The woes of a bibliophile

The woes of a bibliophile

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

Most of my family and friends know that I’m an author and most are aware of my book collection. Sadly, the proud bibliophile in me has given most of my favourite books a prominent place in my showcase, which doubles as my bookshelf. The moment someone enters my room, they see my book collection, with the bestsellers all looking down their haughty paperback and hard-cover noses at them.

Now with such a prominent display, people are tempted into borrowing. Groaning inwardly, I nod, hoping that the person returns the books back into the glass-fronted bookshelf and that none of my books interest them.

Some bold souls do pick up a handful of books and sweetly ask me if they can borrow them. Not wanting to appear rude, I agree. I hand out a few bookmarks. They get the message, that I’m not in favour of my books' pages being dog-eared.

These bold people are also the slowcoaches, one can go on a world tour and return before these people are halfway through the books. Or perhaps these people live in the hope that if they delay the return of the books, they can keep them forever, as I will most probably forget about it. Not happening in my case. My close friend has lost half her book collection people like this.

I have a tendency to haunt people who borrow my books. I’ll call them, drop them a message and ask about my books whenever I bump into them. After a quick greeting, my conversation starts with my polite queries into finding out, albeit in a round-about way, when these people will return my books. My question, “I hope you are enjoying the book/s?” Which often elicits the response, “oh, I haven’t even started it yet” A panic grips my heart, and when the person says, “I hope you aren’t in a hurry?” the panic builds.

With expertise that would put a con man to shame, I say in my most nonchalant voice that my family member didn’t enjoy the book. An alarmed look enters the borrower’s face. Who wants to be stuck with a boring book? Within a few days the book/s are back in my shelf.

After years of reluctantly lending out my books, worrying about the book’s safety and shadowing people with polite reminders, I have finally learnt how to overcome this. I started putting on display, the thickest books that no one in their right minds wants to borrow. Seeing these voluminous tomes, most people give my book collection a royal ignore. Problem solved!

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