Thursday, 24 February 2011

In which the library looks a little lean

One of life’s great joys, along with tankards of gin and finding out that the new shoes don’t give one blisters, is the discovery of a thoroughly great book.

One recent lunchtime, I happened to be browsing in the nearest Waterstone’s (with my leaving date imminent, I’m allowing myself to – gasp – leave the office in my lunch hour), taking in the smell of books. Much as I love the thud of an Amazon package landing on the mat, there’s nothing quite like being able to browse: I’ve unearthed many an unheard-of gem in bricks and mortar bookshops that I would never have discovered on the pages of the internet). It was as I tore myself away from the cookery books before I spent the mortgage money and stood instead in front of the racks of novels that I was reminded that far too many of the great books I love are no longer in my possession.

That evening, a quick scan of Late Granny’s bookcase, currently in what’s euphemistically termed the ‘spare room’ but should more actually be called the ‘room where I keep all the crap that doesn’t have a home anywhere else; laundry; and Christmas decorations that still haven’t made it to the loft’, revealed some desperately large gaps in the collection.

Just from what I can remember, my library is currenly sans the following:

Lolita – currently with Curable Romantic (whatever preconceptions you might have about this, put them aside and read it. It’s darkly hysterical)

The Graduate – The Metrosexual (this disappeared at uni. It’s not coming back)

A Brief History of the Dead – The Metrosexual (ditto)

Polo – Best Mate (I’ve told her that, from my experience, it’s best read either in the bath with a glass of red wine, or laying under a parasol in 35° sunshine in a leopard-print one piece for that real 1983 vibe)

The Hidden Oasis – Best Mate (to be fair, I’ve specifically told her she MUST keep this. Think Indiana Jones written by Dan Brown, with any archaeological and historical accuracy sucked out. It was a proof copy given to me by the publishers: even if the plot, writing and characterisation hadn’t been enough to finish me off (which they were), the horrid, horrid errors in punctuation would have. She loves it, but – as the holder of an MA in archaeology – in ironic fashion)

Letters Between Six Sisters – Best Mate

Riders – The Redhead (she’s only had it a week, and I shall refuse flat out to take it back until she’s read and LOVED it. Never thought I’d be such an unashamed evangelist of the bonkbuster. But there we are)

One Day – Speckled Lad

American Psycho – Speckled Lad

The Quiet American – Speckled Lad

The Go Between – Speckled Lad (sensing a theme?)

Of Love and Hunger – Speckled Lad

Women – Speckled Lad

Lady Chatterley – Speckled Lad

Scoop – Speckled Lad

Bel-Ami – anon (but I can’t find it, and refuse to believe it’s languishing in a Tunisian hotel somewhere. I do wonder whether Speckled Lad has it)

Hangover Square – Speckled Lad

Shake Hands with the Devil – anon (probably some poor soul in my final year African politics class at uni who’ll also want to open a vein at the sheer evil that mankind is capable of – by doing nothing, as much as anything else)

Notes on a Scandal – The Aunt

The Post Birthday World – Liver Bird

On Chesil Beach – Best Mate’s mum

One I’m not going to admit to owning – Liver Bird

I don’t particularly mind – after all, if there’s a book you’ve loved enough to lend, then it’s only right that someone else should get to fall for it too. PolitiGal’s mother is of the opinion that you should only lend a book if you are prepared to give it away anyway, so PG takes it for granted that, once lent, a book’s not coming back.

Which is just as well, as I have one of hers that she lent to me at some point last June that I’ve still not finished, let alone given back.

And, of course, lending things out creates space to buy more. Well, with all those empty shelves – and all those free lunch hours – it’d be rude not to.


HC said...

I'm making my first tentative foray into the world of audio books this week. My eyes tend to go to sleep on the journey home so I let my ears take the slack. Seems to be working so far but there's a very limited list of books to choose from.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

My copy of Polo is so embarrassingly well-thumbed (spine missing, the lot) that lending it out would be to show someone how many times I've read it.

I also got a message from one of the girls who stopped talking to me the other year, saying she would be returning a book I'd lent her. I couldn't even remember which one it was. But clearly having my copy of "Never let me go" on her shelf was too guilt enducing to bear. It arrived on my porch a day later.

Will said...

Someone has my copy of Bel Ami. Grr.

Hannah said...

I'm pretty sure that if you took the archaeological and historical "accuracy" out of a Dan Brown novel, you'd create a black hole.

HC said...

How did I miss you bringing out the leopard skin one piece again?! Classic Blonde.

The Pedant said...

Just slightly off-topic but I have a recollection of you asking for good blogs to add to your reader list recently. If you're not already, you could do worse than follow the absurdist she queen, here -

Amy said...

I love lending out books, but I am VERY particular about getting them back. I tend to reread and if I like the book enough to recommend it and lend it out, I want it back.

The only exception to this is the Twilight series. I bought them to see what the fuss was about and then lent them to a friend with a similar curiosity. When I gave them to her I believe my exact words were "Please take these ridiculous things off me and never give them back. Burn them if you have to. Just don't let me see them ever again"

jman said...

Sounds like it would be cheaper to buy SL a Kindle.

Blonde said...

HC: I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and say that you don't drive to work.

PDEWYMO: Good work. That is exactly how a Jilly should be. Mine's all crumply from being dropped in the pool.

Will: Oh, that's annoying. Thanks for that recommendation, by the way. Cracking book. Utterly unconvinced by R-Patz casting for the film.

Hannah: Never a truer word was typed, my friend.

HC: Attention to detail, my friend.

TP: Ooh, great recommendation, thank you.

Amy: It's definitely a very personal thing, lending out books. What's your hit rate like with getting them back? Any tricks?

Jman: Hah! Brilliant. You might be onto something there...

theperpetualspiral said...

Nothing beats a good book, especially ones that you enjoy going back and rereading time after time.

I do occasionally lend a book to someone, especially if I have have sung its praises. My simple rule is that if I don't get it back then I don't lend again to that person.

May I suggest you try The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón next time you are browsing the shelves in your lunch hour.

Blonde said...

TPS: That's a good rule to have. And one I have clearly not followed. Now, your recommendation: I read The Shadow of the Wind, and was (apparently singularly) unimpressed. How is this one in comparison?

theperpetualspiral said...

Crikey Blonde, make it a real challenge to recommend a book why don't you?

I enjoyed SotW but The Angels Game was far better (in my opinion). It is very rare that I find myself so completely engrossed in a book that I never want it to end.

It is a masterpiece in story telling and I found that I quickly became enthralled in the story, the characters and the descriptions of the buildings / city.

The Pedant said...

If it's book recommendations you're after then I can suggest two that I suspect you won't have read (only because neither of them is at all well known).

The first is Thursbitch by Alan Garner ( and the second is Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (

Jack The Lad said...


Where did your copy of The Junior Officers Book Club go? I bought and read on your recommendation, I did enjoy it and have passed along to someone else who enjoys military accounts and biographies. I think that Mr Hennessey as gone into the Law when he finished with the army, maybe he would do a similar to the JOBC for the Law.

Blonde said...

TPS: Sorry about that. I am, apparently, fussy. I might just look up the Angel's Game. Thank you.

TP: Ooh, they both sound interesting, thank you! Book recommendations are always, always welcome.

JtL: Sadly, it was never mine - a loan from Speckled Lad. Hennessey is, I think, now in Human Rights law. Quite whether it's as thrilled-packed as an Afghan tour, I don't know!

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