What to Do With That Book Which You Simply Can’t Stand

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By Luise Werner

We all know at least one book which we just can’t stand. There doesn’t necessarily need to be anything wrong with it, but it just is not a book we want to open again. We don’t want to do any harm to it either, but we don’t always want to see it either and be reminded of the memories which we connect with it. 

So, here are a few suggestions of what you could do instead:

Give it away – The first option is to sell it online. Maybe you get lucky and someone is looking for it. There are always people with different interests. You can use platforms such as Ebay, Facebook Market Place, Gumtree or even get in touch with societies at the University of York. If you just want to get rid of it, and price doesn’t matter, put it up on websites such as Freecycle. Hopefully, someone will reach out to you and you can send it away. If not, there are those friendly, cheap, and wonderful places known as charity shops. Simply drop the book off and leave it for someone else to find. They might enjoy it more than you did. Alternatively, you can hand it to a friend. If they like it, you’ve done them a favour. If they don’t, well, does it really matter?

Refurbish it – By the means of reduce, reuse, and recycle, think of what you can do with the book instead. Is it suited as a bookstand? Put a cover around it to hide it and use its weight for more favoured books of yours. Ever seen those books where you can hide things inside the cut out pages? This could be the book to give it a try. Do you like painting? If so, make use of the paper you’ve got in front of you. If you are certain that you won’t ever look at the pages again, there is no harm in decorating them a bit. It’s just an extreme version of highlighting when you think about it. And how nice the book can be afterwards… 

Keep it hidden in the back – Don’t really want to get rid of it? Well, that’s how I feel about my Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (which, by the way, functions fantastically as a bookstand). Instead, I keep it at the very back, certain that I won’t open it again any time soon. But if I have to, it’s still there, collecting dust, and bearing painful memories of hard work during my first year at university. Maybe when I am old, bored, and try to remember those pre-Covid years of university, I find it again and might even open its thin, potentially broken pages. 

There are many more things you can do. But I don’t think book burning, page ripping, or similar strategies are particularly well thought of (or a friendly and human way to treat books). In the end, it is up to you and your relationship with the book.