You all know that we readers get a lot of books. Most of those books end up on our shelves through normal means, like online book shopping, physical book shopping, or libraries. There are cover buys and synopsis buys and gifts from friends and family.
But then there are other books, books that end up on your shelves for weird, maybe even embarrassing reasons. Today, I’ll be talking about some of those books—5 of them, to be precise. I’ve ordered them based on how personally weird/embarrassing they are to me, starting with the least weird/embarrassing and ending with the most. It’s confession time, guys.
5. Le Comte de Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
This, as you might be able to guess, is the French language
edition of The Count of Monte Cristo. Why
do I have it, you ask? Well, last year I visited my old high school to catch up
with some of my favorite teachers (I’m the kind of person who tends to fit in
better with people older than me than with people my age—maybe it’s an only
child thing, I don’t know), and we went to the high school library, as you do.
It just so happened that in the library, there was a huge table covered in
books they were planning on getting rid of, and the librarian let us go through
them and take some home—for free!
This is one of the books I found on that day, and since I am
actively trying to become fluent in French (one of my majors in college is French),
I figured, why not? I picked it up. Now, a year later, I have still not read
it, and I don’t know if I ever will, but I don’t think I’m going to get rid of
it any time soon either.
4. Ariel by Steven R. Boyett
(Fun Fact: This book is what originally inspired me to make
If you looked at that title and thought, Wait, that’s your name, then you just had the exact same reaction I did when I found
this book while wandering through the shelves of a Half-Price Books one day.
Even though I share a name with a certain Disney mermaid, a Shakespeare
character, and a Sylvia Plath poetry collection, it’s not every day that I find
my name on anything, much less an actual published novel. I had to buy it, and
I did, even though I knew absolutely nothing about the plot.
I have since read the synopsis, and apparently the book is
set in the post-apocalypse, where unicorns and other magical creatures somehow
exist. My namesake in this book is, in fact, a unicorn. It sounds like a very
odd book, but also intriguing enough that maybe someday I’ll read it. Even if I
don’t, though, I know I will probably never get rid of it, because the title of
the book is literally my name. I mean, if you found a book whose title was your
name, wouldn’t you want to keep it?
3. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
You might be thinking to yourself, How is that weird? It’s a book in very popular series; a lot of people
own it. And, yes, that is correct. The thing that makes it weird, though
(and in this case, pretty embarrassing), is the way I got it. You see, this
copy that I own was originally one for rent at my local library. I rented it,
read it, and returned it. Then I went on my way and checked out some new books
to read, not thinking much of it.
Fast-forward to two weeks later, those new books I checked
out were due back, but I hadn’t finished reading them, so I went onto the
library website and tried to renew them, but I couldn’t. There was a block on
my account. Confused, I investigated, and it turned out that the block was
because of a $20 (ish) replacement fee for One
Dark Throne. The reason the website gave was that the book was damaged. I
had no idea why it said that—when I had turned it in, I hadn’t noticed any
damage. So, since the books I hadn’t read yet were due that day and I didn’t
want to have even more fines, I drove to the library to return them and ask
about this fee.
Once I got there, I nervously walked up to the desk and
asked the librarian there, explaining, timidly, my confusion. He let me look at
the book, which was definitely water damaged. And I remembered, examining it,
that the book had been nearby when I accidentally spilled a drink on my bedside
table. I hadn’t known anything had gotten on the pages themselves, just the
back cover, and I had wiped that off and figured it was fine.
It wasn’t that bad, really, just some wrinkling of the
pages, some darkened stains where the water had been, some discoloration. The
words were all still clearly legible. But I, being the kind of person who
prides herself on keeping other people’s books pristine, especially when those
books are library books, was extremely embarrassed. I paid for the book,
apologizing profusely, and the librarian told me that if I wanted the book, I
could have it, since they needed to get rid of it anyway. I decided to take it,
since I’d paid for it, and I had liked it when I read it.
Out of embarrassment, I haven’t gone back to that library
since that incident, which was back in May of this year.
2. The Bugles Are Silent by John R. Knaggs
The story behind this one is also kind of embarrassing, though
for a different, and at least in my opinion, worse reason. I have had this book
for a very long time, and that’s part of the problem. Six years ago, back in
2012 when I was twelve years old, my parents and I went on a road trip down to
San Antonio, Texas. We went to see the Alamo, as one does when they go to San
Antonio. At the Alamo, there was a gift shop, and in the gift shop there was a
man sitting at a table with a stack of books. At age twelve, I was already a
reader, and so naturally I was drawn to the books. It turned out the man was an
author doing a signing, and his book was a historical fiction novel about the
Texas Revolution, including the Battle of the Alamo. I got a copy of the book,
which he signed personally to me, and I don’t remember much of the conversation
that led to this, but I remember, quite clearly, that I promised I would read
And I haven’t.
I’m hate breaking promises. Even though I seriously doubt the author remembers me or my promise, and actually I don’t know if he’s even still alive (he was pretty old, at least it seemed like it to me at the time, and the book originally came out back in the late 1970s, so he was presumably born well before then), every time I look at or think of this book, I feel guilty for having not read it yet. A few years ago, I tried to. I read the first page, maybe the first few pages, and I just wasn’t enjoying it. I don’t really want to read it—but it’s signed personally to me, so I feel like I can’t give it away, and my promise makes me feel obligated to read it, even if I don’t like it.
As you can see, I’m very conflicted. But anyway, that’s the
story behind this book. Let’s move on to the last one.
1. 101 French idioms by Jean-Marie Cassagne, illustrated by Luc Nisset
We’ve arrived at the worst of the worst, at least for me. I
hadn’t realized how much of this post would be an analysis of my own psyche,
but it’s sort of turned into that at this point. I hope it’s not too
existential and angsty for you. Anyway, this is a book that my French teacher
gave me to use during my senior year of high school, to help me… well, to help
me learn French. That year, I had to do a lot of self-teaching, because I was
the only kid in French 4 and so, instead of making me sign up for something
else, they stuck me in the French 3 class, and the teacher just had me do a lot
of independent study. As part of that, the teacher let me borrow this book, and
I was supposed to study each chapter for quizzes throughout the year.
That was fine, until I left it on the floorboards of my car, and it stayed there for a while. I am not always the best at keeping by car clean. The time came for me to return it, I grabbed the book off the floor of the car, and it was so tattered from having been in my backpack for weeks on end, and then further damaged from being on the floor of my car, where drinks and food sometimes got spilled. I knew I couldn’t give the book back to the teacher in that state. I respected this teacher a lot, and I didn’t want her to think that I was irresponsible or untrustworthy. So, panicking, I went online and bought the book from the Half-Price Books website, and I gave that copy to her instead, keeping the one I had damaged. Without telling her, of course. I couldn’t stand the embarrassment of doing that.
Though now I’m telling the entire Internet…. Why did I think
this post would be a good idea, again?
Well, here you have it! The top 5 most unusual, and most
embarrassing, reasons that I have ever come in possession of a book. This one
was a doozy. I really hope you guys don’t think less of me after reading this….
What are the weirdest reasons you have ever gotten a book? Are any of them as embarrassing as
mine? Let me know down in the comments, or Tweet at me on Twitter
(@wavesofpages)—I’m sure some of you have some great stories, and I would love
to hear them!
I am an aspiring writer and lover of stories as well as a college student double majoring in French and Writing. I love reading, and I wanted to make this blog as a way to share my love of books and writing with other people like me.