Monday, 2 May 2016

Why I'm tempted to NEVER lend a book again

I'm one of those geeks who keeps a list of books I've read, audiobooks I've listened to and films I've seen. I no longer keep a diary. I shredded all the diaries I possessed after my second anxiety/ depression episode and felt a hell of a lot lighter and freer as a result. Those journals had become an indelible tie to the past that reminded me far more of bad things than good things and living in the present was difficult knowing they were about.

My book of books etc is different. I do a lot of different crafts and I often find that thinking of the books I was reading/ films I was watching etc at a certain time also trigger positive memories of quilts or gifts I was working on at that time too. These are little pointers to the past that I don't mind so much as they are about things actively done rather than states of mind.

Anyway, around the 1st of each new month, I have a look back at what I was reading etc this time last year and the year before that. A couple of years ago I was listening to Sourcery by Terry Pratchett, and I took a moment after registering this to have another little sad mourning thought that Sir Terry is no longer with us, coupled with a sense of gratitude that he HAD been with us and written some very entertaining stuff. So, Sourcery is now on order from the library so I can enjoy it again. 

Two years ago I re-read The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I don't actually have a list of my top 10 short stories but I'm thinking perhaps I should start one as this would definitely be on it. I read it first as a teenager, I think on the recommendation of a favourite English teacher, and it was one of those rare stories that I started over and read through again after I'd finished it. Great, I thought. I fancy re-reading that. 

I have, over the years, bought three copies of this. The first was as part of a compilation, Daughters of Decadence, edited by Elaine Showalter, which is a book I would recommend to anyone with an interest in women's studies and early feminist literature. I lent this book to someone at university I believe and never got it back. The second copy was one of those special Penguin editions, I think, that they released a least a decade ago for 50p. I lent that one to a work colleague and didn't get it back. The third copy I bought in a charity shop, and yep, you guessed it, I lent that one too. I didn't remember this until I went looking for it on my shelves yesterday and discovered it missing and was unable to recall who I had given it to.

I have now bought my fourth and hopefully final copy, this time on Kindle. No way I can lend out that sucker now!

This is the second book in a couple of weeks I have realised I no longer have in my possession. If you are a reader, you will empathise with this. You lend a book, you forget who you've passed it too, and it never makes it's way back into your loving arms. And then there are times when you do remember who you gave it to and they emphatically state you have never given them this item, that they've either never seen it before or that the copy on their shelves is theirs. I once had this happen, and when I was left unattended by her bookshelf I simply put it in my bag and took it back home with me without a murmur. Is that passive-aggressive? Probably. And before anyone gets worried that I was possibly confused and stole a book let me assure you that I had picked up this book in a charity shop, one of those that tardily uses non-peelable labels to mark the prices, and there was the label on it. I would not have taken it had I not been 100% sure.

The cure for this thorny problem would be to simply not lend books out to people but again if you are an avid reader you will know how difficult this is. When you've been transported by a book, lifted up, carried away, you want to share that amazing experience with others. You want to give them the same respite from an often dull, unpleasant real world that you have had.

So instead I'm thinking I need to keep a small notepad and pen on my bookshelf at all times, attached with string and sellotape, and note when books leave my sanctum. Scribble down who is temporarily fostering that particular book and also get their signature/ a clipping of their hair/ vial of blood - something that gives me proof should they then blithely deny all knowledge.

I also think a label of some kind would help. I was originally thinking something like 'This is my book, asshole, and you better return it to me!' but then there is always the chance that a book of mine will end up in a charity shop one day and I doubt they would appreciate the bad language. Also, just that phrase alone is not very identifying. Someone could be going through their books, find it on the shelf, see that message and be unable to track down who had let them borrow this book. And also why they would have borrowed a book from someone who considered them to be an asshole.

So any label would need to be distinctive in that people would know it came from me, threatening in tone but not offensive. Well. Not as offensive as the word 'asshole'.

I thought this kind of thing would do the trick:

Or this:

Everyone who knows me knows I have a particularly lemon-faced, scowling little ginger cat who is nicknamed Grumpy Noo and Pissyface amongst other things. They'd see her zombified (top) sneering (bottom) little mug and know who to return the book to. 

Finding a font was hard! There are no threatening fonts in my Microsoft Word choice so I have gone with a Wild West looking one. That was a time for vengeance and tracking down of people to seek bloody frontier justice. Also, Microsoft, FYI your grammar check tried to turn the 'your' into 'you're'. I think you need better grammar advises (hastily checks blog post for grammatical errors, can't see any but knows SOMEONE will locate something).

I should round this post off with an acknowledgement that as a rule I do get my books back, in good time and in good order. Well done, responsible friends/ relatives/ in-laws! One kind friend even wedged a chocolate in between a couple of pages though by the time I got to it it was not in a state where even I would have scrapped it off and eaten it. 

A sister of mine once returned a DVD neatly broken in half but at least she returned it and didn't take it to Cash Converters as she has done with DVDs of mine in the past. This sister is one I don't lend books to, in case you were wondering.

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