Tomes Have No Place In My Luggage, Thanks Very Much

Alastair Campbell tops poll of discarded books
Michelle Pauli
Wednesday August 29, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

The former Downing Street communications chief Alastair Campbell received an unwelcome literary accolade today.

His memoir, which has sold over 55,000 copies since its publication in June, may be “the most compelling and revealing account of contemporary politics you will ever read” according his publishers, Hutchinson, but it appears not to be compelling enough for readers to want to hang on to it. A new survey compiled by the hotel chain Travelodge has The Blair Years topping the list of literary works most often left behind in hotel rooms.The spin doctor finds himself tangling once more with one of his former sparring partners: the former editor of the Daily Mirror Piers Morgan was runner-up with his book Don’t You Know Who I Am?

The rest of the list is no more high-brow, with Katie Price, better known as the glamour model Jordan, in third place with her book A Whole New World, and Jilly Cooper following in fourth place with Wicked. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, the fastest-selling book ever, was the tenth most left-behind book in the chain’s hotel rooms.The director of operations at Travelodge, Jason Cotta, suggested that the annual review offers a “good idea of what is going on in consumers’ minds during the summer holidays””Clearly celebrity status is what we all want to know about,” he said, “and Alastair Campbell’s diaries were bound to intrigue.”

Over 6500 books are left behind in Travelodge hotels throughout the year and are either returned to customers or donated to local charity shop.

It is unclear whether the books are read before being abandoned or are simply discarded out of boredom. However, most of the books on the list are hardbacks and many are heavy tomes – in weight if not in tone – which may offer some clues as to why holidaymakers choose to discard them rather than carry them on their travels. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows comes in at nearly 800 pages while Wicked is pushing on 900. The reasons for the frequent abandonment in Travelodge hotels of Paul McKenna’s I Can Make You Thin can, however, only be a matter of speculation.

Apart from Harry Potter, which has topped the charts since its publication on July 21, the ‘discarded’ list does not feature many of the summer’s hottest titles. While the bestseller top 10 lists are filled with Richard and Judy’s summer reading bookclub – featuring paperbacks including The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, The House at Riverton, The Savage Garden – these fiction titles do not appear in the Travelodge poll, suggesting that these types of book are devoured and packed to take home rather than abandoned for the amusement of Travelodge cleaning staff.

The top 10 most discarded books in hotel rooms

1. The Blair Years by Alastair Campbell
2. Don’t You Know Who I Am? by Piers Morgan
3. A Whole New World by Jordan
4. Wicked by Jilly Cooper
5. Dr Who Creatures & Demons by Justin Richard
6. The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown
7. I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna
8. Humble Pie by Gordon Ramsay
9. The Story Of A Man And His Mouth by Chris Moyles
10. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

Obviously these sort of people are either

1. too rich that they can afford to throw a book away
2. too rich that they can afford to throw a book away to make space for souvenirs
3. too rich that they can afford to throw a book away to lighten their luggage load
4. too rich that they can afford to throw a book away just because they can’t stand reading it anymore

I don’t know, I’m just irked by people who take books so lightly, no matter how trashy the content may be. And presumably those women who discarded Jilly Cooper’s blockbuster didn’t realise its health benefits.

Bolded titles are ones I’ve read.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lovelyloey
    Nov 15, 2007 @ 07:42:46

    I never throw books in this manner.
    I was quite tempted to ditch my thrift copy of Dracula in China, but I brought it back.

    nylusmilk: cannot throw! donate at least… though we never really know where donated book go. hmm…


  2. judyb12
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 04:35:05

    The books weren’t thrown away like garbage, they were left for others to read. Have you heard of BookCrossing?

    nylusmilk: i sure have, but i don’t know if all the books were bookcrossed… and would they write an article like that and leave out an important fact like that? that would be biased journalism at its most petty then!


  3. judyb12
    Nov 17, 2007 @ 00:32:42

    i’m not saying the books were BookCrossing books, but the sentiment seems the same to me. Why assume that people who leave books for others to read are ‘too rich’? And why keep a book if you no longer want/need it?

    nylusmilk: true, people can be not rich and wasteful. i don’t agree with the way they dispose of the books because it can thrown away just like that rather than be picked up to be read by a passing stranger. i’d think that donating to charity or libraries would be better, but that’s me.


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