When to throw it away

15 10 2008

Nothing pains me more than having to throw a book away.  Nothing.  It’s like admitting your 93 year old grandfather just can’t be kept on life support any longer – that it’s time to move on to something new.

This is a very apt metaphor.  Books, if recycled can move on to a kind of “book heaven” where they can become other things.  If coke bottles can become blankets, books can be ground down and the paper re-used for new books! (Or toilet paper, or packing material, or whatnot.)

Here are 5 times you should not feel guilty about sending a book to the wild paper-product yonder:

1.  In case of severe water damage and mold.  The black plague cannot be cured when it takes hold of books.  You either have to cut out the cancer or send it on its way.  If the water damage is so severe that you cannot seperate the pages, it’s time to let it go as well.

2.  Obsolete computer books.  Seriously, why do they print these things anymore?  This is what the internet is for.  Have that old “How to Design a Webpage” from 1998 still sitting around?  I promise you, you will never use it.  The only person who can find value in these is my dad who uses obsolete computer parts to fix new computer bugs… and I doubt he’s ever used a book for that.

3.  Mass market paperbacks that are falling apart.  It’s normally cheaper to replace these than have them fixed.  Unless the book is out of print or you have sentimental value placed in that one copy, just replace it.  I do have a sentimental MMP that’s falling apart – it’s the first romance novel I ever read.  I was a teenager and I sat in the floor of the library reading it until my mom found me (thank God I’m a fast reader) and then I had to repeat the exercise until I finished the book.  Years later, I couldn’t find it in print, so I went back to that library and it was in the same place on the same shelf, having never been touched again.  I checked it out and never took it back… the late fees were well worth it.  When it came back into print, I bought a new copy for reading, but that first copy will always be loved.

4.  Books that have met the fate of canine kind.  I left a copy of The Invisible War in the bathroom floor and my Great Dane found it.  There was nothing left to do but hold a funeral.

5.  The book the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons left hanging on your mailbox because you pretended you weren’t home.  I have about 40 of them…  Unless you are particularly interested (I kept one that said “Caucasian Version”) condemn them to the fiery pits of recyclers, please.

You may feel guilty, but trust me – the fate of your library is better off with this kind of weeding.  Hopefully the book you lost can be reincarnated into a book you love.  (However, if it’s not on the list, you’d be better off mailing it to me than throwing it out.  When I die, I am going to haunt people who throw away books needlessly – and I’m a giant bitch.)

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5 responses

16 10 2008
David H. Schleicher

What about books that were so bad you don’t feel right about passing them along or donating them to a library because you don’t want other people to suffer through them? Mind you, these books are in excellent condition. Should we pass judgements on such books and send them to an early grave?

16 10 2008
theabusedbookliberationproject

I’m facing this with Ken Follett’s books right now, and it’s a hard one. I bought a lot of his books off of ebay and then realized that I can’t stand his writing style. Bad is a very nice word even though the books are in excellent condition. I’m leaning towards letting them live instead of feeding my fireplace.

Now, in the case of a book on something crazy like Scientology, I recommend making marginalia on the stupid parts and then turning it in to Goodwill.

I just talked with my husband about it and we decided that some people have different ideas of good. I used to read Patricia Cornwell in high school but now I can’t stand her. She was my gateway drug to Tami Hoag and Kathy Reichs. Should I keep future generations of people like me from using them as stepping stones?

If the answer is yes, then you can always use it as a doorstop.

18 10 2008
n8andbumber

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I wish you the best in your adoption efforts!

18 10 2008
David H. Schleicher

Cyndi, you have convinced me to donate the books to the local library. In the end, I guess books can abuse us, but we should never abuse them.

18 10 2008
Cyndi

Wow, that sounds like raising dogs or children… the adults end up taking the abuse. 🙂

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