I have a question about houseguests and books.
A friend of my husband (I’ll call him Gary) is staying with us for a few days. He met up with my husband for drinks/dinner last evening before coming home. I got home before them and was just relaxing when they came in. I greeted them at the door and said hello to the Gary. A little bit of chit chat at the door and then my husband heads down to the kitchen. Apparently they hadn’t eaten out, but had brought home take-out. Gary begins to follow him down the hall. Because our place is on the small side we have lined the main hallway of the house with tall bookcases for our extensive book collections. No one has ever given it more than a cursory glance and a comment (“Oh, this looks great.” “Where did you get these shelves.” “What a great space-saver for the other rooms.” Etc.). Gary, however, stops and starts looking at all the books (no real problem with that), but then starts reading out and commenting on titles.
The section he seems to have stopped on and become fascinated with is my romance novels, which, of course, have some crazy titles (thanks Johanna Lindsey, lol). Anyway, I just kind of laugh and say, “Oh yeah, romance novels, great stuff.” And proceed to the kitchen. But he doesn’t follow. He starts pulling them out and reading book jackets and such, all the while making various comments. He finally picks up one, reads the title and part of the jacket aloud, and then tosses it into the spare bedroom declaring that he’s “picked his bedtime reading.” I was kind of stunned. First, he picked the raciest book there, lol, so I was a little mortified (though I had a good chuckle later when I told my husband some of the content of the book his friend had “borrowed” and he says (disappointed sounding), “How come I’ve never seen this book?” - this book has been sitting there for 2 years – he just never looks at my books – lol).
The second thing is, I am very particular about my books. I don’t dog ear pages. I read them very gently (books I’ve read over and over again show very little wear and tear). Inevitably, anytime I loan a book out, it comes back with creases in the cover, breaks in the spine, etc., which is why I don’t loan out anything of importance to me. I found the whole thing very off-putting, but didn’t say anything because it seemed like anything I might say would be rude and come across as an over-reaction. When he finally joined us in the kitchen he made some comment about how maybe he’d “learn something about women.” All I could think was that he was only going to learn about one woman – namely me and my penchant for romance novels a little on the smutty side.
I guess my question is – does a houseguest have the right to just “check out a book” when the books are in the open hallway? Was Gary rude? He didn’t so much as ask and I felt it weird that he took a book that was clearly mine, when he’s not even my friend. Would any of you said anything - if so, what? Thoughts?