In March last year, a friend asked whether she could borrow my copies of The Hobbit, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes because mine are English-language versions.
Yesterday, I got them back.
I treat my books with respect. You can tell when my paperbacks are well read, through natural wear and tear, but I do not fold page corners to mark my place nor do I spill drinks over them or bend the cover or spine. In some books, I highlighted words I had to look up in order to improve my vocabulary, but I did so in the knowledge that they are my books and that this would ultimately simply show how far I’ve come as a reader and in learning foreign languages. I would never deface a book that is not my own.
My copy of The Hobbit is very precious to me (pun unintended, but quite fitting). It’s the very first book I read cover to cover in English. It’s the book I turn to for comfort. I read it once a year. It’s like a friend, sitting there on the shelf. The one that started my love for literature, that introduced me to J.R.R. Tolkien and some of my all-time favourite characters.
This is the condition it was returned to me in:
As you can see in the photos, page corners were turned, front and back cover bent in some places and creased in others and there’s a mysterious stain on the top of most of the pages, which I assume is a water stain.
This is definitely not the condition it left my flat in. This book has been to three countries with me and survived those 12 years better than a cross-town trip in my friend’s handbag!
I wouldn’t dare to treat someone else’s books this way! The other two books are in better shape, but I’ve made a decision.
My books stay with me, unless you actually are a librarian.