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I’ve discussed my nerdy love of fantasy novels here already. I’ve also discussed my lack of job, so the fact that I rely on the library for books should come as no surprise to anyone. And anyone who frequents the library knows that you will, on occasion find some weird stuff tucked into library books. Receipts, photos, recipes, to-do lists, they just get slipped in and left behind.* Furthermore anyone with my particular taste in books and an affinity for the library may have noticed, as I have, that nerdy people who go in for fantasy sometimes don’t take such good care of books.** Potato chip grease, Dorito cheez powder, and Mountain Dew stains are not uncommon.*** But, damn does my latest experience takes the cake in grossness.

On Tuesday, I got The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss from my library branch. In case anyone’s not familiar with this, it’s a fantasy novel that became a NYT best seller back in 2007 or 2008 and has a pretty ridiculous amount of nerd-love. This isn’t high-brow fantasy or anything, it’s the kind of book that seems to make poop-socking**** WoW lovers willingly take a break from leveling their warlocks. Knowing this, I was prepared for food remnants, coffee stains, and all manner of beat-up-ness on this book, but wow. Wow.

My first red flag was copious, and I do mean copious, amounts of hair between the pages. I shed like a demon and thought it was mine at first, but then I realized it was a totally different color. So. Ew. That got gently picked out and then I washed my hands as a precaution.

As I began to read the book, I started noticing cat hair between the pages. “Whatever,” you say, “Cat hair gets everywhere.” I know this. I’ve owned a cat before. But I always managed to avoid getting fucking quarter-sized clumps of cat hair in my books. This isn’t an isolated thing, either. There are many, many clumps of cat hair scattered throughout the pages of this book. It’s a little on the gross side, but I can brush it out and it’s just cat hair so I’m not flipping my shit over it.

Next came the showers of crumbs that fell out every time I turned a page for the first ten or twenty pages. I originally thought these were potato chip crumbs, but on reflection I’m not so sure since the book is missing that tell-tale potato-chip-grease transparency that usually comes with potato chip crumbs. All I can say is that I hope it was food, because non-food items with that consistency all sound revolting and after the latest little present this book has given me it could have been anything.

Today, I opened the book and onto my lap dropped an eighth-inch wide, fungusy, yellow, cracked, toenail clipping.

What. The. Fuck.

Excuse me, I need to go buy all the bleach in the world.

* For example, R once found a dot-matrix-quality printout of a photo of Jennifer Lopez in her underwear in a library book. We’re still trying to figure that one out. I’m holding to my theory that dude just didn’t have access to pornography and had to go with whatever wasn’t blocked at the library computer stations.
** History nerds do a bang-up job of protecting books in their care, I’ve found.
*** Yes, I know. Not all fantasy lovers eat Doritos or potato chips, or guzzle Mountain Dew like it’s going out of style. I love fantasy, and I treat library books well. However, my years of library experience have taught me that all manner of nasty things often get smeared in and on fantasy novels and rarely get on on any other books I check out. Dorito cheez and potato chip grease are easily identifiable. Hell, I once found chocolate smeared all over pages. At least I hope it was chocolate. Dear god, let it have been chocolate.
**** If you don’t know this particular bit of vernacular, just move on and don’t ask. Your life is far richer than mine.

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