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?