Friday, July 25, 2008

Those who have gone before

I strongly prefer checking books out of the library to buying them, because I prefer pretty much any way I can get a similar result without spending money. The downside, to some, is that library books have been read by many other people, who tend to leave their tracks. I find this part of the fun.

Most commonly one finds the printout of someone else's library receipt being used as an impromptu bookmark. It's like a ready-made recommendation list based on your reading choices. Other bookmarks are also intriguing: ticket stubs, junk mail. In one of my recent reads, I found a (wrapped) stick of gum tucked into the card pocket. Very handy.

Food stains are disgusting, of course, but understandable. Eating and reading belong together. The Christmas I had homemade chocolate truffles to eat while reading War and Peace (a great story in between the essays) still shines bright in memory, though I wonder if I could have gotten through it without the truffles.

Then there's the slightly wrinkled pages, which in my experience come from combing wet hair while reading, but perhaps there are other ways to get there.

Marginal notes are not as disgusting, but more indefensible. It's a library book. You don't write in it. Other patrons do not want to know your answers to the quizzes, and your thoughts are probably not brilliant enough to enhance the book.

What's the weirdest thing you ever found in a library or used book?

EDIT: Wondergirl just reminded me that I forgot to mention the Band-Aid I found in a book last week--probably the thing that originally prompted this post. It was, fortunately, wrapped and unused. Handy for paper cuts.


darren said...

I've never found anything really weird, but I've found airline boarding passes several times. Apparently those patrons, like me, stock up on library books before flying.

In a book I read just last week, a reader had fixed several mathematical errors in one scene (the author is a military tactician, not a mathematician).

Shannon@Idylwild said...

A dead bug. Now it's not like the bug opened the book, crawled in and pulled the book shut on itself like somekind of bug suicide. More than likely someone purposely closed the book on the bug. I'm skittish enough about bugs to forgive them for killing the bug with a library book, but leaving it in there to give me a stroke when I turned the page? That's just not cool.

Sarah Mehrens said...

I love this post. The oddest thing I found was a strip of ultrasound pictures. They were a year old... goes to show you the last time the book was checked out and I felt bad for the person. Instead of leaving them in the book I gave them to the librarian.
Btw, in case you're interested -- I started a book blog. :) Not that you have time to check it out with four kids, two that still require constant attention. :)

CappuccinoLife said...

Well, I have occasionally run across books that someone seems to have practiced thier sentence-diagramming on. Words circled and underlined and little arrows going every which way. I thought that was strange.

I am guilty of leaving a few salsa spots on library books.

Anonymous said...

The strangest thing I have found in a library book was a lock of hair used as a book mark.

Alysa said...

This isn't actually an item found in a library book, but have you ever checked out a book with that old-book smell? Like the previous reader was reading it in the bathroom or something.

That is non-excusable, also!

Devona said...

Once I found a Japanese Cigarette advertisement in a library book that someone was using as stationary to write an apology to their mother. The address was written on it, and the note was finished. I contemplated sending the note, but chose not to. I am using the advertisement as art in my bedroom at the moment so this poor person is still doomed to the prospect of me deciding to send off the letter.