Water Hazards

Books and water don’t mix. Ebooks, paper books, if you add water to either, bad things will happen. I’ve never had a water-added experience with eBooks so far. The following stories are about paper books.

1. Clean reading. A couple of years ago I was house and dog sitting. On the weekend, I was looking forward to a quiet day with the dog and my book that I was very excited to have found at a used bookshop, The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. I also had to do laundry. I piled The Curse of Chalion on top of my laundry and went down two flights, loaded up the machine, then returned to the main floor for some couch time with the book and the dog. I couldn’t find the book. Most mysterious. Where could it possibly be? I did what I sometimes do when I can’t find things, retrace my steps. Went upstairs. I remembered putting the book on top of the laundry — OH NO! What if I put the book in the washer?? Ran down to the basement. Yup. There it was, in the front-loader washing machine going around with the clothes. I felt really smart. I posted a self-depreciating post on facebook and all my friends laughed at me. One of my friends was much more sympathetic after she realized it wasn’t a geeky theology book I’d accidentally put in the washer. Anyhow, I had other books to read that afternoon, and it turned out that TCoC lost its cover, but after drying (not in the dryer!) was ok to read that once. I’m still looking for a replacement copy, though, as I’d like to read it again.

2. Flushed reading. This past Friday I stopped at a shiny new service centre on my way north to camp for the long weekend. I took my current reading with me as I was planning to read and eat after I used the ladies. Inside the stall in the women’s washroom my book took a tumble and a couple of bounces later ended up in the (clean and unused) toilet. OH NO! I fished it out very quickly, laughed at the weird bounces that landed it there, and mopped at the cover with some toilet paper. It hadn’t gotten very wet because I was right there and grabbed it almost immediately. The bookmark did wick some water into the middle of the book. It turns out that the new high-powered hand blowers work really well on paper as well as hands. I dried the book off using the hand dryer (got some weird looks in the process) and all seemed fine when I sat down to read it a little later. I’m not sure that The Salterton Trilogy by Robertson Davies deserved to be flushed, but that is what really happened. It survived the ordeal much better than TCoC.

The moral of the story: books and water don’t mix. Don’t try this at home.


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