I lend books. I'm okay lending books. I lend to my friends. I lend to acquaintances.
My library is even catalogued in the sidebar of my blog so you can take a look around and if you really want to read a book and can come by and pick it up ... yes, you can borrow it.
Most of the people who borrow books are fine and return them relatively quickly and in good condition.
I'm happy that I lent the book because it gives me warm fuzzies of the heart and wins some new friends for my favourite authors. It gives the book an occupation, and it feels happy about giving someone pleasure instead of having to skulk around on my shelves in the company of authors it probably doesn't like.
But I am sentimentally attached to the books I love, and feel very upset when friends don't return them.
And frankly I'm not good at asking for them back. When I do ask, I sometimes get a scowly snarl, a blank stare, the excuse "I haven't finished it yet," (months afterwards!), or a story about it having been passed to another friend or significant other who is so deeply into it that they can't bear to return it yet.
Sometimes I get an outright denial that the person has borrowed the book even though I have recorded the loan in an exercise book. And even though the book has my name and the words:
Each Book is precious, please returnstamped on the flyleaf.
The worst case was when a colleague asked if she could borrow Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient after hearing me go on about how good it was.
I lent her my copy and it didn't come back and didn't come back and every time I reminded her about it, she said impatiently "Yes Yes," but the book still didn't appear.
After asking her again several times she snapped at me "I can't find it. it must be somewhere in my study. I'll look it out when I have time."
As I so often do in these cases of books not coming back, I decided to write off the loss and buy a replacement copy. But since the copy was a gift from another friend, and I had enjoyed the feel and weight of it in my hand I decided to buy the same edition. A first edition of, of course, of a Booker winner.
I nearly died when I looked it up on Amazon and found that a replacement from Abebooks would cost me £100 even without the postage.
I sent the ex-colleague the news in an email. She ignored it.
I consoled myself by buying a manky paperback edition and told myself not to be so bloody materialistic.
Some of my books I know will be returned soon. Some will take a while but will come back. Others I will probably never see again.
Sometimes that's not really an issue as I won't read the book again, or I can pick up another copy at Big Bookshop or Skoob, sometimes it is a big sentimental heartache of a deal. I have at least one book unreturned that fits into that category. ("I'll have it back to you in a week," said the borrower some months ago.)
Well, I have decided to do some chasing up so don't be offended then if you've had my books a while and I call you up for them to be returned.
And meanwhile you can share your stories about lending and borrowing books!
(P.S. I seldom borrow books because I am very very bad at giving them back myself.)