The Help Desk: Is my girlfriend having a novel affair?

Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to

Dear Cienna,

I love that my girlfriend is even more of a book nerd than I am. Whenever I finish reading a trilogy and need something new, she's always there with a new book for me to read.

But the problem is that she's recently started talking to her ex-boyfriend again, and she's been reading books that he's giving to her. It's making me pretty uncomfortable. It feels like they're sharing a secret or something, whenever they talk about books.

I've brought it up to her and she says that I'm being silly and it's just books. But I still feel jealous. I guess I should say she broke up with him because he cheated on her. Am I being silly?

Tristan, Montlake

Dear Tristan,

I understand why this new relationship feels a bit threatening and I applaud you for speaking up. I was recently put in the difficult position of telling a good friend that I was uncomfortable with all the attention she was giving her new "baby." I reminded her that there is nothing a "baby" can give her that I can't besides sore nipples but like your gf, my friend did not take me seriously, which is left me no recourse but to steal her "baby's" identity and ruin it financially. Perhaps then my friend will realize that I am the wiser emotional investment.

Stealing your gf's ex-bf's identity may be untenable or simply not worth it, depending on his credit history (baby credit is as pure as the driven snow). If this is the case, I would encourage you to take a deep breath and remind yourself that you can't control your gf or her friendships (and you shouldn't want to). Strong relationships are built on trust and a mutual pact to never get pregnant, so instead of focusing on her, scout around town for new bookworm friends you can make. Join a book club, go to readings, find others who can recommend great reads to you and vice versa.

If this gives you any hope – and it should – I recently met a very nice llama down the street who might be new best friend material. She's quiet and she's been fixed, which are the number 1 and 2 things I look for in a friendship. As a bonus, her body makes sweaters and if we ever get into an argument, I can have her euthanized. Maybe try dating a llama next time?

Kisses, Cienna