Posted by: Gregg | December 15, 2008

Reasons Why Not To Read a Book – Intro and #1

There are tons of reasons why you should read books. Seriously: tons. Books are, quite possibly, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. (They’re, at the very least, in the top five, along with my wife, my son, coffee, and the Commodore 64.)

However, working at a library, sometimes I forget just how intimidating they can be. Walking into even an average-sized library, a patron is immediately faced with a building filled with thousands upon thousands of books. That can be intimidating, and even discouraging. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. One of my goals with this blog is to make the process of finding a book easier. Sure, I’ve spent time pushing you toward the good stuff, but what about the bad stuff?

Whenever I’m shelving browsing sections of my library, there are several reasons why I don’t pick books to read. With so many choices on the shelves, I’ve developed several ways of narrowing down the possibilities, making the choice of what book to take home at least somewhat manageable.

First: cigarette smoke. Nothing will make me reject a book faster than opening it up for the first time and a cloud of stale, sour cigarette smoke smacks you in the face. Smoke clings to book pages, and if a previous borrower was going through a two packs of heaters a day, it’s like being visited by the Ghost of Marlboros Past. Last week I picked up a James Patterson that was surrounded by a tiny haze all its own, like Pig Pen from Peanuts. I shelved that sucker and kept on moving.

There’s a possible corollary here having to do with encountering food stains as you’re reading – there’s nothing more gross than being absorbed in a good book and then come across a smudge of mustard in the margin left by some sloppy reader who refused to use a napkin. As disgusting as that is, it’s not something that would make me stop reading the book – maybe just cause me to skip some paragraphs to I can turn the page as quickly as possible – so that would be a whole ‘nother blog post.

Smoke on a book? Absolute no-no. Other reasons not to read a book are forthcoming.


  1. my book bete noir is stuff lodged in between the pages, in the spine. since i often read in bed with the book held above my head, i’ve had a few surprises come flitting out of the pages into my face. like cigarette ashes, pubic hair, and marijuana. i’m not particularly squeamish, but I’ve taken to shaking out library books pages-down before reading in bed.

    how come i never find a $100 bill? there’s plenty of urban legendry of librarians discovering large denomination currency used as bookmarks and left in borrowed books, but i’ve never run across so much as a washington. must be i read the wrong kind of books.

  2. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

  3. I don’t mind the “provenance” of smokey smells or coffee stains in a library book. It encourages me to know that the book has been appreciated by others before me.

  4. Q4: What are the costs associated with each device? ,

  5. He said no way, kids cannot go to the park by themselves, even high school kids. ,

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