What do people leave in hotel rooms? Travelodge publishes a list every year. In 2017 it included a winning Euro Millions lottery ticket, a bath full of jersey potatoes, a mother in law (no jokes please) and 84 pairs of builder boots. I’m guessing that the 84 pairs were not all in one room. And of course, people leave books.
In 2014 the books most left behind were Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James, Billionaire series by JS Scott and The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst. I have not read any of these, but I believe they have similar themes. Previously political memoirs topped the list.
Where do the abandoned books go?
Oxfam in Swansea received so many copies of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown that the manager built a tower and asked for saleable donations, especially vinyl. In 2014 they had built a fort out of Fifty Shades of Grey and again asked for vinyl instead.
Both these books have sold very well, in their millions, which of course means that there are more of them about to leave behind or to give to charity shops. The Da Vinci Code sold 8 million copies.
I still like the idea of BookCrossing. You register the book on the website and if the person who finds it reports its location you can track its journey. Sadly very few books I have set free to travel the world (161 to date) have been tracked in this way – a mere 21.
Garbage collectors in Ankara have recently opened to the public their library of 6000 abandoned books. Brilliant.
Which books are unwanted?
On a recent visit to my local Oxfam bookshop my donations were received enthusiastically and were priced and on the shelves before I had left the shop. The volunteer explained that they would be snapped up quickly as they were ‘quality books’. Well, of course I preened a little, but I was not sure of their criteria for quality books. Or indeed mine for giving them away.
When I moved house I considered my criteria for de-cluttering my shelves (see post on decluttering). And I give away books that I give up reading (see my post from 2014 Abandoning books). Very few of the books review on Bookword get passed on, mostly because I only review books I value enough to tell people about. I am always hoping that the books I pass on will find happier readers.
Goodreads listed the top 5 most abandoned books in January 2018 (from a straw poll – so what follows is not to be considered as reliable research):
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Atonement by Ian McEwan
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
All these books have big reputations, so perhaps the abandoners were not their natural readers.
And the 5 most abandoned classics – same source in 2013
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (?really???)
Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Ulysses by James Joyce
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Over to you
What books have you abandoned? Or found? What do you do with unwanted books?
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