Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dear Heloise

This is just something I found interesting in today's newspaper. It might be something to think about although I can't imagine that something like this happens very often. Since I don't write in my books or put labels inside them, it's not a problem for me, but the ladies amongst us might want to consider this little warning.

When I lent out books, I put my address label on the inside cover so I could get my book back. I lent out a cookbook to a dear friend. A couple of months later, she passed away. I had forgotten about the book, and her family donated all her books to charity — my book landed in a men's prison library, and I was contacted by an inmate. I had no clue as to who this man was or how he "knew" me. He said we had something in common — books. He seemed so friendly — yet he was in prison.

I did not respond, but I wonder how many books I have "out there" with my address in them. I'm not so sure it is a good idea to put your address label in books. I currently do not put my address labels in my books — just my name — and I record on my calendar who borrowed what book.
What do you think? Problem or not?


  1. Hmm, I don't think it's so much of a problem, a person won't come and burglar your house just based on the knowledge that you have BOOKS, well unless the book you lent is a very rare 18th century production :)
    But I thought the story about the inmate contacting her was very interesting, and even touching in a way. Reminded me a bit of bookcrossing.


  2. While I do find the contact interesting--how many inmates are reading cookbooks, anyway?--I don't put my address in books. Bookcrossing is conducted at a discreet distance without a physical address. I do think recording the name of the person to whom you've lent the book an excellent idea.

  3. Joanne, I agree that this is not really much of a problem except maybe in this particular case. There have been so many cases of women being taken advantage of by prisoners who get money and more from them that I'd hate to think that a book offers them an "in" to someone's personal life.

  4. I wondered the same thing about that inmate's choice of reading material, Jenclair. It's not like he's going to get a lot of practice where he is. :-)

  5. The time to worry is when he/she show at your front door for the book discussion! :D

  6. That would make a pretty unique book club, wouldn't it? :-)

  7. This woman sounds pretty paranoid to me. So someone writes her a friendly letter, so what? It's not very likely that this guy will save her address for years, get out of prison and decide to earn a free ticket back by axe-murdering her.

    Her address is probably also on her checks, all over her junk mail that any passing lunatic can steal from her mailbox, in the phone book, etc.

    He probably purposely chose the book because it had her address in it, not because it was a cookbook. He was probably hoping for a female penpal!

  8. I think you're probably right about why the guy chose the book in the first place, Dewey. I hadn't thought of that.

    But I still can't help thinking about all those newspaper articles I've read over the years about women who spend a fortune on prisoners while they are still jailed and who then end up with them spending the rest of their money after release from prison. I'm sure that's a small percentage of what happens in that kind of contact, but I find it a bit spooky.


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