A Weird Paradox: Library Books Scare Me

Posted July 18, 2014 by Jana in About Me, Discussion / 21 Comments

Ok, this is going to sound really weird, considering I’m going to school to become a librarian… but library books scare me. A lot. I can’t really help it! Each time I go into the library and rummage through books, I leave feeling this strong urge to wash my hands. I have always hated the idea of taking a library book to bed with me because of all the germs! I’ve told you before how I can’t read when I’m sick, but I know so many of you who get your best reading done when you’re cooped up in bed for a week! What if you’re reading a library book while you’re sick, sneeze or cough on it, return it, I check it out, I scratch my eyelid while reading, and BAM!!! I’ve got a nasty cold. It’s a scary, scary thing to think about! What about those people who read on the toilet? *shudders* Or what if someone’s cat coughed up a hairball on the shiny plastic cover and the cat’s owner cleaned the book off with a tissue and returned it? I’m seriously grossing myself out here.

I guess this comes from my plain old fear of germs. I do have OCD, and have struggled with a fear of germs since I was 14. I used to wash my hands until they cracked and bled in 40-50 places (I’ve counted). I remember in my high school PE class I had to wear gloves during volleyball because my hands were so dry and cracked that I did not want to bleed on the ball. I’m much better now (it happens when you decide holding hands with and kissing boys is just too much fun) and do not wash my hands all the time or irrationally freak out when someone is sick. I’m just sensible and wash my hands at the normal times as dictated by social convention. Even though I have “cured” myself of this irrational fear, though, I do struggle with resisting the urge to slip back into my old ways.

Anywho, you’ll be very proud to know that I checked out my very first library book for pleasure reading (not research books or books for school) last month and even read it in bed! And I did not get sick and/or die! So I’m making progress. :)

How do you feel about library books? Have you ever worried about their cleanliness, or is that just something you’re not concerned with?

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21 responses to “A Weird Paradox: Library Books Scare Me

    • Jana

      UGH. I know! I was up until 3:30 this morning finishing a library book (see? I’ve read two now! I’m getting better!) because it was due. I hate deadlines, and even though my library has a drive-through drop-off, it’s still a chore to drop them off.

  1. This makes complete sense! I mean, I love my library but you don’t know what can be on those books! I know that there are even cases of bed bugs in library books in some areas which is crazy! I still go to my library tons and borrow out books though. I KNOW that there are germs but it doesn’t stop me from taking my books to bed and whatnot. Honestly when I start reading, I just totally forget about what I should and should not do. I just want to be comfortable and so taking it to my bed is kinda instinctual almost. But I feel like I should be like you and be just a bit more aware about cleanliness! In this case, ignorance is bliss for me because I do NOT want to know what goes on those books but I feel like I should acknowledge that there may very well be totally unsanitary things that have happened to that book and I should be more wary of where I take it to. The bed is kinda the last place you want gross germs to harbour!
    Annie recently posted…Bookish Radar (6)

    • Jana

      Bed bugs!?! You’re terrifying me here! But yes, reading in bed is my favorite thing ever. So it’s SO hard to try and be ok with that for me. Haha.

  2. OMG I’m totally with you!!! I can’t do it, haha. The need to wash my hands after being in the library is always too strong. If I do manage to get ahold of a newer copy, I never read it in bed and touch as little of it as possible. I’ve been just too spoiled with new books for too long lol. I’ll leave you with this unpleasant thought – a study I read about turned up traces of hepatitis on copies of 50 shades of grey. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the potential for truth is enough to make me very cautious with what I check out. I’m glad I’m not alone in my paranoia haha.

    • Jana

      I am SO glad I’m not alone! Hand sanitizer is not enough. My hands just feel so grimy until I’ve washed them! I always go for the cleanest, newest looking copy if I have an option, but I still just cringe. I think I’m getting better. I just finished my second library book last night, but still. I worry. Haha. I think I’ve been too spoiled with new books as well.

      AND OH MY GOSH. Hepatitis??? You’re killing me here! All the progress I thought I had made with library books is down the tubes. Haha. Even if that study is not true, I’m still going to be even MORE careful at the library. Seriously, can I Lysol a book without ruining it? :P Stay healthy, my friend!

  3. Well, I’m sure you’ll adjust quickly once it’s part of your job. :)

    Growing up, getting books from the library was one of the best parts of my week. I don’t think I’ve ever considered the germ factor. I mean, they’re books. I guess I figure I’m must more likely to get sick from doorknobs and other everyday items everyone uses. Or babysitting small children. I blame all my college colds on those kids. ;)
    Kel (Booked til Tuesday) recently posted…Top 10 Characters I Want on a Deserted Island

  4. I was just thinking about this the other day! I got some books at the library and I feel like I need to wash my hands all the time after handling them. ICK! I wish libraries had sanitation stations with clorox wipes. Libraries could hire more pages to do this before they shelve them back. Until then I guess I’ll just have to have some of those wipes in my car ready for when I go to the library and check out books. Alas, I just don’t have enough money to “buy all the books.”
    Devan @ Book Strings recently posted…Review: The Shadow Prince by. Bree Despain

  5. I’m going to be honest here, I never thought about the germs until I became a librarian! Now, I see the condition the books are returned in, and how some are slimy, some have toilet paper in them (ew ew ew), some even have blood on them (we get rid of those, obviously). Don’t get me wrong, I still check out our books, I just clean my hands a lot. :)

    • Jana

      Yes, I can imagine that librarianship can be pretty enlightening! I know once I have a job in a library I’ll be using lots of hand sanitizer. Hehe.

  6. I LOVE the library and I generally always take out library books but I totally get what you mean! Like I was reading a library book the other day and there was dry snot on some pages which is so sickening and it made me not want to touch the pages at all, but that was quite a rare occasion. A lot of the books I’ve gotten out, the pages look brand new. I don’t have OCD and I don’t really worry about germs all that much (except for public toilets. I really don’t like public toilets.) but I totally get what you mean! :) x
    Kyra recently posted…2014 End of Year Book Survey

    • Jana

      OH MY GOSH. That’s the worst thing ever! I wouldn’t want to touch the pages anymore either. Usually books I check out are clean-looking as well, but I had a children’s lit class a couple semesters ago and was reading a lot of kids books, and those were pretty yucky sometimes. (And yes, I’m with you on public toilets. So gross.)

  7. Really I have never thought of a lot of this. I read around 50 books from the library per year and sure some books are gross. People have spilled food on them and stained the book, but for the most part I get the sanctification that when I return the book another person gets the chance to read it. I love owning books, but I’m never going to stop supporting my local library.
    Rachael @ Rachael Turns Pages recently posted…Out with the Old & In the the New: July 2014

    • Jana

      I think it’s great that you’re so supportive of your local library. :) And it is nice to think that you’re sharing your love of reading with other people when you return books and they then check them out.