This week’s question left a little scar on our psyche. It reminded us of a bad moment in book history and provoked a spirited conversation about generosity or miserliness.
Simply, do you let people borrow books?
Do you let anyone, friends or lovers, borrow books? Or do you confine certain books to a mental cabinet of untouchables that no one but you is allowed to read?
Before lending a book do you note how friends or loved ones handle books, weighing whether they are trust worthy to borrow a work? Or are you a throw caution to wind lender, not worried at all about the state of the book upon return.
For the most part, the Boston Book Bums team are generous lenders, with a few being cautious. One however is a flat out book lending Scrooge.
Our eldest Book Bum had an experience back in High School where a friend was DYING to borrow a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The owner was a little hesitant to lend the book because the would-be reader wasn’t exactly the most voracious consumer of the printed page. Also, said would-be reader had a habit of being very messy. The idea of the beloved science fiction book buried under heaps or burger wrappers and empty soda cans was off putting.
Despite the concern, our lender handed over Hitchhiker’s. And then spring became summer, became fall and still the book wasn’t returned. After a few gentle proddings, the lender asked…”So…did you finish Hitchhikers?”
Reply, ” Uh, no. Couldn’t get into it. But it’s in my car if you want it back.”
With lip bit, lender nodded and the pair walked over to the friend’s jalopy. Door opens. Tension rises. Lender imagines a dusty but undisturbed book emerging from the glove box.
No, instead The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is PRIED from between the front seats. Wedged between the center console and the passenger seat, the great comedic novel emerges with torn cover, dozens of crumpled and folded pages; as well as a distinct and overwhelming odor of coffee. Yes, the book was soaked in Dunkin Donuts iced coffee somewhere along that long summer car ride.
That moment. That besmirched book was pivotal in making one of the Book Bums vow never to lend a book again. A vow he has stuck to ever since.
Al right, let’s hear it- Are you a one woman/man library or an alligator armed book lending miser?