Please Don’t Throw Your Books Away – Dad

A few weeks ago the Friends of the Seattle Public Library had one of the two massive book sales they hold each year. Picture an airplane hangar filled with table upon table of books, yours for $1 a book, or slightly more for an author autographed or book in exceptional condition, and you have a picture of book lover euphoria.

Driving back from the sale with eight books in hand and only $10 out-of-pocket, my Dad phoned. Like me, both of my parents are book fiends, so I told my Dad about the rows upon rows of books I perused and of my great bargains. He was surprised. “Do libraries still accept book donations?” “Yes,” I replied. “Huh. I usually just throw my books away once I’ve read them.”

As my brain screamed “Dear God” and I narrowly avoided running into the curb, what inexplicably came out of my mouth was “Did you at least recycle?”

The concept of throwing books away is simply impossible. Books are sacred. You may lend or give books to friends, donate them to the library or even sell them on half.com, but as the daughter of a woman who hoards the written word in all its forms, throwing a writing away is heresy.

I quickly educated my Dad on the fact that yes, to my knowledge all libraries accept book donations and thanked God he mostly buys electronic books these days thanks to the iPad and Kindle. Then I thought, do other people do this too?

For those of you looking to streamline your bookshelves, here are some ways to save your books from the recycle bin and put them out into the world for the benefit of others.

Donate

The Seattle Public Library will accept donations of three boxes or less at any of its branches. Have more to donate? Take your books to the Friends Book Sale sorting room, located at 6310 NE 74th St., Seattle, WA, 98115, within Warren G. Magnuson Park. Donations are accepted at Magnuson Park on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Not in Seattle? Check your local library for its donation policies or contact your local bookstore for the names of charities seeking book donations. Many children’s shelters are in constant need of  children’s books.

Trade

My girlfriends and I regularly swap books. Reading books your friends have chosen automatically gives you someone to discuss the book with and is an interesting insight into your friends.

Have more books than your friends can read?  Bookins is an online trading source for books and DVDs.  You list the books and DVDs you are willing to part with and when someone picks one of your offerings you ship it at no cost to you (you print out a prepaid mail slip).  In exchange you get points which you can use to choose a book or movie someone else has listed.  In addition to your points you pay $4.49 for shipping.  There are over 50,000 readers on Bookins so the selection is pretty large.

I have a friend who leaves books she’s read on long flights in the airport gate area with a post-it that says they’re free for the taking. A nice gift to the traveler who finished their reading material before their next connection.

Sell

Sell your books on half.com or ebay.com and get some extra cash to buy more books. Brand new hardback best sellers usually fetch the highest price.

What do you do with your already read books?

Surprising Facts About Charity in America

Over the holidays I found myself reading Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism by Arthur C. Brooks.  Some article I read lead me to this book and it is an eye-opening must read

Arthur C. Brooks is a Seattle native, currently living in Syracuse, New York and is the President of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.  He was raised liberal and is a self-proclaimed independent.  This is noteworthy because his findings on who gives to charity and who doesn’t in America is not very flattering to liberals.  Brooks himself was so shocked by the data his research yielded that he re-ran his analysis and gathered new data.  as he says, “nothing worked.  In the end, I had no option but to change my views.”

Here are just a few of Brooks’s findings:

  • “The working poor in America give more of their money – not less – to charity than middle class people.”
  • Religious Conservatives “are as charitable, or more so, than any other part of the population, including to secular causes.”
  • “Secular liberals are poor givers.”  “They give away less than a third as much money as religious conservatives, and about half as much as the population in general, despite having higher average incomes than either group.  They are 12 points less likely to volunteer than religious conservatives, and they volunteer only about half as often.  They are less generous than others in many informal ways as well.  For example, they are significantly less likely than the population average to return excess change mistakenly given to them by a cashier.”

Are you shocked? 

I was and wasn’t.  I’ve personally had the experience of sitting at a charity function at a table with 8 other attorneys and been the only person (I’m counting Jim and me as one here) in the group to “raise the paddle” to give money to that charity even though I made less that the other 8 people at the table, the charity was not one in which I am actively involved, and the remaining 8 persons are self-professed democrats.  Huh?  So I wasn’t particularly shocked about the secular liberal finding (although I do know exceptions to this rule). 

The fascinating part of Brooks’s findings is the why.  Why does the working poor give more?  Why do liberals give less money to charity?  Why does this all matter?

I also found that after reading this book, the way I thought subtly changed.  On a flight back from Vegas someone from the flight before had left a unopened, gift-wrapped box of cookies on her seat.  Did the person who sat at that seat turn them over to the flight attendant, even though we were 15 minutes from take-off and they could have been sent into the terminal?  NO.  She loudly marveled about her good luck and kept them.  When we arrived in Seattle, SHE TOOK THEM HOME!  I sat there – appalled – and thought, “she must be a secular liberal.”

Please take a look at Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism and let me know what you think.  I would love to hear your take-aways from this book.

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