Dear Abby: She steals my books

Dear Abby: She steals my books


Dear Abby:

I love my wife. I really do. And one of the reasons I married her was that, in addition to being gorgeous and Catholic and open to life, she loves books. Even more than I do. And that’s a lot.

Not only does she love books, but we love the same kind of books in many cases. She likes science fiction and fantasy! Am I lucky or what?

Unfortunately, Abby, that’s where there’s a little trouble in paradise. You see, my wife, “M”, loves books so much that she devours them whole. She goes through 400-page novels in a sitting and she’s often reading three or four books at a time. Not all at once, mind you, like a female, latter-day St. Thomas Aquinas, but they’ll be scattered about the house or in the diaper bag, ready for the picking when the mood strikes. Again, this isn’t so bad in itself: She gets many books at the library or through Bookmooch, so the cost isn’t really an issue.

No, the problem is that … she reads my books while I’m still reading them! For example, say I’ve got the latest book in a multi-volume series that we both enjoy very much. Let’s pick one out of the air, like say, S.M. Stirling’s “The Sword of the Lady”. Let’s further say that the book, fifth in the series, was just released after months of anticipation following the devouring of the previous installment last year or a century ago, it seems. Now, “M” is already currently reading one non-fiction book on the art and science of keeping house and another book, a novel,
for a book club she’s in, so she couldn’t start this novel that just arrived. Which was just fine with me, because I was ready for a new book to read.

However, I am not a devourer of books like she is. I savor the novel, creating an image in my mind of what the author describes, hearing the voices of the characters. I take my time with it, especially knowing it will be a long drought until the next novel in the series arrives. This drove my wife nuts. She saw the book laying about while I watched TV or puttered around the house, until finally I started seeing the book seemingly moving of its own accord, from the living room to the bedroom to the kitchen.

A mysterious second bookmark has now sprouted in the novel, stalking my bookmark through the pages of the book. Just today, the inexorable plodding of the tiny card—some defunct doctor’s appointment reminder, I think—overtook my own bookmark—a “repeat customer” card from a local Chinese restaurant with only one stamp on it.

Now “M” has become brazen about her usurpation of my reading material. I would ask if she’s seen my novel and she pulls it from beside her in her chair where she’s nursing our child. I even saw her with it laying upon her lap as I came home from work, unexpectedly early! Oh, how a man can be cuckolded by a stack of paper bound in cardboard.

Abby, I implore you. For the sake of my marriage and my sanity (… and my reading pleasure): What can I do about a wife who has no respect for my books?

Bereft of Books in Boston

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  • LOL. Ah, I see. Well, I can see three possibilities:

    1. Put a fake cover of a book she would never want to read over the book you are reading.

    2. Keep the book at work and only read during lunch or breaks.

    3. Give her a kiss, thank God for giving you a wife with whom you can share so much, even the little things.


  • Dear Bereft,

    You have two choices:

    1) Make a deal with your wife that she will always replace your current book where she found it.  I admit this has potential for uproar when you come home early, but it’s better than hunting.

    2) Every time you start a book, bring home three decoy books, place bookmarks in them, and leave them ON TOP of the actual book of interest EVERY TIME you put down said book.  It will help if you move the bookmarks in the decoys on a regular basis.

    Good luck!


  • Mind you, I was being good and holding off and sticking to my books until I had insomnia the other night. I woke up to Ben’s crying and I was completely congested and wheezing. I changed the baby and then took some Claritin and a couple of puffs of Albuterol and then nursed the baby to sleep. And then couldn’t get back to sleep myself because Albuterol always leaves me jumpy.

    Tired and with racing heart at 3 in the morning, somehow I couldn’t find solace in either an epic novel set in medieval Norway or a housekeeping manual, no matter how good they both are. I succumbed to temptation. That novel which had been staring me in the face, now leapt up at me. Guilty, your honor, but with extenuating circumstances. I’m a weak woman.

    And I can’t help it that once I’d started I couldn’t stop. Blame Stirling for writing such gripping tales.

  • Steve,
    It’s been that way with every one of your books we’ve read since we discovered your writing together.

    Incidentally, John Hordle’s ditty that he sings to Aylward is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. It was especially so, because as I read it I looked to my side and noticed that the exact same condition prevailed where I was.

    (Sorry if that was too much information, but it’s about the only place I can read the book in peace. To everyone else, my remark is cryptic for the sake of your imagination and good taste.)