Lent Books Returned

Some say that there is no such thing as loaning a book; you should simply consider that you have made a gift. We do not have many memories from age 7, but one of them involves the loan of Kipling’s Just-So Stories to a friend (son of a minister!), and the acute disappointment of realizing that the book was never coming home.

Christoper Morley’s amusing book The Haunted Bookshop addresses the joy of actually having a book returned:

“I give hearty and humble thanks for the safe return of this book, which having endured the perils of my friend’s bookcase and the bookcases of my friend’s friends, now returns to me in reasonably good condition. I give humble and hearty thanks that my friend did not see fit to give this book to his infant for a plaything, nor use it as an ashtray for his burning cigar, nor as a teething ring for his mastiff. When I loaned this book I deemed it as lost; I was resigned to the business of the long parting; I never thought to look upon its pages again. But now that my book has come back to me, I rejoice and am exceedingly glad! Bring hither the fatted morocco and let us rebind the volume and set it on the shelf of honor, for this book was lent and returned again. Presently, therefore, I may return some of the books I myself have borrowed.”

Now that’s a happy man!