Psst . . . Pass it along . . .

Sep 8, 2008 | The Marlowes, TV, Movies, & Good Reads

I think books were meant to be shared.  At least that was what I learned growing up as I watched all the adults in the family pass along good reads.  And if a book was particularly good or popular, then there was the bartering that went into who got it next.  My husband and I did this on our honeymoon—I was reading a Grisham novel and he picked it up when I wasn’t looking.  Then the tussle began as to who got to read it.  I solved the problem by ripping the paperback in half before my horrified husband’s eyes. He got everything up to the point I’d read.  I’ve done this with travel books that I plan on taking with me.  I take a razor blade to the spine and cut out the sections I need and toss them as I go. Now I wouldn’t recommend this if you intend to pass the book along, and qualify this act of barborism as only intended for a vacation book—because any book I travel with is going to be set free where ever I finish it. However, I do have to admit to feeling some guilt over the fact that some poor soul in the Cook Islands may have only gotten to read half of the Pelican Brief.

Now you may think there are some books that shouldn’t be shared—we all know the ones—the story that just makes us sigh and shake our heads.  How the heck did this dreck get published? Here’s the shocker.  One reader’s dreck is another’s manna from heaven.  I’m always amazed when my mother hands me a “great” book and I find it horrible. She adores reading Nora.  Personally, Nora’s books aren’t my cup of tea.  But mom persists, convinced that one day I’ll see the light. Probably not going to happen, but the good thing is, I can always find a home for them.  I had a few books stacked up recently that I couldn’t get through.  Conference books, books from the RITAs, other ones that I had collected along the way and a friend was complaining about having nothing to read.  “Help yourself,” I offered, feeling guilty about letting her loose in my “came in fourth” pile. (Know you, the books that didn’t make the medal round). She called me a few days, happy as a pig in mud.  “Loved those books, thanks so much.  How could you give those up?” How could I indeed?

Right now I am reading two books:  The Heir and the Spare by Maya Rodale and Twilight by Stephanie Meyers.  I started both books for the usual reasons.  I’ve recently met Maya (albeit online), and I rather like her chatty, friendly style and figured her writing would have the same charm.  It does.  If you haven’t read her before, do find a copy of The Heir and the Spare, especially when the follow up book, The Rogue and the Rival is coming out in November.  Heir is charming, fun with a warm heart.  I reach for it first when I sit down.  Which is probably why I’m not finishing Twilight, which I started for other reasons.  Interestingly enough, I got emails from both of my sisters-in-law within a week of each other which began, “Have you read . . . ” No, I hadn’t read the Stephanie Meyers shooting stars, but with them pressing me for opinions, I got a copy and dug in.  I can say that I am engaged, but quite frankly, I like my Vampires a little more grown up. Teen angst is one thing, but I want the big bite if you know what I mean.  I wrote them both back and suggested they try big girl vamps.  Like Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series.  I’m just saying, books should be passed along.

And if you liked Tempted by the Night, and even if you didn’t, do pass it along.    Truly, I’ve never understood the notion of a keeper shelf.  Or bookcase.  Or room.  I see all those books just sitting captive and I feel sorry for them.  I loved working in a library in high school (yes, me, I was a budding librarian) because you got to see books move.  Like they were intended—from reader to reader.  Quite frankly, I don’t write so my books can be dusted periodically.  I want them read, their spines cracked, the pages held together with a rubberband around them, proclaiming to all the world that this is a story meant to be shared.  I want to know that the book has led an active, good life before it finally succumbs to its inevitable end. Not yellowing and on life support in pristine shape on a shelf.  How lonely.  How dull. How unread. Would you want to live an unread life?  I thought not. Now do a book a favor and pass one along today.

Who do you pass books along to?


  1. Judy Gasperini

    Yes, books are meant to be shared. My mother and I have a mutual book club. She reads lots of books and then brings a bagful to me with her comments. I read fewer books than her, but occasionally find a real winnner to share for with her. We love war and romance books. Our latest favorite author is Pam Jenoff who wrote “The Kommandant’s Girl” and “The Diplomat’s Wife”. We want more!

  2. samq

    This would be the problem with buying books digitally. Because I don’t have enough bookshelves or space, I’ve started downloading everything I can and it makes it very difficult to share with even someone as close as my husband.

  3. Karen

    I’m guilty of keeper books because books that really
    ring my bells are the ones I have to reread time and
    again. I can be in the midst of a new book/author and put that book down and reach for one of my keepers and reread that book or a chapter for my inner self. That’s not to say the new book/author is put away because after satifying my inner self, I go back to the other book. Books that are not a
    keeper are sent to a UBS for others to enjoy. Books are the heartbeat of my soul. I need them as I need
    food and drink.

  4. Jamie

    I read your Tempted By the Night in two days! I just couldn’t put it down. I also read Heir and the Spare. I just loved the name and enjoyed it. I am looking foward to her next book as well as yours.

    But, I have to admit I do like keeping books I have loved and want to read over and over again – like yours. I have read “This Rake of Mine” three times and still haven’t gotten tired of it. I don’t do that with many books. I have shared Sabrina James and Lisa Kleypas with my buddy, Michelle. I tell her about your books, but I told her she had to buy her own because I like yours too much to part with them.

  5. Santa

    I don’t give books aways, as much as, trading them. My sil and I trade. She never wants her books back but she knows to return mine to me. I only do that with new books. My keeper books, I keep to myself so I can read them again and again. Like Jamie, I just re-read ‘This Rake of Mine’. I adore that book and can’t wait for the rest of the series.

    I am so glad I can read Tempted by the Night in the mean time. And I know I won’t be giving this one away!

  6. therese

    I trade books with my niece, her mother-in-law and sister. They are fiction, mainly romance readers and love series/family books where the characters from one, return to harass the new love-birds.

    I trade non-fiction books with my sister occasionally and anything that falls between these cracks, my best friend and I swap.

    What falls between the cracks of fiction and non-fiction? Anything NewAge, psychic, esoteric, channeled by aliens. Skip any how-to or self-help gurus and check into what’s out of this world. It’s fun!

  7. Sarah K

    I have a bunch of old “trashy” romance novels, because for many years, they were my guilty pleasure. So, as with all guilty pleasures, you keep them hidden (yarn and shoes are my other ones). With my newer novels (romance and otherwise), I trade on the book swaps or keep them to re-read when there are months between new books from my favorite authors (can’t you all write/publish faster?) and reference for when they are a series of novels.

  8. Delilah Marvelle

    This is such a great post! I pass books along all the time. Although I do demand the good ones back 😀 Who do I pass them along to? My neighbors and friends. It’s awesome when I pass along a book that I love and they love it as much as I do.

  9. Lois

    Alas, I don’t have anyone to pass them along too. . . which works out because unless I really didn’t like a book, I keep all mine. 🙂 In the end, I wouldn’t like sharing because I might not see it again! 🙂


  10. Stephie Smith

    I’m willing to share any book I have, but I want it BACK if it’s from my keeper shelf. Like Karen, I have read and reread favorite books again and again, and often I will just reread one chapter because of the particular emotion that chapter elicits. Or, as a writer, I reread a book because the author was exceptionally good at characterization or love scene emotion or whatever. I have This Rake of Mine, Something About Emmaline, and Love Letters From A Duke on my keeper shelf. I’m willing to share them, but not to give away!

  11. Maya Rodale

    I was a bit nervous there when I was reading about dreck and my book cover caught my eye. Glad to hear you are liking it, Elizabeth! I’m totally enjoying Tempted By The Night.

    I totally don’t mind sharing romance novels because I want my friends to share my joy (and stop rolling their eyes when I talk about how awesome they are). I prefer that they be returned, but because they’re so cheap (relatively) that I don’t mind losing one or two. It’s not like lending out a hardcover–not that anyone ever wants to borrow those–which I will not do.

  12. Elizabeth

    Oh, Maya!!!! Never dreck! Never! I worried about that as well and tried to make sure your cover was well below that line. But I assure everyone, Maya’s book is delightful and a great read.

    And thanks to everyone who has shared how they share, or don’t share–as the case may be. I always find it interesting how everyone else views their books and how they fit into their life. Wonderful conversation and so much fun to read. Thanks to everyone.


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