Wondering why the TSA has an interest in what you're reading?
Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Travelers might be surprised to find that the Transportation Security Administration may ask you to remove books from carry-on bags when going through security screenings.

This was the case with author Roxane Gay, who tweeted Wednesday that she was asked to pull out her books from her bag and place them in a security bin by the TSA.

A few other travelers have been tweeting about the surprising request in the past week, with some even mentioning that this happens to them frequently when flying.

“Sometimes, if passengers overpack their carry on bags and their bags are stuffed with too many things, it makes it harder to screen the bag, which is why a representative might ask the passenger to remove certain items and send them back to the X-ray,” Mike England, a spokesperson for the TSA, told Travel + Leisure. “In this case, they'll need to swab down whatever items they remove.”

One passenger wrote that he asked the TSA why they do this and was told that the procedure of swabbing down books is a “common” one.

The same policy may apply to e-readers in certain cases.

Although England said the policy is not specifically in regards to books, the TSA has caught travelers in the past using hollowed out books to transport everything from six-and-half-inch throwing knives to narcotics.