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Off topic: Book burning...
Thread poster: Trevor Butcher

Trevor Butcher
Local time: 16:46
Sep 12, 2006

What do you do with your old books? Do you keep them, give them to family or friends, sell them, give them to charity, lend them all out and never ask for them back, leave them on the sidewalk, or, well, chuck them down the waste disposal or burn them?

I am interested because I continually seem to accumulkate books from a number of sources and they seriously get in the way. Lots of them are only really copies of data that I could get from the internet if I wanted to know, while others never get dipped into.

As a consequence I have thrown away hundreds of books, and given or sold even more. Rarely do I regret the loss, but I know some of the people I work with are deeply shocked. So, should books be treasured or treated like any other object?

The way I look at it is that since I do not own all the books that could be potentially useful to my life, only some of them, why should I keep any of them - unless I really do use them. If I keep them then I spend more of my life on dusting them, humping them around and generally living in a space that is smaller and harder to maintain than if I don't have them.

On the flip side, I donate a number of them to a library I established at work - where anyone can come and borrow them. With any luck they will never return them and that will give me more opportunity to donate some more.

The strangest thing of all is that the people who make the most noise about me throwing away books are the ones who never borrow any of the books - they say they are too busy.

So what do you do with yours?



Rosa Maria Duenas Rios (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:46
Give them away Sep 12, 2006

I would feel guilty if I just threw them away or, as the title of your post mentions, burn them!
I have the hope that the books I discard because they are not useful to me will be useful to someone else.
Or that someone else will have the courage to "eliminate" them without feeling guilty... my two pesos...


Teresa Bento  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:46
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I tend to move... a lot Sep 12, 2006

so whenever I do it, there are also lots of books that I can't take with me, specially school books from years ago or books that I had to read in college. I usually donate them to the nearest library, because they can be of use to someone. You never know!

In my opinion, throwing books away is a waste and a sad thing to do. They do cost money and they are useful, if not for me, for somebody else.

There are many books, however, that I can't let go.icon_smile.gif I still have a lot of them in cupboards and in my attic. They're part of my life...


Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
English to German
+ ...
Selling, giving and throwing away Sep 12, 2006

I know the problem!icon_smile.gif

I started selling books on the Internet at Booklookers. There I can lower the price at regular intervals and if they were not sold until the price drops below a certain level I throw them away.

Books I really like become presents for my friends or I give them away to local charitable organisations (if they take any more books ...).


Niraja Nanjundan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:16
German to English
Attachment to books Sep 12, 2006

I get quite attached to any really good books I read, and find it hard to give them away. I still have some of my old poetry and literature books from school.

I do give away books I didn't enjoy that much or that aren't of any use to me any more, mostly to friends, relatives or charities.


Seadeta Osmani  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
English to Croatian
+ ...
Some to keep, some to go... Sep 12, 2006

As I still have no children, I tend to keep old books for future... Silly, but... I'd like my children to maybe get to know me through my choice of reading.

Those I don't wish to keep, I just donate to the library.


Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
circulate them Sep 12, 2006

There's always this:




Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:46
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Giving to the poor Sep 12, 2006

Here, we have a secondary market for old books - people who sell books on streets (in walk-through tunnels mostly).

I used to give the old or useless (for me) books to the people, in this way they were able to earn something and some people were able to buy a book they needed.

I myself have bought a lot of books in places like this, and this were great and precious books for me (and cheap prices, tooicon_wink.gif).


Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 07:46
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I can't let go of all of them Sep 12, 2006

It took me long enough to realize that some books are keepers and some are great as one-time reads, especially a couple of novels that I've read recently and that, despite of their great stories, would only take too much space on my bookshelf.

I've thought about BookCrossing, but I'm afraid the book will end up on a trash canicon_frown.gif

I've also thought about donating some to the local library, which still is a good option.

But then I heard about BookMooch and I really think it's an excellent idea. I read a lot on my free time and I believe this is a great option for someone like me to rotate the old ones and get my hands on new titles.

Well, this is an idea...icon_wink.gif


PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
English to Polish
+ ...
Burn a book???!!! Sep 12, 2006

I have never burned a book - not even a phone book.icon_wink.gif

I am known for taking books out of garbage bins (or at least those lying in a bag by a garbage bin).

Recently, my father was cleaning out my grandfather's (his father's) old physics books. I was torn like never before, because I knew the books were worthless, and we simply had to throw them away. They were mostly Russian translations of American university level physics books published in the late 1940's - early 1950's. No one could make use of them today - science has simply moved forward.

The least I would do is take the books to a paper recycling bin (which is what we did with my grandfather's books).
Library, bookcrossing, newspaper ad... Once or twice I took some books to a used book store and left them with the proprietor.

Throwing away a book is like throwing away knowledge...
I don't know. It sounds pompous, but I love the things too much to simply junk them after I am through.

N.B. I am referring strictly to books, not other printed matter I use for translations.

Pawel Skalinski


Natasha Dupuy  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
French to English
Never throw a book away! Sep 12, 2006

I just couldn't. We use Bookcrossing - Susana mentioned it above and I love the whole idea of it. We also started a little book exchange community, though that hasn't really taken off yet it has generated some interest.
If I have a few to get rid of in one go I try to sell them to a second-hand book store.
There are so many different ways to dispose of them so that they can still make a difference in someone's life: leaving them behind at hotels or hostels, donating to literacy programs, schools, ...
A friend of mine once gave me a book to read and all he asked of me in return was that I write my name and the year on the inside cover and pass it on, asking people to do the same all the way down the line.


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 08:46
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Sort into categories Sep 12, 2006

I recently bought a new bookcase (that covers almost an entire wall in my living room) and I have vowed not to own any more books than will comfortably fit and to keep two squares open for other displays. Many of my books are as close to my heart as old friends. Some day I might want to read them again and I could never get rid of them. Others that I didn't like or will never read again I sorted into 4 categories:

1. books to sell (and get credit to buy more books!);
2. books that might interest my friends;
3. books to give to charity;
4. books that are in bad shape and can only be re-cycled.

This past summer I have started some of that re-reading and have found that with books too, love is better the second time around.


Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:46
French to Portuguese
+ ...
I can't throw or give a book away Sep 12, 2006

So my library keeps on increasing.

Sometimes I like to read books I already read in the past and enjoyed a lot.


Irene N
United States
Local time: 09:46
English to Russian
+ ...
I nearly stopped buying books Sep 13, 2006

I got fed up with the dilemma. Now what I have in my place, brought from across the ocean with me, is the library collected by my father, mostly collected editions of Russian, French, British, American and Spanish classics. Aside of Plutarch, Shakespeare and a few others:-) most belong to 19th and the 1st quarter of the 20th century. About 1000 volumes. I re-read them routinely, at least a few pages here and there, and could not live without them. I was sick in my stomach when hurricane Rita was supposed to hit my balcony door, my area was under mandatory evacuation and I was in Russia at the time! Thinking about losing those books along with some other family memorabilia was almost unbearable. I keep counting my blessings! Sure I still buy certain books, but not nearly as active as I used to. Only those, which will stay with me forever.

I'm a bibliophile but not a bibliomaniac.

For everything else there are libraries and Internet. I would not suffer too much over destroying a home-printed copy. Especially after learning that the book turned out to be a day-fly.


Sophia Hundt (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:46
Russian to English
+ ...
Donate them to our high-school library Sep 13, 2006

That's what I do with the books I absolutely don't need. Otherwise, can always sell them on and make a few bucks this way, too, but may not be worth your time. Then there's also used books bookstores.

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