Saving Books

About three or four years ago, I was driving to the dump to get rid of some trash and I found a pile of books sitting by a Dumpster. The books weren’t in poor condition at all, so I paged through them and picked up a couple to take home. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right? I had an irrational burst of anger at someone who would throw away perfectly good books. Why not take them to the library or the Goodwill or pass them around to some friends who like reading?

To this day, I have never thrown away a book, unless it’s in such poor condition that there’s nothing else to be done for it. When I finish books, I give them to my local used bookstore for store credit or cash, or else I donate them to the library, a local school, or the Goodwill.

For me, a book has almost a life of its own. I still have my copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that I’ve had since the sixth grade. It’s pretty badly beaten up, but I’m keeping it because of all the notes in the margins and all the good memories the book evokes. It’s the same thing with my copy of The Sound and the Fury; I have tons of notes in there from the college class I took on it – and to me, it’s like I’ve personalized the book with my own reading experience. It’s like holding a memory in my hands.

I also have a very old copy of Edith Hamilton’s classic Mythology. The book belonged to my mother who bought it when she was 11 years old. Inside the book is a faded copy of the original store receipt, which says the book was sold for 50 cents, plus 2 cents tax. The book itself is falling apart; the cover is long gone and the pages are yellowish and brittle. Inside the book are my mother’s notes and spots of blue where the ink bled through the pages. Most people would throw the book away, since it’s in such bad condition… but I, being sentimental, have kept it this long.

Do you feel the same way about books – that somehow they’re like “mementos” and shouldn’t be thrown away, but either saved or donated?

20 thoughts on “Saving Books

  1. Absolutely! To throw away a book is just a crime, punishable by having to read e-books for the rest of your life!

    A used book tells it’s own story of being lovingly passed from one pair of hands to another. My daughter often “rescues” books from yard sales and thrift stores. She believes they have a soul and I think she is right!

    My oldest and dearest copy (besides picture books my mom kept..and I am 40!)is an old soft, yellowed copy of The Island of the Blue Dolphins. After my daughter read her own copy, and of course became an instant fan…I gave her mine to place on her shelf as well. Now it is back in good company alongside, Charlotte’s Web, Tuck Everlasting, and many more…


  2. Aw I think that’s amazing how you still have one of your mum’s old books! I actually have one of my mum’s books as well. It’s one of the “Winne the Pooh” books :] I used to read it a lot when I was little and my mum put it in the pile of stuff to sell at the garage sale but I rescued it and she actually saw me…She had a smile on her face :]

    There’s just some books that I grow emotionally attached to for some reason and because of that I will never, ever be able to get rid of them. They will go everywhere with me, I’m sure. One of those books is called “Soulmates” by Miranda Glover. I think it’s absolutely amazing.

    But I believe that books should never be blatently thrown out, they should always be passed on whether it be to another family member or to someone through goodwill. Just because they’ve finished telling you their story doesn’t mean that they’ve finished telling others. People get second chances so I think books should too! :]

    ..Look at me, getting all emotional and stuff about books. Or rather, rambling about books. Long ramble short, I love books and I never, ever think they should be taken to the dump. Just because you don’t cherish them anymore doesn’t mean that someone out there won’t fall in love with them, kind of like you did when you found those books by the dumpster. One man’s trash is definitely another man’s treasure in this scenario :]


  3. I have quite a few books from my mother’s childhood ~ circa 1929. I passed some on to my nieces and nephews. I love the “antiqued” pages.

    I don’t believe that I’ve ever tossed a book into the trash ~ but I’ve donated many when my bookshelves started bulging.


  4. I’ve never been able to throw a book away, either. I’ve given away quite a few, “loaned” some, and had to buy replacements. In fact, there are some books I’ve purchased 10 or more times because the people I wanted to share them with lost or kept them.

    At Fremont Area Writers we have a book exchange each meeting. One of our members hauls a large box of books in and puts them out for review. “Take one,” he suggests, “exchange one”, or “add one”. No charge. I love it.


  5. I’m saving my books for my younger sister/cousins. I’ll never throw them away. In fact, if I really like it, I’ll read a book again about a year later. Some books can never bore me.


  6. I was raised by librarians, so I can’t throw out books but I can’t write in them either. 😉

    I still have my original copy of The Return of the King, for example, which I must have bought around 1970.


    1. I have my parents’ 1st edition copies of the whole LoTR series, although I’ve never been able to read past the first 20 pages of The Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien never appealed to me, I guess.


  7. Definitely! I’ve given books away to people who have more use for them than me, but I usually never throw out books.
    The smell of old books, and the look and feel of them – wonderful.


  8. Oh yes! I don’t think I’ve ever thrown out a book. I often loan them to friends, or give certain books away, although I should probably donate some of my collection to the next neighborhood book sale, because I have totally run out of shelf space. There are piles and tubs of books stashed in various places in my house.


  9. I have a friend, who, after finishing reading a book, will leave it on a park bench, or on a roadside, or in a doorway, with a note saying “enjoy this book.” He thinks it is a nice way of sharing something with the world, and he hopes they then pass it on to another stranger. Isn’t that the greatest?


    1. Louise, that’s what I’ve done. I put a box out front of my house once, with a bunch of books and a sign asking people to take what they wanted. The whole thing, box and all, was gone in ten minutes. 🙂


  10. I’d never throw a book away. All books, even the bad ones, are worth keeping to me. I even have a book with the front cover and the first few pages torn off. One day I want to have as big a collection as the public library, so thinking of people just tossing out their books, when I’d be delighted to have them, is saddening. I’d understand if they were somehow ruined, etc. But throwing out perfectly good books? Shameful. But I guess they don’t want them, so they don’t even consider the other options available. After all, the trash is where we put things we don’t want anymore. So many perfectly good things are just discarded when I’m sure others would be happy to have it. Donating, not just for books but for anything, is always a good idea. One man’s trash is definitely another man’s treasure.


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