Don’t let me borrow your books

Image: Glen Noble

You should see my Amazon wish list… Right now, I have 359 items on there, most of which are books.

There’s soooo much I want to read. Especially fiction. See, I have a severe handicap when it comes to fiction that I’m trying to overcome. I forget names extremely easy. Give me a book that has more than three characters, and I immediately start to get nervous. I’ll be feeling so good about the first two people. I’ll be following it just fine... Then the third character comes in, and it starts to get fuzzy. Wait — how is she related to him again? By the time character number four comes in, I’m totally befuddled. Like a waiter who’s carrying three plates just fine through the crowded restaurant when someone fires a dish towel at his face and he drops all three plates (and doesn’t catch the dish towel).

But non-fiction is my jam. There’s just something about learning stuff or hearing an actual, real life testament to something that suits me well (which is why I blog, I guess).

Anyhow, like most writers I know, I’m a voracious reader. It’s my indulgence. And I’m incredibly selfish about it. Like my dad who used to have three or four cigarettes lit at once, resting on ashtrays throughout the house, I’m the same way with books. Which is why I can’t stand when people offer to let me borrow a book. Now, I’m not mad at them or anything. It’s not them — it’s me. Because when you offer, I feel obligated.

What if I were to say no? Seriously, could I do that? “Yyyyyeah, nnnno, I don’t have time to read your book.” Or, “Ya know what, it’s just not really my kind of book.”?

So I’ll end up borrowing it. And then I’ll feel horrible when, a year later, your book is still sitting on my shelf, unread. Yes, you’ve forgotten I have it, and you don’t really care, but that doesn’t matter. Every time I see your book on my shelf, it reminds me of how much of a fake, disingenuous person I am.

But if I’m going to make my way past wish-book #359 (and growing daily), I won’t be able to read your book.

Okay, this isn’t an absolute rule. Sometimes I‘ll read it — especially if it’s a book that a personal friend has written (thanks, Robin) or someone asking my honest thoughts about a blog post, I most definitely will if I say so.

So, please. If you know any writers, think twice before offering them a book of yours to borrow. Sure, mention the book you have in mind to them. See if they’re interested. If they are, shoot them the Amazon link. If they really want it, they’ll pony up the $5 it costs to buy it used or the $10 to get the Kindle version. Or you can just buy it for them so they can read it at their leisure.

And if I have one of your books, let me know so I can send it back to you. Yes, I’ll probably lie and tell you that I read it. Then I’ll continue on to compound the lie and say that I made a note to call you and get it back to you months ago. But at least you’ll get it back.

What’s your address again?

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