1. 1.Verbally acknowledge that you will treat my books with the utmost respect.

  2. 2.Send me a voice recording of you verbally acknowledging that you will treat my books with the utmost respect.

  3. 3.Do not harass my books in any way. This includes:

    1. a.Leaving them out in the sun unless instructed to

    2. b.Caressing their spines

    3. c.Grabbing the paperbacks by their cover flaps

    4. d.Stripping the hardbacks of their cover flaps

    5. e.Bending their pages

      1. i.See point #10 for clarification

    6. f.Licking any of your fingers, including your thumbs, to turn the page

  4. 4.You may read any of the Best American, Best Small Fictions, PEN American, O. Henry Prize, and Pushcart Prize anthologies as long as your return them to their proper shelves, organized by year of publication.

  5. 5.Do not ready anything by Roxane Gay.

    1. a.We both know you aren’t ready.

  6. 6.Organize my collection of literature by Frederick Douglass, including his biographies, first by year of publication, then by alphabetical order, then by the angle of his face on the cover, and then favorite to okay as noted by colored-coded post-it notes.

    1. a.The darker the blue, the more I liked the book

  7. 7.At 1pm, place The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen by the window to dry.

    1. a.There was an unfortunate accident with the previous bookkeeper who, after knocking over their glass of water, believed the rational decision was to find something to soak up their mess instead of rescuing the several books that proceeded to drown.

  8. 8.Mourn, reciting the provided printed eulogies, the loss of Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing and The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Wang to the devastating aforementioned incident before ordering substitute copies from IndieBound.


  10. 10.ALL pages are to remain un-dogeared. No triangles will crease any page of any book. Do not fold any pages in half, break the spines, write notes, highlight, or kiss any of the pages. Should you need to borrow a bookmark, you may find them in the second drawer on the right hand side of my desk, bound with a rubber band. Take one from the top of the stack.

    1. a.DO NOT browse through my bookmarks.

  11. 11.You are not allowed to touch the following:

    1. a.Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, 1st Edition

      1. i.This is the first book my mother ever borrowed, and eventually stole, from the library. The spine is broken and the pages are dangling by threads of duct tape so it’s best to let this book enjoy retirement.

    2. b.Black Boy by Richard Wright, 1st Edition

      1. i.Help yourself to the three other editions nestled on the shelves containing the works of Toni Morrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Edward P. Jones.

    3. c.Anything by Charles Dickens

      1. i.A Black Widow has decided to make her home within these books and prefers not to be disturbed.

  12. 12.Graphic Novels and Graphic Memoirs are literature and should be treated with the same respect as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, The Collected Poems by Langston Hughes, and Between the World and Me.

    1. a.If you don’t know the author of the last title listed, get out.

  13. 13.Organize my poetry books in alphabetical order and provide a list of any titles I’m missing from Lang Leav, Kwame Alexander, and Chen Chen.

  14. 14.Ensure ALL books by Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison are placed, covers facing out, in literary salute.

  15. 15.Place all collected works by Virginia Woolf in the basement by sundown and be sure to lock the door behind you.

  16. 16.Donate The Awakening, Catcher in the Rye, Dubliners, and anything by Shakespeare to Second Reading

    1. a.Don’t judge me.

  17. 17.Order the following titles:

    1. a.In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

    2. b.Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

    3. c.My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Vol. 2 by Emil Ferris

    4. d.Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

    5. e.Lakewood by Megan Giddings

  18. 18.This Life by Sidney Poitier enjoys spending long periods of time on the center couch cushion, undisturbed. Between setting The Sympathizer out to dry and locking the works of Virginia Woolf in the basement, return Sidney Poitier’s book to its proper place on the shelf.

  19. 19.Organize all YA titles in alphabetical order by genre, EXCEPT the YA graphic novels which, obviously, belong with the other graphic novels.

  20. 20.The blue bin underneath my desk contains the fifth and sixth copies of some of my favorite books. Don’t tell me what happens to them, just make it quick.

  21. 21.To the left of my desk you’ll see a cabinet. On the shelf beneath The Phantom Tollbooth, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the collection of Dr. Seuss books, and other titles from my childhood, is a manuscript covered in red stains and lime green post-it notes. Don’t touch it. Don’t read it.

  22. 22.Read anything by Poe after sunset.

  23. 23.Find my copy of Baby Teeth by Zoe Stage. I won’t spoil the plot for you but I started having nightmares after finishing the book and eventually gained the courage to hide my copy from myself. After some time away, I think I’m ready to read it again.

    1. a.If the Black Widow has it, it’s for the best.

  24. 24.Dust off The Odyssey and Moby Dick before placing them beside a photo of my father in junior high crying in front of his English classroom, the same copy of each book forming tents at his feet.

  25. 25.Should anything happen to one of my beloved books, feel free to seek advice from the previous bookkeeper.

    1. a.Should you find that you are unable to reach them, that’s all the advice you need.

K.B. Carle lives and writes outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the Associate Editor at Fractured Lit. and Editor at FlashBack Fiction. Her stories have appeared in CRAFT Literary, CHEAP POP, Jellyfish Review, Milk Candy Review, and have been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and the Pushcart Prize. She can be found online at kbcarle.com or on Twitter @kbcarle.

© 2020 K.B. Carle. Published by LITTLE FICTION | BIG TRUTHS, May 2020.

Editors: Troy Palmer, Beth Gilstrap & Alvin Park. Images from The Noun Project (credits: Sasha Sash).

The 2020 Flash Issue:



Notes for My Latest Bookkeeper 
Regarding the Maintenance of My Library While I’m Touring 50 Indie Bookstores in 50 Days