Do you ever let someone borrow a book that really matters to you? Reader conedison asked this excellent question in our Tips, links and suggestions blog recently. The vanishment of borrowed books is one of the worldâ€™s mysteries, only comparable to lost pens â€“ where do they all go?
From Books editor Claire Armitstead:
I used to be a reckless lender, but Iâ€™ve grown wary over time. One friend died before he could return a favourite book, another moved house and sent her entire library off to Oxfam. Nothing to be done in those circumstances, though I have been known to resort to guerrilla action: on one occasion, when I had agreed to feed a neighbourâ€™s cat, I managed to â€œliberateâ€ three books and a video which the neighbour swore she had returned or never borrowed.
Guardian journalist Emma Johns reflects on how scarring lending experiences can be:
When I was at junior school, Lloyd Alexanderâ€™s Chronicles of Prydain were my favourite books. I loved them so much I decided that when I was a grown up my children would be named Taran and Eilonwy after the lead characters. In my teenage years, reminiscing with a best friend about the books we would happily re-read from our childhood, I had gushed about The Black Cauldron and The High King and begged my friend to read them. I can still remember taking them into school in a carrier bag and pushing them into her hands with evangelistic zeal. It was the last I ever saw of them; whenever I asked if she had read them she said â€˜not yetâ€™, and when we went our separate ways at sixth form I forgot to ask for them back. I bet she still hasnâ€™t read them, and even the thought of it gives me indigestion.
Last night my youngest daughter whoâ€™s leaving the country for her gap year asked me if she could take with her my copy of Stoner [by John Williams]. Actually, she asked her mother to ask me on her behalf, figuring it would be harder for me to say no to both of them. I went into my daughterâ€™s bedroom, told her it was ok and then she asked me if she could make pencil marks in it … the horror, the horror.
ItsAnOutrage2 shares their caution, but proposes a system for dealing with awkward requests:
Now itâ€™s your turn. Share your stories in the comments, and weâ€™ll add a selection to the piece.