Someone’s Trash is My Treasure

I live in Oregon.

Living “green” is very in right now here, which means everyone recycles.

Us included. (Mainly because it’s free and significantly lowers monthly garbage costs.)

So, every week or two I gather up all the cans/bottles/paper/cardboard/milk jugs/juice boxes/and everything else I can think of, throw it all in the car, and off to the recycling center I go.

Once there, it’s a few minutes of sorting (and cursing when sticky mystery substances slither from bottles onto my hands) and then I’m off to my favorite place… the magazine recycling bin.

Inside is a guaranteed literary buffet. From home improvement to golf, gossip to National Geographic, it’s always a random assortment of fantastic choices.

And, because I have no shame and must hone my skills at embarrassing my children with such activities, I always grab a few.

But the other day what I saw made my eyes wide with horror.


Someone had tossed a pile of BOOKS in there.

Not just any books, but beautifully illustrated books filled with the essays of our forefathers like Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and various other heroes.

Of course, I scooped them up, brought them home, dusted them off, and placed them lovingly on the shelf.

It’s too bad some ignorant fool didn’t realize the value of what they tossed aside. Not so much the monetary value, but for the joy they would have gotten by opening the covers.

But, one person’s trash is now my treasure.

Here’s one gem that I know writers everywhere will cherish…

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest, if you must–but don’t you quit.


Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As everyone of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow—

You might succeed with another blow.


Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man,

Often the struggler has given up

When he might have captured the victor’s cup,

And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,

How close he was to the golden crown.


Success is failure turned inside out—

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt–

And you never can tell how close you are, 

It may be near when it seems afar;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—

It’s when things seem the worst that you mustn’t quit. 

Author Unknown


19 thoughts on “Someone’s Trash is My Treasure

  1. It’s a shame the individuals who dump these books didn’t look beyond themselves. They could have donated them to the library. Fortunately, you saved them from a possible terrible fate. I’ve come across books in a box tossed by the donation bins designated for clothes only. I went through it and picked out a few items worth saving. It had been raining, so some were in bad shape.

    Great poem. So true of life.

    • Diana,

      When I first saw the books I was elated at my fortune to find such a treasure, then my happiness quickly turned to fury. How could someone just toss aside such books? They are so great I’m going to do a weekly feature with poems and sayings from them!

      Congrats to you on saving books too!


      PS. I hopped over to your blog and loved the post on getting organized. I have the same issues: no space and kids that get into stuff. Not the best combo for organization 🙂

  2. I LOVE that poem!!! As for the trash to treasure, you’re a book hero! One of my best friends regularly sorts through the discarded books at the recycling place (I never seem to have the luck to find any books when I’m there) and her pride and joy is a book from the late 1700s/early 1800s (I think) which has dozens of intricately detailed fold-out maps of the east coast and islands and various port towns. It’s a captain’s book designed to be sold to merchants to they didn’t run aground! Priceless! and yet someone tossed it.

    • A,

      A book hero? Hmmmmm….

      *sits back and daydreams of self flying through air, wearing a cape made of photocopies of well-known books*

      Ok, I’m back 🙂

      The book of maps…What a find! I have a similiar story of finding a great book, and at the same time realizing my dad’s love of books. I’m sensing a blog post on that so I’ll save the story for later 😀

      Thanks for visiting,


      PS. How’s your rewrites coming along?

      • Rewrites are coming along… my sister found like 30-40 instances in which I started a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’ in the first 30-40 pages!!! *rips hair out*

  3. How wonderful for you to find such treasure, and to bring home to chersh,the pleasure of the word. I love my old books, some carried since seventh grade, mine and others, gifts from friends or passed down from brothers. Good for you and the children 🙂

    Love the poem. A good piece to print and put on the wall near where we work. An everyday reminder of who we are and where we are going. Thanks for both the books and the poem 🙂

    • Ramblings,

      Great interview over on Romance Writers! Congrats to you!

      My mom recently gave me a stack of children’s primers from when she and my dad were kids. I think they were saved for them by my grandparents because they are from the early 1900’s. The illustrations alone are amazing, and then coupled with the history and text make them a true treasure.

      Thanks for stopping by,

  4. I’m jealous! I have a small collection of really old books that I’ve gathered from garage sales and used book stores. They don’t have a monetary value but I love having them for continuity’s sake… they make me feel connected to a long history of successful writers. It was a year ago this week that I mentioned them on my blog ( and I recall you mentioned the bookcase of your father’s. Recycling has so many benefits. 🙂

    That’s a great poem for writers. I believe the author is Edgar A. Guest.

    • Carol,

      I love old books, which is why I especially freaked out at seeing the pile in the bin. Though the books themselves aren’t old (published around 1955) they have historical significance since they feature quotes and essays from our American forefathers.

      I’m looking at my dad’s bookcase right now 🙂

      Thanks for visiting,

  5. o.0 To quote Les Mis, “I am aghast! I am agog!”

    The wastefulness of American society continues to amaze me. But BOOKS? Really? >.< Think of how much time those authors took to painstakingly ease every word into place so that others might enjoy quality writing. Think of what we're going through- the months or even years of editing, revising, shifting, changing, making it better just for future readers.

    And then the first idiot to come along just throws it all away. It’s like word murder :/

    At any rate, great post. I appreciate the fact you stopped to save them from their untimely demise, and I’m sure their authors would as well. That poem rings true for so many things.

  6. Aloha,

    I think you’ve just coined my new favorite phrase…

    “Word Murder”

    LOVE IT!

    I’m going to do weekly features of excerpts from these books and I’ll probably throw up a picture in the next week or two. I’m so glad other writers were as horrified as me!

    Thanks for stopping by,


  7. Love the poem, Christi. I’m always a little sad when I see books being thrown away. Great find. I think I’m going to copy this and put it by my computer.

    • Trish,

      Thanks for visiting! I’ve got many more essays coming, all with the same theme so be sure to check back next week 🙂


  8. Hi Christi,

    Thanks for rescuing the books and giving them a home. A woman after my own heart. :o) I would have done the same thing!

    And the poem … thanks for putting that up. My eyes needed to see that tonight.


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  10. What a great find for you, Christi!
    A friend of mine works at a used clothing outlet that also sells used books and other items. She told me once that a whole bunch of “Little Golden Books” came in and the manager tossed them all in th trash rather then selling them for a few cents or even giving them away for that matter. Needless to say the workers were not allowed to take them home, either. What a shame!

    Of course as writers something like that makes us cringe even more. Luckily, the right person found those precious books and you were able to give them a good home.

  11. Laura,

    I actually gasped when I read that someone threw away those books. We have about fifteen Little Golden Books on my twins bookshelf, a mixture of hand-me-downs from my youth, garage sale finds, and gifts from family and friends.

    Books are such a treasure and I’m amazed at the stories I’m hearing of how people throw them away.

    Thanks for stopping by,


  12. Pingback: Saved from the Shredder « Christi Corbett's Blog

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