Last year, my friends could not lend me a book because I just didn’t like borrowing books. Not that I could afford and find all the books that I want, not that I don’t respect their recommendations, but I felt that I needed to own every book that I read and will read. This is because I fear that I would not be able to let go of the lent book if ever I love it.
But this has changed somehow. I now borrow books, but I still want to own the books that are on my must-buy list. I think this book borrowing started when my bookish friends recommended The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. Seeing that it’s only a short read and knowing that it wouldn’t be on my must-buy list, I gave it a try. I ended up liking the book, but yes, I have to return it. I made a mental note to buy a mass-market paperback for my own copy, just so I would have a solid proof that I read the book, which doesn’t really make any sense because majority of the books that are on my shelf are unread.
As months went by, a couple more books were lent to me, which are Brokeback Mountain and A Single Man. I love these two books. I wish I have copies of them, and had I been my old self, I would have immediately bought copies for myshelf, I mean, myself. I couldn’t find any copies so I put them on my mercurial mental notes.
There are also our club’s books of the month. I will never read some of them had they not been selected. If the book of the month is not on my must-buy list or is not easily available at used book stores, borrowing is a convenient option. Some of them that I borrowed are The Little Prince, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (my copy is elsewhere), Jellicoe Road, and The Historian.
The first three are rather short reads, but the last one is a real doorstopper. Before, I wouldn’t allow myself to borrow a thick book lest I get too attached, but I just did. The Historian just hit a personal record of being the longest book that I borrowed, which is saying something from a person who used to be a reader only of the books that he owns.
I got to thinking that even if I love a book, I most likely will not return to it anytime soon because there are just too many books to read. I rarely reread a book, and I mostly do it on audio (the rereading). The only book that I reread on print is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro not because I love it (and I do) but because I had to lead a discussion of it.
I still have a stack of books that I borrowed (and will borrow), and I think there will be more soon. I don’t think though that I will become a notorious book borrower, but this change could mean a lot of things. I’m becoming any of the following: pragmatic, erratic, broad-minded, unsentimental. Which is which?
So how about you, what is your stand on borrowing books?