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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Have you ever thrown a book away?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (31330points) September 7th, 2010

Have you done so because the book was irredeemably bad, torn to shreds, rain soaked beyond use, somehow offensive, or for some other reason? If you have done so, why? What were your thoughts and feelings as you threw it away?

If you’ve never done so, can you imagine throwing a book away?

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55 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I take the bus everyday. I just leave them there so someone else has something to read while they sit.

DominicX's avatar

Not that I know of. When I’m done with a book, I give it away. If it’s severely damaged, I’ll try to recycle the paper in it. I don’t usually destroy things as a form of protest, except when I get an assignment back and am dissatisfied with the grade, I’ll rip it up and throw it away.

isuppose's avatar

No. That doesn’t seem right, even if you don’t like what it has to say, someone took the time to put it there. I’ve given the ones I don’t like away or donated them to the library

muppetish's avatar

I have never thrown a book away. I have given books to friends and often wonder whether they put them to use or not. I kept books my younger brother doodled on with crayons, ones I marked up at university with notes in the margins, ones my backpack mangled, and three or four that were either doused in juice or rain. I like books with battle scars – it gives me a story to tell other people :)

Jeruba's avatar

I did. One time. I made myself throw it into the recycle bin, not the trash. It was so badly written that I couldn’t get through more than a few pages of it and would not condone it implicitly by trying to give it to someone else.

Note, this was a judgment on the abysmally poor quality of the writing and had nothing to do with the actual content.

Even at that, it stuck to my hand and I had to shake it loose. The very idea of throwing a book away appalled me.

Ordinarily I pass them along, donate them, or (and this always works) leave them someplace—breakroom at work or even a box on the curb—with a sign that says “FREE.”

That one book was an insult to the tree whose pulp it was printed on. How do books like that get published?

lsdh182's avatar

I’ve never thrown a book away, however on holiday in Estapona in 2006 my step-sister damaged the insides of a book I’d taken with me. I decided to look over that for some reason as she’d kept the pages at least but when we got home and I reminded her to put it on my shelf when she’d finished she kindly informed me she’d left it on holiday as she didn’t think I’d need it now.

I wanted to slap her with a big wet fish.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I haven’t thrown any books away. When I finish with a book I don’t want to keep, I give it to friends or donate it to a local library or school.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I cannot even fathom that. I could not ever bin a book….it just goes against everything I believe. I will pack them up and give them to Goodwill or hospice shops. Once, I left books at the door of a local church (I knew they had a lending library). I just could not take a book and throw it into a rubbish bin. I take such good care of my books that they are never in bad shape. So, I have never had to encounter that: “Oh, this book is in bad shape, I will just trash it.”

I love books too much. I probably watched the burning of the library of Alexandria in a past life :) It must have traumatized me and lead me into this very ardent bibliophilic life!

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@Jeruba….You cannot leave us hanging like that….which book did you bin? :)

Whitsoxdude's avatar

I only destroy books that are in terrible shape, and are not any good to read. But, it has to be in REALLY bad shape.

Jeruba's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus, I’m sorry. I have no idea, other than that it was paperback fiction, probably recently published when I bought it, and looking enough like an adequate light read (perhaps for an airplane trip) that I was taken in. It was not by an author whose name I knew. I’ve read plenty of books that were inferior, but that one was so thoughtlessly and ignorantly rendered that it didn’t live up to the standards of good old honest trash.

janbb's avatar

As a librarian, I have had to weed out the dross many a time. Some of it goes to others and some of it – moldy, smelly, or just plain too dated – goes in the trash. It’s a dirty professional secret; don’t tell anyone I told you.

Blackberry's avatar

I threw a bible away in high school that someone gave me.

fundevogel's avatar

I threw my Bible away a few years after I realized I was an atheist. It wasn’t out of anger or anything. It’s just that I had been conditioned to regard that book with reverence and I wanted to eradicate the feelings of respect I had but no longer felt it deserved. I wanted to fully destroy any lingering feeling that that book was somehow sacred or special. And what better way to show yourself that it’s just a thing than tossing it out with the banana peels and milk cartons? Although I’m not sure I realized it at the time, it mirrored a demonstration my highschool physics teacher had given. He had asked if the class knew the difference between the science textbook and the Bible. His answer was throwing the textbook in the trashcan. The textbook, he told us, could be tossed and it’s contents abandoned because it wasn’t sacred. Well, in throwing away my Bible I told myself that it wasn’t sacred either, at least not to me.

I have a new Bible now. I got it secondhand. It’s just a plain old paperback with a creased cover and like any other book I don’t think twice about writing in the margins or, more specifically, writing disrespectfully in the margins.

holden's avatar

I chucked a used, $5, paperback copy of War and Peace in the recycling bin once. I made it through the 1500 page novel but couldn’t finish the last 30 pages of the 100 page epilogue. I couldn’t stand to see it sitting there on my bedside table, entreating me to finish it when I knew I had neither the patience nor the endurance to do so.

I still feel guilty about it, and about not finishing it.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@Jeruba…..I remember once wanting to throw a novel away. It was many years ago, and I was visiting someone at their beach house and they had a stack of novels on the bedside stand. One was by the bestselling romance author in the US (I think anyway). It was one of her first novels. Everyone had been reading her. I thought, “Well, I’ll give it a shot.” It was summer, it was hot and I wanted something “light”. It was so incredibly badly written that I kept reading thinking: Surely it must get better somewhere_! But alas, it did not. I remember putting the book down thinking, “How on earth did this get published?”

The book went on to sell zillions of copies (despite it’s transparent plot, extremely bad dialogue and overworked descriptions) and was made into a movie to boot.

I couldn’t throw it away because it wasn’t my book.

There is “good trash” and “bad trash”(in my opinion). Good trash is trash that is written by an author that knows what they write is merely to entertain (a la Barbara Cartland). Bad trash is when an author attempts to write a very deep tome and misses the mark completely…an author that takes themselves too seriously when they do not have the skill to do so.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I can’t recall ever having thrown a book away, but I did leave one written by Danielle Steele on the beach in Thailand. It was so horrible I didn’t even make it through the first paragraph. I set it down on the sand and walked away from it. It stayed there for about two days and finally disappeared. Maybe the sea took it.

Austinlad's avatar

I threw a paperback at my cat once because he wouldn’t stop yowling. That’s the closest I ever got to throwing a book away,

(I purposely missed the little fella, by the way.)

syz's avatar

I either keep books, share them with friends, or donate them. I have fairly recently overcome my aversion to throwing away books, however, and have trashed a few that were excruciatingly bad and that had no redeeming value whatsoever (although I suppose they could have been useful in a “how not to write“class).

(Many of my favorite books are a bit worse for wear, especially since I have a tendency to read in the tub.)

JilltheTooth's avatar

Only when eaten by a puppy. Nothing salvageable, I’m afraid. Broke my heart, I’ve been trying to find a replacement copy.

TexasDude's avatar


I didn’t get a 3000 volume book collection by trashing books.

wilma's avatar

No I don’t think I have.
I have trouble recycling magazines. I donate them to our local hospital to put out with all the other old magazines.

josie's avatar

No. I give them to the library.

trailsillustrated's avatar

yes I have -when my daughter stepped off the airplane with a danielle steel book that her nana sent with her, I threw it down the basement steps in jest and never saw it again

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@trailsillustrated : Great minds think alike.

Zyx's avatar

It was a bad book, I don’t worship books anymore.

Fred931's avatar

Our freshman Honors class had to read Shelley’s Frankenstein, and a few of the students burned their copies. I lol’d.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It is difficult for me but I do. If I can’t give it away or I find it is too outdated, I put it in my wood burning stove where it is turned into heat for my home. 20 pounds of paper is one gallon of heating oil not taken out of the ground.

I shot my 9th grad Spanish book when I finished the class. Adios.

phoebusg's avatar

The bible (3rd vote). It always felt like a collection of plagiarized stories. Turns out it is (according to religious studies etc).

MissAusten's avatar

The only book I can think of that I’ve thrown away was “Eat, Pray, Love.” I didn’t toss it because I hated it, but because I’d been reading on the deck and accidentally left it outside during a terrible storm. Not only did the book get completely soaked, but the wind blew it off the deck railing and into the bushes. By the time I found it, it was hopelessly destroyed.

I was really annoyed because I’d only made it ⅔ of the way through the book. Maybe one day I’ll get it from the library to see how it ends.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@worriedguy…......That is really funny. I forgot about those awful text books!

@MissAusten… (spoiler coming up so don’t read beyond this line!)

She ate, she prayed. she loved. The End

Jeruba's avatar

@worriedguy, I can think of a few books I would have shot if I’d had the means. That’s a statement of an altogether different sort.

YARNLADY's avatar

I usually donate them, but once I spilled coffee all over a book, and threw it away, and once I knocked one off the shelf and into the toilet, and it went in the garbage.

I have a couple of thousand books and at least that many magazines.

Deja_vu's avatar

Nope, I’ve always donated.

iphigeneia's avatar

Yes, I found out it was abridged. Abridged books are evil.

stardust's avatar

No. I couldn’t justify that, regardless of the condition. I’ve passed on many books, but I’ll never dump a book ever

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I’ve never thrown a book away but I did go dumpster diving once while waiting for the school bus and found some B.C. and Marmaduke cartoon books.

faye's avatar

I throw away books that I think are brain garbage. Yes, I know it’s only my opinion. It’s taken my years to allow myself this little right.

Trillian's avatar

I recycle books, but I once threw a John Saul across a room when I got to the end, it so infuriated me. That was kinda weird, because I was taught to respect books. It all happened so fast; last sentence, rage, hurl! I didn’t even have time to think about it.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Have not thrown any away intentionally. I have burned a couple pages of one when I was short of dry tinder when camping in the rain one time.
Values change when you are cold and wet.

iammia's avatar

No never, i hand them into charity shops or give them to friends, throwing them away should be a crime punishable by public flogging :)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Gadzooks! I am sure I have but never National Geographics if magazines count.

zen_'s avatar

I’ve said it before: never throw away or burn a book.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@MissAusten I just couldn’t get thru ‘eat pray love’ – meh. a friend brought it over, I have no idea what happened to it….

MissAusten's avatar

@trailsillustrated I thought the “eat” section was good, and the “pray” section OK, but my interest started waning after that. If I was really into the book, I would have replaced it or checked it out of the library long ago.

phoebusg's avatar

@zen_ yes, never – just do what the Christians did. Turn it sideways, wipe off the old writing and write prayers on it. As they did to Archimedes’ the Method (his version of calculus).

Nicole8's avatar

I have thrown books away that were in horrible shape and unreadable.

Carol's avatar

Eat Pray Love is such garbage. Just how many women can afford to take a year off, travel the world etc. A ridiculous indulgence if you ask me, and even if you didn’t. Meeting new people and challenging your mind can be done anywhere. I think the author equated an inside journey to travelling, which it certainly is not.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, I have thrown books away after they were ruined by a broken water main on a second floor, which flooded my book shelf.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I used to do it professionally. It took me many years to find a book of my own worth throwing away, and I’ve tossed a few since then (well, recycled of course). Some books simply no longer have value – decades-old travel guides and badly outdated textbooks, for example. I don’t think I’ve ever tossed a novel.

HungryGuy's avatar

No. I’ve never thrown a book away. I have a hoard of books. Millions of books. Billions of books. Millions and millions and billions of books.

HungryGuy's avatar

@janbb – I’m currently catless :-(

Nimis's avatar

The only books I remember recycling were abridged versions. Like @iphigeneia said, abridged books are evil. They don’t respect the original text, therefore I have no respect for them.

Other than that, I never throw away books because I don’t like them. I figure people can read and decide for themselves. Instead, there’s usually a hierarchy to my donation process. Books with any redeeming value go to the library. (Even books that I really really dislike such as Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Hate that book. But it’s worth reading and discussing why it sucks.) Decent books go to Goodwill. Dreadfully-written books go to East Bay Depot. EBD collects random bits and ends as an arts and crafts resource for teachers. Donating books there is kind of a “someone turn this into an art project” nudge. But someone may give it a last minute pardon and decide to buy it to read.

I did, however, participate in an impromptu textbook bonfire after finals. It was pretty cathartic. Other than it being a very expensive bonfire, I didn’t feel too guilty because they come out with new editions almost every year.

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