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.