Isabella Baldoni, Fundraising co-Chair
The Goodwill is a veritable paradise for discount fashion lovers and knickknack collectors (like myself). If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a tip–Goodwill’s book section provides the cheapest, fastest, and easiest way to build your personal library with bomb titles, and will free you from ever having to buy a book at full price ever again. It also provides a lot of room for metaphysical speculation about the journey of these found treasures–who owned them, how they came to live at Goodwill, and who will one day take them home. Here are five “classics” you’re somehow guaranteed to find in every Goodwill in the United States, their backstories, and definitive judgement on whether you should buy them.
1. 16 Copies of 50 Shades of Grey
If you were to peruse Goodwill’s shelves, the first thing that would stick out to you (insert your own BDSM-related innuendo) would be no fewer than 16 copies of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. All 16 of these copies came from the same Midwestern book club of 40-year-old divorced moms, where all the moms decided to read it but just got so collectively pissed that Christian Grey both wasn’t real and is kind of a bad person that they all collectively donated their copies. Should you buy? Well, Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Your call.
2. Your old copy of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
You recognize this book. At least three different relatives gave you this book after your high school graduation. You never read it, but you appreciated the gesture. You figure you’ll read it some day, so you pick this copy up off of the shelf to flip through. Wait–it has your name on the inside cover. Yo, this is the copy your aunt gave to you. Apparently your mom donated it when she was throwing out all your stuff after you moved out. Wack! Don’t buy, you have two other copies at home.
3. Caress and Conquer (and other assorted creepy bodice-rippers)
If the implied imperialism of the title doesn’t get you, the cover absolutely will. These are the books you only find in the Walmart checkout aisle and here, and may or may not be written by someone who has never encountered another human being before. No one has actually purchased or read one of these books before, so Walmart donates all of them to Goodwill. Here’s the test to see if you should buy–open to a random page. Is the first word you see “throbbing” or “burgeoning”? If so, do not buy.
4. PAULA DEEN’S SOUTHERN COOKING BIBLE (with the cover ripped off)
The back cover will tell you exactly why this book is here. Paula Deen dedicates the book to every new bride (gross, yuck, why?) and this particular copy was gifted to a new bride in the area by her overzealous, gender-roles enforcing new mother-in-law in lieu of an actual, useful wedding present. Daughter-in-law ripped the cover off because:
a. that’s a really petty gift to get someone and
b. Paula Deen is highkey racist.
Also, does anyone really want to eat deep-fried bacon cheeseburger meatloaf? I really, truly don’t think so. Don’t buy.
5. A self-published poetry book, probably has pictures of leaves on the cover
Probably the most brilliant book on the shelf, this is truly the most iconic work that Goodwill has to offer. I can’t tell you whether this poetry will be the best or worst you’ve ever read, but it will be one of them, and either way it will be brilliant. It was likely written by an anonymous author living in the literal weeds of rural Vermont, who decided to circulate their poetry by donating thousands of copies to thrift stores across the country. And I salute them for it. A must have for any collection. Buy at any cost.
6. Catcher in the Rye
Everyone loves a good Penguin Classic softcover, and this stained version of Catcher in the Rye is no exception. I actually never read it, but coincidentally this is the only book its previous owner has read in its entirety. By ‘previous owner,’ I’m referring to Jake, who is 13 years old and completely agrees with Holden Caulfield and calls his parents posers to their faces several times a day. He thought the book was great and “super deep” and only donated the book because he needed to make room for his really cool gaming computer. Look closely, and you’ll see all the d*cks he drew in the margins. Do buy.