I am pretty much an eBook reader these days, but at one time I wasn’t. I used to have a ginormous collection of books – taking up many, many bookcases in my small apartment. But I loved my books. I might have mentioned it before but I was not one to break a spine. I never read a hardcover with the dust jacket on. I liked (and still do) my books pristine.
But every once in a while a friend or family member would ask to borrow one of my books. Always with the promise to treat them with the same respect that I did. Swearing to return them to me in the same condition in which they were borrowed. Yes, I had high standards, but I couldn’t refuse my friends and family a chance to read a marvelous book, could I?
Especially since I had those book plates in the front assuring me of their return. What could go wrong you ask? Oh so much.
Now, I have only a handful of books, all my books are electronic and so if I receive a book, I’ll just pass it along. That way I don’t have to bear witness to the traumas that might befall my most precious tomes.
So from less painful to most painful, here are the top ten reasons I stopped lending. What are yours?
10. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. Lent to a friend. She moved out of the country taking my book, along with a favored hat and sunglasses. Quickest way to end a friendship.
9. Misery by Stephen King. Lent to a friend. She left it at a diner and the busboy tossed it in the trash. No, I did not want the return of a gravy encrusted paperback.
8. The Shining by Stephen King. Lent to a friend. She accidentally dropped it in the night dropbox of her local library along with her library books. Book was never to be seen again.
7. The Hellfire Club by Peter Straub. Lent to a friend. Dog used it as a chew toy. That would be the beginning of my screening process for lending to people with pets.
6. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Lent to a friend. Found it resting comfortably on the top of the toilet bowl tank. Did not ask for that one back. Also got a bit TMI about said friend.
5. The Dark Half by Stephen King. Lent to a friend. Decided that the best place to put the blender for making margaritas would be atop this book. Learned that book smarts don’t always equal common sense.
4. Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz. Lent to a friend. Fell asleep reading in the tub. Book met with a quick but bubbly demise.
3.White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Lent to a friend who accidentally dropped it into a puddle while boarding a New York City bus. There is just no saving a book soaked with NYC gutter water. I’ve seen the things that float in those gutters.
2.Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Lent to a co-worker. She was a book lover too. She, of course, took the dust jacket off while reading and did not break the spine. But sadly left the book on the coffee table and klutz that she was, tripped and dropped her tuna fish sandwich (with mayo) on top. No amount of cleaning would erase the greasy smear. And though she tried to hide it with the dust jacket, the scent of tuna could not be dulled. Vegetarian that I am was not too pleased.
And the #1 lend of horror award goes to my father! (Sorry dad!)
1. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Lent to my father. Decided to use it as a pillow whilst napping out in the hot sun at the lake. I never knew that sweat could seep through an entire paperback. Oh, but it can, and it did. Although a book return was attempted, a book swollen to twice its size that would no longer lie flat was not a book I wanted back. Although I dearly love my father, that was the last book I’ve lent to him.
Please note that yes, I had a lot of Stephen King books, but I am not sure if quantity is the main reason so many were damaged, or if it was simply a bad omen regarding Mr. King…
And yes, the book list may not seem very cohesive, but I’ve ordered it by horror/destruction and not by time period.
Of course these were not the only books destroyed. This is just a sampling. Other instances involved PB&J, the ocean, bird poop, left out in the rain, left in the garden, fell into the pool, maliciously destroyed by friends’ brothers, lost, graffitied and an unfortunate instance of keep-away and a pile of doggie-do.
Can you top this? What are your horror stories in the world of book lending? I would so like to know!