Monday, May 31, 2010

Of Books and Borrowers

First line from the book that I'm reading: ( yeah, reading only now....and no prizes for guessing the title....)

In the beginning there was a river, The river became a road and branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry.

Recently, someone I know was ranting about his colleague who borrowed a book long ago and hasn't yet returned it. While this person was chasing him and hunting him down to have his possesion back, I know many others who would just wait silently or at best just drop weak hints clumsily and hope for the best. Me being one of them. Somehow, these episodes always reminded me of this anecdote by Stephen Butler Leacock

I find that some people just don't seem to take borrowing books seriously. Maybe it is in the genes; it is one more thing along with the sugar and coffee powder that we borrow and never return. While most books are expensive and it pinches when you lose them, there's more to it than just the money. Books are personal and most often they stand for more than just their contents. Some books mark a turning point, an emotion, experience, a person, a sentiment, an occasion.... many things... and I can't bear to lose them or see them treated shabbily. I even know some who don't part with their books - it is like a part of their soul. I can understand that - there are some books I would never lend. Having said that, I don't worry about giving my books to some very close friends because I know that they value it just as much as I do.

Innocent lenders beware! The 'Borrowers' spectrum looks something like this. Those who borrow and

1.Return in decent time and in good condition
2.Return the book in bad condition with a look of apology
3.Return the book, its deteriorated condition not bothering their conscience
4.Return after some polite reminders
5.Return after some polite reminders and annoyed follow ups
6.Lose the book but offer to replace
7.Lose the book and believe an apology will suffice
8.Lose the book and laugh about it like it is a joke
9.Have no intentions of returning
10.Deny that they ever borrowed a book from you
11.Borrow and disappear

Which ones have you met?

I've renewed and upgraded my membership with Book and Borrow. This arrangement suits me so well since the good libraries are quite far from where I live. I must say their service is more than satisfactory!


Jayashree said...

8,10&11 are the kind that I absolutely can't much so that these days, I am wary of lending my books to anyone.

PV said...

Have dealth with 1,4,5,9,10,11 - there has to be an effective way to bring such offenders to book !

utbtkids said...

Famished Road, booker prize winner. I have been wanting to read it, but off late I am finding it easy to escape in to kid's lit to avoid the 'realities' of life. Some how, after having kids, after becoming a parent, the demons that used to be far and distant feel not so distant. Digressing.....

To me it is (1) or nothing. I am such a book Nazi that people have stopped borrowing from me. Works perfectly well for me.

Uma said...

Jayashree - Me too! No wonder some people take the 'no lending-no borowing' stance!

PV - LOL! Good one :)

Utbt - Right! After the first line, I just got sucked into it :) That bit of 'digression' sounds very profound...
It should ideally be 1 or nothing, but sadly, it isn't

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ChoxBox said...

I am pathetic at lending books. Which is also why i am reluctant when it comes to borrowing - because then it wouldn't be fair if I didn't lend in return.

If I lend one - I will simply go and replace it wit a new copy and ask the person to keep the one they borrowed. So if its a book that cant be easily replaced, then I wont lend it.

Uma said...

Chennaimoms - my id is

Chox - I know a few friends who are like you on this one... some were born that way and the others adopted it after a few lessons...

The Print Lover said...

I haven't had a bad experience with books (probably because I borrow from the library mostly. So not much of a chance to lend to others). But recently, a colleague borrowed my DVD set of a favorite show and returned it with the cover all frayed :(

Uma said...

TPL - Oh, that's bad... we all say it is ok, just the cover but we can't deny that it leaves a bad taste, just a bit, but it is there all the same - isn't it?