Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Salon: Shallow where books are concerned

Yes, the title of this post is a terrible pun. It's intentional. My books are still wet. They are drying out but they are still wet. And in some cases they are now growing mold. If you missed the story of the boat sinking and therefore have no idea why the books are wet, you can read about it here. Wet books are unreadable books and this means I am appallingly behind on my reviewing. Formerly submerged books that have dried in the sun when the humidity wasn't too high to squeeze the water from them are not much easier to read given the wrinkles and waves and general disarray of the pages. I have been diligently rifling through the pages to try and get them all dry but it actually hurts me to see the destroyed things out there on my deck table.

I am one of those people who doesn't dog-ear pages. Doesn't ever produce marginalia. Doesn't so much as crack the spine of my books. And now I have close to 80 books that look like someone abused them badly. This somehow makes me less eager to read them. Perhaps this disappointment in the physical books (haven't read them so can't comment on the contents) as they are now goes a long way towards explaining why I am not likely to become a Kindle or e-book reader. I want the whole sensory works, not just the content on the page. And books that have scraped the bottom of a lake don't trip my book pleasure trigger. They just look forlorn and awful. The pages stick together; they're bent in strange configurations. One's cover is completely torn off and others have bits of the cover picture flaked off. They are a motley (and moldy) band. I will, of course, continue to dry them out and will read them but I will forever look askance at their ruined faces because I have discovered through this that I am shallow and I like pretty and pristine books.

As a side note to the books looking like a disaster, it's bad enough that almost all of them are mine but one is a library book. I actually went and got a library card specifically so I wouldn't have to get a copy of the book one of my book clubs is reading for August. I have never been much of a library user, preferring my own pristine books instead. But I really didn't want to buy a book I am fairly certain I won't enjoy. Hence the library card. I only checked out one book. The first and only book on my brand spankin' new library account. And it went down with the rest of our stuff. So now once it dries, I will read it and then return it shamefacedly with an offer to replace it. Because surely no one else will want to read it in such a condition. That means I will have spent more on it that I would have if I just bought the dad-gummed thing in paperback in the first place. I wonder if they'll make me turn in my newly minted library card when I return it? Chalk up another reason for me not to use the library!

Most of my book adventures this week have been outside the reading pages, shuffling the books physically outdoors when the sun was shining and the humidity low and indoors when it was too unbearable for man, beast, or book to be outside. But I did read a couple books not sacrificed to Poseidon. I inhabited an island in Maine with a reclusive artist who reluctantly opens her home to a steady stream of people. And I spent a day paddling through the memories of a husband and wife on the day in which the husband's shrimp boat was overdue. Odd how my reading has inadvertantly centered around boats and islands, right now isn't it?

If you haven't seen my giveaways, there is still time to enter to win The Link, The Imposter's Daughter, and a whole selection of bookcrossing books and better yet, they are non-swimming books.

If anyone has any suggestions on killing the mold, feel free to share. Oh, and any suggestions to completely dry out the books would also be appreciated. I have been tempted to throw them in the convection oven at about 100 degrees but then think how embarrassing it would be to have wet and scorched books all at the same time. I don't need to meet the local fire department that badly!


  1. I give you kudos for trying to read these ruined you, I like my books pristine and would be feeling as devastated as you do about the sinking of so many. Hope you can continue to mix in some "pristine" books between the ruined ones (and it IS ironic how your reading seems centered around water and boats these days!)

  2. I feel your PAIN Kristen. I am a book snob: only new or like new books for me. If I borrow from the library, they must be like new as well.

    Sadly, I don't think you can save your moldy friends, or don't think you'd be happy if you did.

    When we first moved near the ocean, I did not know that a dehumidifier is a MUST. That 1st summer I had to toss all my leather shoes and boots that were stored in the basement for winter, as well as lots of boxed books :(

  3. I'm very sorry for your loss. I managed to leave a library book on the plane last week (while I was reading it -- I'm not sure how I did that because I thought I was reading it as I walked off the plane...

    Libraries are good about that, though. Think of it as your donation to the local library, which encourages other people's kids to read. If you are super lucky, they will sympathize with you and not let you pay. Our library refused to let me pay for the video I checked out and left at the hospital during one of my nephew's operations.


  4. Kristen:
    My experiences during Hurricane Katrina lead me to say unequivocably that the books are not savable (saveable?), can not be saved. If they're hard cover the damp & the glue in the spine yields black mold. If they're paperback, then while they may dry, (if your oven has one try the warm setting, leave books inside oven opened up (tho' killer to spines) with oven door open as well) they will be icky forever. Think of it as an excuse to help save the economy... :)

  5. I had no idea you had so many books that got damaged, I'm so sorry!

    Like you, I'm obsessed with pretty, pristine books. My poor mother has to be careful not to break the spines on any books she borrows from me because she knows my obsession.

    Good luck getting the books dried out. The few times I dropped a book in the bathtub, I set it in front of a floor fan to dry. But that was just one book at a time, not 80, though it still might help!


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts