So last week I was at The New Label Project here in Amsterdam. After restocking my jewelry and cards and chatting with Giulia, the owner, I headed home along the Rozengracht. This is a pretty busy street—as you can see, with the cars and bikes and tram lines and all.

Sara Naumann blog Rozengracht

Scene from the recycling bins on the Rozengracht. Note the cars, bikes and tram lines. Yes, it's kind of a busy street. But pay particular attention to the recycling bins.

So I’m walking along, and I’m almost to this gigantic recycling station on the sidewalk. Each section is for something different—garbage, glass, paper—and it’s where all the local businesses and residents take their stuff.

Then I see a man on a bike pull up with a couple of books. Big books. I’m quick, but I’m not quick enough to stop him from opening the hatch and dropping them into the bin marked “Karton en Papierafval”…or maybe the sight of me flying toward him with a desperate look on my face was too alarming. At any rate, he pedaled away before I could stop him.

What’s a paper/book/old stuff fanatic like me going to do? I mean, I just saw him drop lovely big books into that recycling bin.

You know what I did.

I opened the hatch, leaned into the recycling bin, and gave all the commuters on the Rozengracht a full show of dumpster-diving at its best. Now, if you live in Amsterdam, you know these bins go deeper than sidewalk level—and it was just fortunate for me that the paper section hadn’t been emptied for awhile, and the books were sort of floating on top of the general paper pile so I didn’t have to lean in quite as far as I feared. It probably looked like I was being swallowed up. And I did have to lean in far enough to wonder briefly what would happen if I fell in. Like, you hope no one is watching you…but you also hope someone would, oh, I don’t know, call for help if they saw you topple in.

And of course it was my backside facing the street. You know, just to add to the overall dignity level. But at least it meant no one could see my face.

Was it worth it? Check out one of my newest treasures—


Sara Naumann blog book

It doesn't look like much from the outside...

Sara Naumann blog book

...but look inside...

Sara Naumann blog book post

The book is filled with these beautiful images of engravings, the kind where there's a little piece of tissue in between all the pages with illustrations.

Sara Naumann blog book


Sara Naumann blog book

*double swoon*

Of course this isn’t one of the books I’ll cut up. I’ll probably just put it out on a table, missing cover and all, and let it represent that old adage, “you can’t tell a book by it’s cover”.

Happy Monday!

PS. The other books were fairy tales and more history…just words, no pictures. They were dusty and ragged and I love them to bits.