Book Lice!

Hubby and I went to the used book store the other day. I was so delighted to find a novel by Joyce Carol Oates that I had wanted to read, as well as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. (Okay, I fess up: I probably won’t read the Shakespeare book, which is laid out like the Bible, in small print and in columns, but it’s a good book to have.) I ended up buying eight books—hard covers at 10 pesos; soft covers at 5 pesos (less than $1.00 and $0.50 respectively). WOW! I almost spent $20 on a used copy of the Oates book before I left home for Mexico.

Back to the subject matter: So I knew such teeny weeny bugs existed in old books. I’ve even seen them, on occasion, in the past. I guess I had a brain lapse when, last night, and then again tonight, I took one such book to bed to read. I didn’t notice any bugs last night, although I think deep down I might have been conscious of them. Double brain lapse!

Tonight, while in bed reading one of the books I had just purchased, The Library of Great American Writing, Volume 2 (oh how I so wanted Volume 1, but alas it was nowhere to be found!), a thick book with writings by authors such as James Thurber, Mark Twain, and Dorothy Parker, including bios on the authors, I thought I saw a dot on the page I was reading—a dot that moved! Or had it? Were my eyes playing tricks? Was it just a misplaced period?  I looked further and couldn’t see anything. I searched the page twice. Then, when I looked on the opposite page—there it was. Luckily, being a grandma, I had a tissue up my sleeve.

I hopped out of bed and slammed the book on top of the others, which were in the living room. I went back to bed feeling dirty. And upset that I probably wouldn’t read the books. I’m not a bug lover, especially not when they’re on something like books that you’d hold close. For certain the teeny critters would be in my bed, if not from tonight, then last night. Is that why I felt itchy the previous night?

I was sure the bugs could be killed by putting the books in the freezer, but, back in bed, I grabbed my tablet and Googled  “bugs” and “books” and found the name for those pests—book lice. Although not real lice, they feed on mold and damp, old papers. Thus, they’d be in old books. Ergo, they’re in my “new” books. ARGH!  And I’m so disappointed, cause I really want to read those books, and even take some of them back to Canada with me. But I don’t like the thought of those book bugs crawling from between the pages and onto my moist areas, or any areas on my body or clothing.

How to get rid of book lice? Insert the book into a zip-lock freezer bag and put in the freezer for 24 hours. Or, open the book and let it sit in the bright sun for a few hours. Those are the easiest remedies. Repeat if necessary. And repeat. (I’m sure I’ll be repeating several times!)

I’ll try the two methods, but the bugs would still have crawled through the books, and I’ll be holding the books. And where do the dead bugs go? Do they magically disappear? Do they fall out of the books when they’re shaken? Do they hide and disintegrate into the spine? Apparently the spine is where they hibernate and feed.

I wonder if I’ll sleep tonight? Or will I forever itch at some imaginary critter? Perhaps there’s something to be said for e-readers after all; no bugs in them, at least not the creepy crawly type!

Sleep tight! Don’t let the bed bugs bite!


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