Germophobe’s Guide to Library Books

I love libraries. I love books. I love having access to books from libraries for free. And so do lots of other people.

I am the type of person who always has hand sanitizer in her bag. I also keep a little bottle of rubbing alcohol in my car and one next to my bed. I don’t like when my hands or feet feel dirty (which I feel like sometimes even after taking a shower) , so I’ll spray them with a bit of alcohol before bed, and I wipe the seat before using the bathroom in my own home (other people live here too).

That being said, you can imagine that I feel some type of way about reading books other people have had their hands on, have placed on various surfaces, have taken into their own bathrooms…are you getting the picture? Okay.

So here’s what I do when I borrow a book from my local library (If you have a better way, please let me know):

First things first. I wipe down the outside of the book with rubbing alcohol and a napkin. Sometimes I’ll do it as soon as I get in my car after leaving the library, sometimes I wait until I get home.

Second. I turn the book over and shake it out gently, also flipping through the pages to make sure nothing gross is stuck in there (I’ve found old candy wrappers that someone else probably used as a bookmark, I’ve found crumbs, and there may have also been a squished little bug once or twice.). Then I lay the book open and flip through it again to make sure there’s nothing jammed into the spine or that needs to be wiped off the pages.

Third. I lightly mist the pages of the book with rubbing alcohol as I flip through them quickly. We’re not wetting the pages here, and there shouldn’t be any wet spots left either—we don’t want to cause any damage. This is probably more mental than anything, but it makes me feel better.

Fourth. I wash my hands after every reading session. While I’m reading I make sure not to touch my face or handle food.

In general, I don’t do anything with, or to, the book that I wouldn’t want anyone else to do (even though I know other people most certainly do all of these things and more). I don’t take books to the bathroom with me (that’s what smart phones are for, and even that gets an alcohol wipe when I’m done). I don’t eat or drink directly over the book. I certainly do not lick my finger to turn the page (just bear the extra couple seconds people!).

I do these things with every book I get from the library. Sometimes I do it with books I buy as well, especially wiping the covers. I really wish there was a more efficient way to completely sanitize books from the library.

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a detailed guide, and it certainly isn’t for anyone with an extreme phobia, just a little of what I do to feel better about community books.

If you have any tips for sanitizing books in a way that makes you feel more comfortable touching them after other people have had them, or if you have scientific proof that germs do not live on the pages of books, share them below!

Happy Reading!


P.S. We’ll see you in a couple days for our Short Story Thursday, and next week we’re taking a mental heath break.  We’ll be back the first week of June!



2 thoughts on “Germophobe’s Guide to Library Books

    1. Definitely! When I do buy books, I tend to get them from Amazon. I wipe those down too, though I don’t necessarily feel the need to shake them out.


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