Friday, 24 June 2011

Confessions of a hoarder


Hoarding books is a hobby of mine. I have books from the 70s, 80s and 90s, spine-creased, worn, torn and tattered but still loved. No matter how hard I try to let go of them, just like redundant boyfriends, I simply can’t part with them. I have my Enid Blyton collection neatly packed away just in case I want to read ‘Five Go To Smuggler’s Top’, the Mallory Towers set to fondly remind me of my school years, and The Secret Seven, in case I feel like indulging in a little detective work. And there’s the Nancy Drew collection, in case I suddenly aspire to be like Nancy and want a few tips from her on becoming a heroine. And the crème de la crème is my Anne of Green Gables box set which was purchased in America – my pride and joy.

It’s not just my own books I hoard. On one or two occasions, I’ve borrowed books from friends only to conveniently ‘forget’ to give them back. I innocently add them to my collection. On several occasions, the friend has simply not pursued the case of the missing book. Others have said: ‘Just keep it, Gillian. Don’t worry, I’ve read it.’ Now I don’t know whether they were just being polite or not, but I always took this at face value. Samuel Beckett’s More Pricks Than Kicks springs to mind as a borrowed book. I’m don’t think a kleptomanic, honestly. Or am I? No, I always ask before borrowing.

However, I’m the person who, when staying in a hotel, will trawl the room to see what I can get away with ‘borrowing’ – from the robe to the nice shower gel. In cheap hotels, they appear to fasten the large shampoo bottle to the bathroom wall, and guests have to make do with a few pump action shots! How unfair. I prefer the establishments which let you ‘borrow’ the Molton Brown bottles, soaps and shower caps. Confession – I still have the sewing kit from a hotel in Mauritius. Have I ever stolen books from hotels? No. Not even from a hotel in Prague which boasted a rather robust library in which one could browse freely.

But I do love to hoard and often refuse to share just in case the friend genuinely forgets to give me it back. That would hurt me a lot. It would be like losing a child. If someone asks me if they can borrow one of my books, I’ll politely forget once. If they ask a second time, I’ll hand it over, but closely monitor the situation until it’s handed back. What’s the most appropriate time frame to expect a book to be returned – one week, two weeks, or for the slow reader, two months? I have a huge collection but please don’t ask to borrow any of my books as your request may well fall on deaf ears.

6 comments:

MorningAJ said...

I think borrowing a book and not returning it is a bit like stealing someone's child. I just wouldn't do it. And I have actually ended friendships with people who turned down page corners on my books.

Anonymous said...

I believe all books should be held as common property. No single person can own a book; that's like trying to own the wind. Help yourself from my shelves and I will gather from yours. Books stay a while with one keeper and then they move on, when they are ready.

Gillian McDade said...

Oooh - turning down pages is the work of the devil!! I would go mad if someone violated one of my books in this way. Get a bookmark, people!

Debs Riccio said...

I actually left a book in a Tuscan villa we stayed at as they had a simple 'library' there.I put a message inside saying how much I enjoyed the book and hoped the next reader did too - left my e-mail address - like a message in a bottle/on a balloon type thing. I like to share. And I think 6 months is a pretty decent time to keep track on a borrowed book, I'm not afraid to demand a polite return! And turning a page down? Oh yes, fold away... I love reading a book that is already earmarked as it makes me wonder how the last reader felt when they got there... breaking spines, notes in the margins, the works, books love to be loved!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

I love the idea of leaving used books on seats in the park, or anywhere public, as a kind of gift to the 'right' person.
But I HATE lending my own precious books...
Susiex

EmmaH said...

Glad to know I'm not the only stingy book lender on the planet. It annoys me how other people treat books as casual possessions - I've even known them disappear without anyone even bothering to ask first!