’ve had it with me on the bus and to the gym, I’ve studied it, memorized it, and lived it.

So, would I be willing to sell it? For any price, you say?


Not for 20, 30, or 100 euro. A hundred euro is not enough because 500 is not enough. Sure, 500 euro might get me a trip to New York City, or buy me that Lego Star Wars Death Star I’ve been saving for, but I can’t ask a guy to pay 500 euro for an old book. That would be just ridiculous.

And if he wouldn’t pay 500 euro, then he wouldn’t pay 5000 which wouldn’t be enough, anyway.

Some things just aren’t for sale.

So, I told him that yes, I was the hockey writer – which put a smile on my face – and that no, I wouldn’t be selling the book, but that I had found a store that had the book and that he should try that.

He sent me another message 15 minutes later, saying he’d bought the book.

For 18 euro.

He also said he’d buy me a big coffee and a cinnamon bun if we ever meet.

Now, that I’d like.

4 thoughts on “Priceless

  1. What the hell is Kharlamov doing flashing the peace sign, anyway? Didn’t he know there was a Cold War on?

    Has anyone investigated the possibility that instead of having "died in a car accident" he may have been KILLED by the KGB because he was a high-profile subversive?

Let's talk! Write a comment below.