A Treasure Trove in Every Book – Literally!

Guest post from a New York Librarian and Book-Driver, Terry Canavan

Stories reside inside books but sometimes the book itself has a story to tell.  Better World Books is one of the largest resellers of used books insuring none find landfill which makes me very happy to see a book continue on its journey to inform and enlighten the next reader.   Maybe it is because I am surrounded by stories all day, but I get quixotic notions of where the books in the Better World Books donation box are headed.   Once in a while, when I empty the donation box and sort out its contents, I get a clue as to where the book has been.


It seems that some people like to take books on vacation to enhance their vacation experience. Postcards gathered from their day trips serve as profound bookmarks showing how immersed the reader was in the books theme.  For example, I found a postcard from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, not with the picturesque photo of a lighthouse, but with a picture of a very gray, angry ocean that would signal the incoming of a significant storm.  Here is the punch line; the card fell from the book “Vampirates: Tide of Terror.”



On another occasion, a beautiful panoramic postcard from Haleakala National Park slipped out from the book.  It was like Bali Hai calling to me, but my  jealousy  of a book that had been to Hawaii turned to concern when I noticed the postcard fell from the book “The Virgin Suicides,”  I am hoping no one was sacrificed to the volcano.


And as much as a single quote from a book stays with us, sometimes a little bit of us stays within the pages.  I’ve noticed some people use their books as mini file cabinets, leaving behind a to-do list, business cards, a torn piece of paper with just a name or just a phone number written on it.  In finding these little relics, I become more like an anthropologist than a librarian trying to piece together the last moment someone spent with that book and I wonder if someones destiny changed because of the lost phone number  or did they finally input the digits in their cell phone?



Some trust a book to hold a family photo, as witness by the three scalloped edged, black and white photos of two toddlers out for the day in the city with their parents and perhaps aunts and uncles.  They are classic family snapshots from the 1940’s or 1950’s that were left behind in a novel.  I imagine there are vacant spaces on yellowed pages of a family photo album questioning “where is that picture of me in the stroller?”



There have been many other random bookmarks left behind, but finding a book mark that says “God Loves You” and “Believe” when you are doing a good deed like a book drive that helps so many others, can be very reassuring. So to all who are in need of a book that receive a book from Better World Books, know that the book’s journey to you is fueled by energy found in the traces of the previous owner’s passions, trusts, and personalities. They were once seen as a gift and they have been re-gifted to you. “Congratulations! We are so proud of you!!”


What interesting pieces of memorabilia do you use to keep your place in stories? Have you ever bought a book with a sweet note inscribed? We would love to hear about it!


*Note* The above guest post is from a Librarian who partners with Better World Books on book-drives, Terry Canavan. This content does not necessarily reflect the views of Better World Books (as our lawyers make sure we say). We love having guest bloggers and invite you to email 11@betterworldbooks.com if you are interested in covering a book or topic on the BWB Blog. Thank you, Terry, for sharing some of the fun little curiosities found in donated books. We are honored to partner with you and your library community!


Interested in learning more about how Better World Books works to support libraries? Here is more information and here is a video about our library partnerships.


  1. You’re a little late to the party:


  2. I found a list of baby names with some crossed off.

  3. In “The Essential Rumi”:

    “Robert Fulton/ Bought in memory of Charles Steven Alejo/ ‘Chuckles’/ 6 months clean/ 8-29-96”

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