A Passion for Books

“The moment a book is lent,” writes Anatole Broyard, “I begin to miss it. According to T. S. Eliot, each new book that is written alters every previous one. In the same way, each absent book alters those that remain on my shelves. The complexion of my library, the delicate gestalt, is spoiled. My mind goes to the gap as one’s tongue goes to a cavity. My security is breached, my balance tipped, my affections confused, my barricades against chaos diminished. Until the book is returned, I feel like a parent waiting up in the small hours for a teenage son or daughter to come home from the dubious party….”

“The most dangerous part of lending books,” he goes on to say, “lies in the returning. At such times, friendships hang by a thread. I look for agony or ecstasy, for tears, transfiguration, trembling hands, a broken voice — but what the borrower usually says is, ‘I enjoyed it.'”

I enjoyed it — as if that were what books were for.”

One Comment

  1. Suzy Edwards

    Ah – some of my most painful losses have been books lent to friends, who then forget to return them. I don’t like to seem miserly about anything, but I have come to the point where I hate to lend a book. Sad. Good words should always be shared.

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