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Don’t Ever Donate This to Your Church Library…

Don’t Ever Donate This to Your Church Library…

As a volunteer at our church library, I go through boxes of donations. Some boxes contain fresh-off-the-press books that were speedily read once and then shared. Other boxes are covered with dust and cobwebs, but among the dead crickets and fiddlebacks are valuable leather volumes. If we already have the book in our collection, we might place them on the sale rack, but there have been a few donations that weren’t even suitable for resale. And there’s one I’ll always remember.library-1441756-1278x884

The rest of the box was pretty typical – a few Left Behind stories, and a Dobson parenting book – but then there was this small, white paperback with a generic title, like Seasons of Love or somethingand a picture of a couple watching a sunset together.

Was this a secular romance? I couldn’t tell by the publisher’s name. In fact, it looked self-published. Was it someone I knew? I skimmed through the Table of Contents and saw chapter titles like On the Beach, At the Chalet, After the Football Game, On the Ranch. The first chapter started with characters named Nick and Megan and yes, they were on the beach. There was no plot, or backstory. Just two characters on a beach and we’ll just hope they were on a deserted beach, and that they were lawfully wed.

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What was this book? A collection of steamy short-stories? The next chapter had two characters caught in a snowstorm in the Alps, and they weren’t playing Scrabble to pass the time at the chalet. I thumbed through the rest of the book. Nothing but a collection of love scenes set in exotic locations. But wait? Wasn’t the main character named Nick in the first chapter? And was that Megan again? Were all of these fantasies about characters named Nick and Megan?

What in the world? I’d never heard of a book like this. I flipped through the title pages and copyright pages trying to find out who published this ramshackle hot mess of raunchy scenes. That’s when I saw it.

 

To Nick and Megan (Last Name), on their wedding day… 

Love, Mom.

Nick and Megan? That Nick and Megan? The ones who go to church with me? The ones who sing in the choir? His mom bought this for them? His mom? Yes, turns out there are websites where you can customize books like this. Nick’s mom did this for their wedding, and poor Megan accidentally donated to the church library.

Whether or not the idea of making a book filled with saucy scenes of me and my husband had ever occurred to me, I hope it’d never occurred to my mother-in-law! Had Megan meant to throw it away? Could we sell it for more than $1 on the sale rack? (Just joking!) I felt compelled to let her know. She wasn’t a close friend, but surely she’d see the humor in it and be glad I caught the mistake before someone else read the book.

On Sunday after church, I met her in the library and handed her the book. “I think you might want this back,” I said.

She glanced at it. “No, I don’t have room for it on my bookshelves. The kids’ books are taking up too much space.” She pushed it back at me.

“But it’s a customized book.” I shoved it back at her. “It says it’s a wedding present. You really should take a look at it.”

“It was from Nick’s mom and I never read it. She’s all into romances, but I don’t have time for books like that. Here, you like that kind of book. You can keep it.” And just like that, she handed it to me, and walked out.

Well, folks, you can’t say I didn’t try. And if that book became the most popular book in our church library, and was checked out dozens of times, you can’t blame me. I gave her a chance.

Of course, that’s not what happened. For real, I chased her down and insisted that she take it, but I’m not sure she ever understood what was in that book from her mother-in-law. On the other hand, not soon after this event she moved out of town, so maybe she did figure it out.

If I have one word of advice, it’s this – Please, for the safety of your library volunteers, please look over those books before you donate them to your church. And before another day passes, you might want to read that book your mother-in-law gave you for your wedding.

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(Names have been changed.)

 

44 Comments

  1. hahahahahah! Oh my!

  2. Good thing you took the time to thoroughly check it out!

    • Too funny. I wonder if the mother-in-law even knew what she had ordered. Wow.

      • That’s what I wonder, too. But who doesn’t thumb through a book before giving it away? (Or is that only me?)

  3. Oh goodness. The only happy ending would be if neither Megan NOR Nick ever found out about the book. It would make for very awkward Christmas get-togethers in my mind. Some things you just can’t forget. Thanks for making the world a safer place, Regina.

    • There should be a reality TV show about Church Librarians, don’t you think?

  4. Oh wow! And here I was thinking that seeing The Joy of Sex in a pile of opened wedding gifts was awkward. Now I’m wondering if Nick’s mother ever asked either of them what they thought of her gift and what the response was!

    • That’s what I couldn’t figure out. Did the mom not follow-up? Maybe they gave a bigger wedding gift, and that was just something funny, and they forgot about it? I don’t understand.

  5. Bahahaha! Oh wow! Lol I did get a book from my mother in law, but it was a Max Lucado book. Wow, truth is always stranger than fiction.

    • Max Lucado is on the mother-in-law approved list. I think you’re safe.

      I didn’t know about those websites or those kind of books, and I definitely would’ve never thought about a family member ordering them.

  6. This is hilarious! 😂

  7. That is too funny!

  8. I can’t imagine even thinking of giving my daughter a book like this! Megan is lucky that you cared enough to try to save her from.embarrassment!

    • Unless she reads this post, LOL! I waited a few years, changed the names, and she’s not in town anymore, so unless she decides to tell everyone, her secret is safe.

  9. What a conundrum! I’ll be looking through our donations more carefully from now on.

  10. As a person who routinely looks through boxes of book donations for our church library, I can certainly believe that this happened. I have found all kinds of things; old pictures, obits, dead bugs, etc.

    • Sometimes I wish I’d brought my gardening gloves with me. 🙂

  11. Oh. My. GOODNESS. I just about died of embarrassment, and I’m not even Megan.

    • And she didn’t even seem to care! I have to assume she had no clue.

  12. This is amazing. I makes me want to do this to my son. He would be horrified. 😂 of course I won’t…but how I wish I would!

  13. As a pastor who (unfortunately) worked with churches headed for closure, do all of us a favor and donate ANY BOOKS to other places than the church….EVEN BIBLES and hymnals. I must have culled/donated 140 boxes of books in 30 years of ministry either to libraries, goodwill or recycling. Unless your church has as an active one, there are many other opportunities to share or donate books

    • Good point. And we can always hope those books end up in the hands of people who aren’t attending a church.

  14. That is hilarious! Yes, I think it’s good to know what you’re donating. LOL

    • Check carefully. That might not be a marriage advice book, LOL!

  15. I actually feel bad fro the MIL whose gift didn’t get appreciated. She probably felt hurt.

    • I wondered how it never came up in a conversation, too. Break down in communication, there.

  16. You also might want run some of the books by your pastor for doctrinally sound content. You don’t want to pass around bad doctrine or something that goes against the tennents of your denomination.

    • We do that, too. The fiction I can usually get a good sense of whether it’s approved or not (based mostly on the publisher), but if the non-fiction is questionable, I seek guidance.

      I didn’t have to ask the pastor about this book, though.

  17. Regina-That is the most hysterical story ever. And I thought getting sexy lingerie from my mother-in-law was awkward.

    • Argh!! From your mother-in-law? That’s funny. Of course, now that I’ve been married nearly 25 years, that’s not as embarrassing as it would’ve been at the time.

  18. I’m glad that my mother-in-law can’t use the internet!!
    I once found an interesting item in a bag of toilet paper rolls someone donated. I’m glad no names were involved. I’d have had to change churches!!

    • I can only imagine! Sometimes the less you know, the better.

  19. Hahahaha!!! Hilarious!! Poor Megan!!

  20. Too funny, I’m sending this to my MIL who is a church librarian : )

    • Don’t send her any links to those customized romance websites. (Just joking, Stacy’s MIL! I’m sure you wouldn’t do that to her. But if you do, let us know.)

  21. I needed a good laugh this evening. Thank you for giving it to me.I’m so glad I work with the kids instead of the library.

    • I’m sure kids say a lot of embarrassing things, too. LOL!

  22. Oh. My. Word. I would be mortified if my mother-in-law gave me something like that. If anyone gave me something like that actually. And really, why would they spend the time reading about it when, well . . . you know . . . 😊

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