A Book Lover’s Walk of Shame

row of books in shelf
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Things were getting out of control.

I had only meant for it to last a couple of days. But, days turned into a week. One week became two. Now, almost four weeks later, the guilt was setting in.

If only this was the first time, it wouldn’t be so bad. But, no. There had been many times before. Times where I had been immediately mesmerized. Drawn in. Could think of nothing else. Forgot about deadlines and responsibilities. Couldn’t let go.

And, when my husband was out of town, I took a different one to bed every night.

I thought I was being discreet, but my husband was getting suspicious: He wondered about the dark circles under my eyes. My preoccupied state. The mumbled, “Mmm…hmmm’s.” The laundry that was no longer getting done.

Things got worse when the emails began. Then, a note arrived by post — marked “urgent,” of course. (You never were one for subtlety.) And, then, you dared to call me at home. I couldn’t risk that happening again.

It was time to end this thing. Face-to-face.

I slept fitfully and woke early, hoping to get out without being seen by too many judgmental eyes. Fumbling in the early morning light, I tried to remember where I had left my jeans the night before, then grabbed an ill-fitting sweatshirt and my/someone’s(?) shoes from the stack. I gathered the rest of my things, and headed out the door — the sunlight burned my weary eyes.

The building was quiet. Arms laden, I slowly slunk up the stairs while the lights flickered ahead, marking the path which seemed to grow longer and longer with every passing second. I stuttered, took one shaky step and then another.

Suddenly, a pretty weather-worn blonde in a rumpled dress whooshed past. She glanced backwards to give me the once-over, noting my shamed expression, my blood-shot eyes, my mismatched clothes — my heavy load  She smirked. Been there, done that, it said.

On I trudged.

He was waiting at his desk — seemingly unsurprised to see me at this early hour. I pushed his belongings forward, then folded my arms waiting for a response. He opened his mouth to speak. I raised my eyebrows. He thought better of it. There would be no scene today.

He rustled about for a moment, then looking worried, handed me a piece of paper.

It read:

32 items overdue

Total Fines: $83.20

I sighed. This was the price of broken promises.

Feeling cheap, I paid.

He twirled his “Adult Services” badge and kindly looked the other way.


*Find me on Twitter @amandahoving

46 thoughts on “A Book Lover’s Walk of Shame”

    1. Thanks, Wendy! It was fun to write like a Harlequin book addict.

      Oh, and I wish this was my highest fine, ever. Think Science Fair. Think multiple video references at $1.00 a piece for every day late. Think dim-witted book patron who fails to renew online day after day after day…


  1. Funny!

    We have had a $75 fine, once. On the other hand, we have several $8-$10 fines quite often. Either way, it all adds up doesn’t it?


  2. Ahh, overdues…I almost didn’t graduate college due to my campus fines. Before that debacle, my mom was the school librarian at my high school so that was particularly mortifying for my poor mother when I was notoriously delinquent. Just yesterday we paid $14.25 in late DVD fees at our local library. At least yours were for BOOKS!:)


    1. Erika, this post was partly inspired by your recent “confession” about not returning library books on my Procrastination post.

      I love that your mom was the school librarian, BTW. Hopefully, she eventually forgave you for straying…


  3. When I was about 16, I borrowed a video from the library, broke it, was too embarrassed to say anything and months went by. Eventually they called the house, spoke to MY MOTHER, who scolded me, but settled the matter with them by making me pay for replacing it.

    It’s my secret shame.

    Long story short, don’t mess with the New York Public Library. Or my mother.


  4. Ah. Yes. This shame is a burning one. I ended my most recent library affair on $67.42. It’s the heartbreak of heartbreaks.

    But we know–we KNOW!–that it can only happen again.

    (Clever post, Amanda. I loved it!)


  5. My dearly departed husband died with two books long over due–he loved them so much…he could not bare to return them. I kept them and have never heard from the library. If they do call, I can honestly say, “he’s not here.”
    I googled my son’s name once and found only one listing –our school bulletin and a .10 cent library fine listed by his name–a 6 year old with a record-I had paid the fine but google would hold him in contempt forever…It could hurt his job chances later, I know.
    Fun story and of-course you feel better now, right? Poorer but better!


  6. I currently owe a fine that tops this one, lol…think over $100…in another ironic twist, it was mostly due to Harlequin romance novels 😀 I hope they don’t put a special flag on me. I just checked out too many books, and am too flighty sometimes to renew/return them on time. Great post. I knew from the title what it was about and that I’d be able to relate.


  7. Very funny! I had to pay an admittedly smaller fine the other day. The librarian made me feel even worse by gently asking if I knew I could renew online. Yes, I know that. But that requires me to REMEMBER to renew online!

    Luckily there are no overdue fines on children’s library books. When we moved from Edinburgh back to South of England I accidentally packed two library books in a box that got opened months later. I am ashamed to say that rather than spend the money shipping them back, I returned them to my local library – through the slot for when the library is closed. Did they ever make it back to Edinburgh I wonder????


    1. Hmmm…I also wonder if those books found their way home?

      We get fined on children’s books, which is why mine are always so high. With four kids getting multiple books…and, then losing those books. Yeah…it gets high (obviously).


  8. Wow! Very funny, Amanda. When I go to the library, I usually take out a stack of books. It doesn’t take too long for the fines to tally up where I feel embarrassed. But I don’t think I’ve had one that high… yet. Blessings to you…


  9. Ha! This was great. But I have to ask: does your husband know about this scandal?

    I had to pay a late fee once, but it was only a couple days on twelve children’s books. I put them in the trunk so I could return them to the library after work and I forgot about them. Ooops.


  10. Oh, I feel so much better now to know I have so much company. The last time I paid a fine (recent, and by far not the first time), I half-jokingly asked if they would be confiscating my card. The answer was an adamant “No!”, as they apparently have come to count on our “donations”. Yikes. More embarrassing though was when an unpaid fine for a lost book from a library popped up years ago when we were applying for a home loan. (Thankfully, we still got the loan.) And that one was for under $10, pocket change in these matters! Finally paid the fine, but I never did find that book…


  11. Hahaha! You should move to Columbia, MO. Our library is fine-free, though you do get your card revoked if you seriously abuse the policy 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting QHWW, by the by…


  12. Tut tut!

    I’m just lucky that there are no overdue fines on childrens books & if DVDs are overdue it’s £1 a week.
    I think we’re charged 8p a day – thankfully!
    It’s a bit embarassing that I do go overdue, considering I work next door, & I can access their system in work, so could just renew online, in works time.
    Nice to think how much you’re donating to public library funds though 🙂



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