Ramblefest: On the Care (or Lack Thereof) of Books

I’ve been putting off writing this post because as far as discussion posts go, this one is a total drag, but I can’t help it anymore.

I borrow books from the library a lot. I’m more likely to check a book out than buy it. I’ve borrowed a lot of books and seen many of the books my library system has, whether I grabbed them or not. Generally there’s the wear and tear that can’t be helped and signs of the loving old books have gotten over their years in and out of the hands of various people. Sometimes people write little notes in the margins or underline their favorite quotations. I once found a book of poems that someone had used to annotate a biography of the author with. (It was Sylvia Plath, BTW.) I’m totally cool with these types of things. In fact, I really like it when I see little notes penciled in, as long as they don’t hinder the reading experience.

Things I’ve seen that I’m not okay with:

Marker scribbles all over the cover/pages (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight) – I’m thinking the culprit for this one was a small child. I totally understand that stuff like this happens and sometimes can’t be helped. Believe me, I’m the first person to understand that, but there are several pages scribbled on throughout the book. That took time… where was mommy/daddy/guardian? Or even, how hard is it to keep the book OR markers out of reach? Sorry if I’m stepping on any parenting toes, but honestly.

colored on TSPoLAFS

Pages glued together (Witch World) – This is simple, don’t do craft projects on top of books. Please? It took me a half hour to get the pages apart with indirect heat and a lot of patience… and the pages were STILL ruined. Sigh. I tried.

torn Witch World

Gum on any part of the book (Divergent) – I almost gave Divergent back to the library because there was old gum stuck onto the back cover of the book and I didn’t want to accidentally touch it. How does that even happen?

Pages torn out/missing (just about every photography book) – No. Just no.

Sigh. Honestly. Where is the love for these books? I don’t understand how people pull these things off. Or are okay with letting them happen. I am very protective of books, my own and other people’s–especially other people’s books and it annoys me to no end when I see people treating books like shit.

I could probably go on forever with this topic.


What do you think? Have you seen any atrocious book vandalism? Think I’m overreacting? Agree? Harboring any pet peeves? Let me know!

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16 thoughts on “Ramblefest: On the Care (or Lack Thereof) of Books

  1. I don’t use the library, but this is part of the reason why! I find I am easily distracted by the smallest amount of mishap on a book, whether it’s a printing smudge or a speck of dust or a crease in the page. Getting a book that has marker all over it or pages stuck together would drive me insane! It’s one thing to do it to your own books, but when you know others would want to read the same book and share the reading experience that’s just wrong!

    1. I totally agree. It’s my least favorite thing about borrowing books. (Well, alongside not knowing where the books have been. Ugh, I don’t want to think about it or I’d have to go disinfect. Hah.) Where I live, people sometimes sit in the library screwing with the books just because they feel like it or have nothing better to do. I know most instances of book abuse are probably unintentional, but I feel like people borrowing books have an obligation to mind the books, you know?

  2. This hurts. I can’t understand why people destroy books, especially when it’s not your property. The incident with the marker.. that is I think the least one, because it could have happened by accident. But glue in a book and gum on the back cover? Disgusting. I’m also very protective when it comes to my book. I don’t lend them to anyone and I don’t open them, so I don’t crap the spine. Seeing those pictures *shivers*

    1. Yeah, while I think the marker is rather terrible, I know it had to have been a little kid… so it’s not AS bad as an adult getting their gum on the book or whatever. Like, HONESTLY. How does that happen?

      I feel the same way about my books. I like the keep them fresh, so I try not to mess with them too much. I don’t let people borrow my books at all anymore because if they’re not ruined it’s because I don’t ever see them about. Boo.

  3. I love the library a lot, I really do, but I share you frustrations. When it comes to books in general, I’m so careful about their treatment. I keep all my library check-outs together and try to avoid any damage. I don’t think I’ve ever found gum in a book before (gross), but I have encountered ripped or torn-out pages, as well as books where someone had marked out entire sentences (WHY would someone do that?!).

    I first read How to Say Goodbye in Robot from the library, and I was so upset to discover one of the pages had holes punched through the text. An entire two pages were unreadable. Another book someone had gone out of their way to cross out every curse word (eye roll). In the case of scribbles or tears, I can understand — little kids will get a hold of objects and do things they shouldn’t do. But intentionally crossing lines out ticks me off, because it’s like whoever did that doesn’t realize that library books are for the community. Just because some eff bombs makes that person uncomfortable doesn’t mean the rest of the community will agree! And really, it’s disrespectful. Plain and simple.

    1. Oh, honestly. Why do people feel the need to do things like that? Holes punched in the pages? UGH. The curse word thing is so immature. The way I see it, if you don’t like the content of a book don’t check it out. Problem solved! I suppose just the curse words is better than full sentences. But it’s still terrible. Luckily I’ve never encountered that before. Like, do that with your own books, whatever. But library books are supposed to be for EVERYONE. I totally agree with you. It’s majorly disrespectful.

  4. Oh wow that is not okay. I started borrowing real books (as opposed to just borrowing e-books) a couple months ago and have not seen anything remotely this bad. What a shame.

    1. I must admit, I don’t see books like this ALL the time, but I see them enough. The marker book, the glued pages, and the book with gum on the cover all came to me at the same time, so I was reasonably annoyed. Hopefully you’ll continue not to see any bad damage in your library’s books.

  5. Yeah, poor library books have it the worst :(They get “abused” a LOT Sigh.
    I borrow a lot, and though I have seen books with marks and tears even notes in them, but markers, really? Wow. I think if someone would try to hand back a book like that here they would have to pay for the damage.
    And gum? ~ick.

    1. Yeah, I have no idea if these people have to pay for the damage or not. I’m thinking no. In my area, I think the library is pretty used to things being ruined. Unfortunate, but true. The most annoying damage I’ve seen was the glued pages because the rips (from trying to fix it) made it difficult to read the book. Blah. I have’t seen any damage that’s too terrible recently, though, so that’s nice.

  6. I won’t ever borrow books from my schools library because the books are so beat up. One time I took out a book and a lot of the pages were missing and the cover had been partially torn off!! I get that stuff happens but why can’t people pay for a new book. Or mention it to the librarian!

    1. Seriously though. I totally agree. Every time I come across a book with ripped pages or whatever I do whatever I can to repair them. And if I can’t I take it to a librarian. My sister and I do this a lot and I can’t explain how grateful the librarians always are. I feel like books wouldn’t get so bad if there was early intervention. Or, I don’t know, maybe no damage to begin with? Urgh.

  7. I cringed when I saw those pictures! I’m kind of (okay, I mean “really”) obsessed with keeping my books nice, and I don’t mind worn/loved books, but then there’s just downright disrespect for books (especially ones that aren’t yours)! I haven’t found glue or markers in any of my library books, but I’ve found gum/assorted food stuck to the pages/backs and random notes in some like 2 people were passing the books back and forth like notes in class.

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

    1. I’m exactly the same way. I really like to keep my books… fresh. Ugh, I hate it when I find food in the books. I’m like dscfjbgntbvdf. Or various bodily fluids. NO THANKS.

      I’ve never seen a book with notes like THAT, but I’ve seen reminders and things. Like, you’re in school… you can’t find some paper?

  8. Lisa I personally think that people like this just don’t have respect for themselves hence why they have no respect for others items. It’s sad really because the library provides such an awesome service, I mean honestly, I don’t even want to add up the cost on how much it’d have cost me to buy all the library books I’ve borrowed 😦

    1. I totally agree. It’s just disregard all over. I would be paying SO much money if I bought all the books I’ve borrowed. It’s sad to think that some libraries have probably closed over things like this. When do they draw the line, you know?

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