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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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« I look better with an entire head. | Main | Slow learner »
Tuesday
Jan152008

Stinky book.

I returned a book to the library because it smelled bad. Whoever borrowed the book before me had, it seemed, smoked twelve packs of cigarettes while reading it, then rubbed the book into his or her armpits, and maybe some other areas. I didn't want to think about it. (Liar! I wanted to know exactly what happened to this book. Not only did I sniff at it for far too long, I also invited others to smell it. Strangely, no one really wanted to.) The book, incidentally, was "Bel Canto," by Ann Patchett. Not "Smell this!: Inventing New and Puzzling Odors Using Your Very Own Body." It isn't the sort of novel I would imagine might attract a reader who's vehemently anti-shower. But nonetheless.

So I returned the book. I couldn't very well drop it into the drop-off box, because 1) it would infect all the other books with its funk, and 2) the library would think I am responsible. The library is judging, always judging. The librarians get together at the end of the day and mock my book-borrowing choices. Yeah, that’s right, just mine. I know how these things go.

I handed the book to the librarian and explained the deal with the book. "This book has an odor," I said, "and if you’ll smell me you’ll know that the odor did not originate from me. I smell of lavender, with notes of vanilla, while this reeks of unwholesomeness and the grave."

Let me try that again. "Hi, this book smells," I told the librarian. She held the book between two fingers and nodded, tossing it into a bin. The smelly-book bin? "It happens all the time," she said. "I've seen much worse."

"Like what?" I asked her, but she only shook her head. So I'm pretty sure that what she meant is that people poop in books. I'm guessing, here, but I also know I’m right, and that it happens all the time.

In conclusion, smell your books before borrowing them. Maybe shake them out a bit. You'll thank me later.

Reader Comments (83)

that should totally be barnes and nobles' new ad campaign. our book don't smell awful, the library's might.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkate
Maybe some people feel they need to leave their marks on the books - not unlike dogs leaving their marks on fire hydrants and bushes.

I've always been particularly fond of finding smushed bugs in our library books. Actually, I found a live bug too - I kid you not - but it was in a CD. I had to replace the case of a CD, and when I popped open the inner piece, I found a little baby worm wriggling about. Uh huh.
January 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMiriella
I'm late to comment but just had to share that I once borrowed a library book (The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor) only to find hair--NOT THE HEAD KIND--littered throughout the pages. I'm not talking about one or two errant pieces that floated onto the page by chance, but rather hundreds of follicles, full and true, lodged into the spine. Flannery O'Connor has never been more disturbing.

I returned the book without comment and found myself a new library.
January 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMonoCerdo
I'm a public librarian. You don't want to know what I've found in books...Ok, if you're still reading this, you probably *do* want to know:-Naked-people pictures used as bookmarks-Used tissues used as book marks-Vomit (dried)-Vomit (still wet)-In each and every children's book about dinosaurs, a little cartoon pamphlet about how people who read dinosaur books are GOING TO HELL because they go against the biblical account of creation.-Sand (must have been "beach reading")-A small slice of pepperoni pizza (this was not actually inside a book, but tucked between them on a shelf)-Various pieces of mail , like credit card bills with account numbers, or notes from adulterous partners...-And yes, poop. Pee too. One gentleman recently relieved himself on a shelf of architecture books. (We revoked his library card. And called the sheriff.)



January 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLibrarianJill
Did Henry write this? Because poopy books seem like they would be right up his literary alley.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
BWWAAAHAHAHAHA!!!

Oh for pete's sake. That was the funniest thing I've read in a long time.

Thanks for the laugh.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterthe new girl
Funniest. Post. EVER.

Alice, leave your husband and child and heterosexual lifestyle and come live all gay with my boyfriend and me.

We promise not to poop in your books. Much.
January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJake
I got "Pillars of the Earth" from the library. Someone had put little piles of pubic hair in between the pages of all of the rape or sex scenes. PILES. Of PUBIC HAIR. Yeah. Mega gross.
January 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterApril

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