Sunday, November 8, 2009

What Comes Around...

I lend out a lot of books. It brings me super satisfaction to hook up a reader with the perfect read.

The winning pairs have been an old family friend and The Future Housewives of America, my cousin and The Alchemist, my daughter and Mandy, my aunt and Patty Jane's House of Curl. There was also my son's teacher and Possessing the Secret of Joy. And my college roommate and Like Water for Chocolate.

For some reason, it's easier for me to match literature to females, but successful relationships have been formed between my brother and Godless, an acquaintance and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, and a doctor and Freakonomics.

On rare occasion, someone will give me a book that fits perfectly, like a pair of shoe orthotics that are between being nicely broken in and too worn thin. These have included Pobby and Dingan from my sister, Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You from Christy, and, though I hate admitting it, Four Blondes from my husband. Because I read a lot/teach English/write, I guess, well-meaning people are always loaning me literature they think I'll love.

But as you know by now, I'm a tough critic.

When someone asks to borrow one of my books, I am both eager to lend it and doubtful; I want to be sure it comes back. After writing my name prominently on the front cover, I stress that the book is one of my favorites, to please return it. I know: anal. I always remember who has my book, when I gave it to them, and whether or not it's returned.

You know where this blog is going.

Yep. Someone jacked my beloved The Shadow of the Wind.

Here's how it happened: in June 2007, my kids were in swimming lessons at the park. I had just gotten back the Gothic novel from my friend, when a colleague noticed it laying on the lawn, and took interest in it. Said Colleague is a professor of literature, from Europe, with a fetish for all things foreign. I couldn't believe he hadn't heard of the book. It was such a fit! I handed it over with much enthusiasm.

And have waited a year and a half to get it back.

I've missed that $14 book. Since I gave it away, I could've lent it to other readers a hundred times over.

I've hinted at needing the book back, even flat-out demanding. No luck. Though I'd like to, I can't imagine forgetting that Said Colleague has my book stashed away on some shelf, buried by dust. Excuse me while I grab a tissue.

Recently, a funny thing happened. I was (early) Christmas shopping at a big gift store, when Said Colleague sauntered over, wearing the store name tag. He explained that he was moonlighting during the holidays, earning extra cash for some hefty wish lists. He'd be happy to give me his employee discount card, he said. I could save 30 %.

Of course I took him up on his offer. He had my cherished book hostage, remember?

With the employee discount, I pocketed a $14 savings.

Guess what I did with it.


Heidi said...

I felt your pain with the loss of Shadow of the Wind, what a truly wonderful book! I also appreciate the books you have matched to me over the years, with The Alchemist being the all time favorite of course. I enjoyed this tale of books, thank you!

Jennie Englund said...

Thanks for being part of the story, Heidi!