Aug 30, 2013

threat averted (I hope)

I recently spent half a morning involved in a serious cleaning operation and inspecting the bookshelves thoroughly, taking out each volume to fan its pages and dusting around, atop and behind all the books.

Because I found this nasty little critter:

Three of them, actually. Scurrying up the wall. Silverfish. They EAT BOOKS. Also cotton, starch, flour, etc. Multiply like crazy. Hard to get rid of once you have a serious infestation.

It's in my small office room that I've seen them. My office doesn't house a lot of books; there's just a handful of reference books in there but also all my sketchbooks, which I hold dear. And I don't want my documents getting destroyed either. The strange thing is that I've seen the silverfish near the file cabinet, but carefully went through all the drawers and see no damage to any paper. Nor is there any dampness there, which also attracts the pests. (I have been very careful to keep my books away from dampness, as I have a horror of mold). I am hoping they are just scouting from an adjacent apartment, and haven't actually set up house in my walls or corners, yet.

I've called the management to send in pest control, before this gets out of hand. I was horrified when I first saw an insect run up the wall; I thought it was a roach and I detest those things. I was perhaps even more horrified when I realized it was a silverfish and could easily destroy my entire library. My boyfriend joked about it, saying "they like to eat books? Well, they've come to the right place!" but I didn't think that was funny at all. Especially concerning as I have plenty of older books acquired from used shops, with yellowed, weary pages (tempting to pests). It did spur me on to dust everything very thoroughly.  So I went through all the bookcases in the other room methodically (do you know how tiring it is to move 897 books? -current count- even if just lifting a few at a time off the shelves and then putting them back?) The good thing is that I found no signs of damage there (thank god).

Strangely it was nice to go through all the books, even for such an alarming reason. I paused over many, turning a few pages, remember why I enjoyed them so, wonder when I'll get to visit them personally again. I keep thinking it would be nice to only reread my favorites off my own shelves, for a whole year. I wonder how many I would get through... If anything it was even more pleasant to look through all the TBR shelves, suddenly struck again by my interest in all these books and hoping to get to them sooner now, rather than later.

I did a bit of shuffling too, moving a few to another shelf and removing two volumes altogether, which made enough space to properly shelve upright the handful that had been sitting horizontally across the tops of other books. I've heard that it isn't good to cram your books in tightly wedged together, they need room to breathe a little bit. But I'm guilty of crowding them in, and actually wedge them close on the bottom shelves on purpose to deter my toddler from pulling them off the shelves!

I gave my older daughter a complete set of the Chronicles of Narnia. It has all seven books bound together in one fat volume. With the original illustrations by Pauline Baynes. I happen to have all seven books individual as well, ones that I sought out at used sales as a kid until I had collected them all. Don't really need the redundancy and my daughter was thrilled to have it for her own!

What about you? Do you squeeze your books in as tight as they can go? Have you ever come across critters that threaten your library? I seriously hope this is the last I see of them!


  1. I had no idea silverfish ate books! We have them ,but they just scurry on the floor - the heat drives them up from the basement, where they like the cool. That's all I know about them. So far my books are fine. I was going to go through my shelves in a tidy up anyway.....and yes, my books are jammed in, not how I like them to be, but I don't have enough room for them all. I need more shelves! lol they are double rows on most of the shelves, too, for my fiction. I don't like it, but I'd rather have my books out than not on the shelves because of space.

  2. Oh God how I hate silverfish. They're messy to kill too, and I can't stand the way they move. Poor you! But I'm glad it was just a few of them, and not a big infestation.

    When I was a kid, we had a bunch of old adventure books that belonged to my great-grandfather, and I guess the glue on their bindings was particularly delicious? Because roaches ate the bindings all up. It was awful.

  3. Susan- They do! But they also like dampness, and I don't let my books get anywhere near damp, so the two have never yet me. I hope to keep it that way!

    Jenny- Why messy to kill? I notified my manager and they're sending an exterminator on friday... I didn't know roaches would eat book bindings. Yuck!!


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