15 Mar Etiquette of Exchanging Books & Reading Together
By Wr. Gabriel Dinda
Other than betting, football and politics, we are happy to announce that there is a minority group of ardent readers whose existence is threatened by the majority who fall in the above categories. The minority group has been forgotten by feminists, the government and even the civil society. So, since this group has really been neglected, with no affirmative action or talk on the same, they have no rules to govern themselves. To ensure they survive, they have devised ways to survive amongst themselves and co-exist. One of such ways is to exchange books amongst themselves to save on cost. However, because of the neglect mentioned above, they have not been able to draft official rules to govern their co-existence. Regardless, even in the absence of rules, they still have expectations of each other as they exchange the books. The expectations are barely written, only written in their faces. Such expectations include:
1. I expect it back
Every time someone gives you a book, this is what they are saying silently; ‘please ensure you return it’. However, we haven’t done well with this. Nearly all my books which I have given out haven’t been returned. This happens even when you employ other measures such as threats and intimidation. I think it is high time the government came up with an agency called ‘Borrowed Books Collection Agency” to help collect books which have been borrowed and hoarded. I am also not seeking justice with clean hands, there are some books I have been given and I haven’t returned. This I greatly apologize for, and sure, I promise to improve. To reduce chances of heartbreaks relating to unreturned books, perhaps you could attach a premium like; ‘I never give books, I only exchange” or that you only lend books upon payment of an amount. When you do this, at least, the other person will also have some pain of not having their book or money at the expense of yours. This is the same principle applied in dowry payment. And in that, it has worked, so even here it could work.
2. Please cover it.
When someone lends you their book and it is not covered, they are silently telling you to read it and cover it. Even though they can’t mention this out rightly, this is what is hidden in their forlorn smile. Most of us, again are quite guilty in this, because we just find it enjoyable to read the book and return it as it was. This is not fair. If you look at polythene bags in your house, there must be one which is transparent and can be used for covering. Please get a stapler and cover the book before you return it. I am not sure if using a newspaper to cover a book is 21st Century enough. I did it in Majiwa Primary and it was the best way then. That’s a small way to say thank you for someone who has generously shared the knowledge with you.
3. Please use Bookmark. Don’t fold pages.
How fun does it look to read then when you get to a page, you fold it, so that it can guide you next time you get back! But how demeaning is that! Imagine if a book is read by 13 people all of whom have the habit of folding pages as they read along. How will it look like? Do you see what I mean? Juxtapose this with someone who uses a bookmark, leaves it in a page and picks from there when they resume. Which one tastes better for you? When I give you a book and you fold it as you read along, then you are not considerably different from a terrorist, who plots to kill 3,000 people in a place of worship. Both of you belong to the hottest part of hell.
4. Please read it.
Some people borrow books for the purpose of borrowing. Once they have the book, they take lots of its pictures and posts them on Social Media with captions, ‘My current read’. Or they take aerial selfies with the book to show that they are also ‘readers’. Kumbe, it is millennial to be a reader. I didn’t know. However, in actual sense, they never read. Or they read one line, in the introduction, and then post it on facebook, keeps quoting it in conversations to look ‘learned’. Such people, their main intention is not to read, but to ‘show’ that they are reading. If you are one of such people, first rethink your strategy and your definition of ‘learned’, then second, ensure you read the book. It’s really not a must to talk or post about every book you are reading. If you are reading, we will just see it in how you relate with us.
5. Discuss the book with me.
As you read the book, and you find a striking line in the book, please send me a text message and tell me how you feel. If it is a lesson you have learnt, thank me for my kindness to help you with the book and how it has helped you. That way, you encourage me that I didn’t make a wrong decision in giving you the book. You also encourage me that we could read together moving forward. And this way, you remind me of the contents of the book. At least, this will give me another reason to help you with a book next time, other than for the only reason of pity. This way, I will also be sure that indeed you have read the book.
6. Do a review.
Once you have finished reading a book, it is only human to do a review of it and either post in your social media, send to the owner of the book, or share with others who might find the book interesting. This way, we create a community of readers, those who can talk about something specific like football fanatics do. Do you know that, football fanatics even discuss rumors, of who is being transferred where, and which coach will be laid off. Imagine if book lovers could be speculating on the books to be released in the year, or the contents of the books to be launched. Won’t this be just lovely! But it starts from creating a community.
And lastly, do not photocopy a book, it is not good for writers. And even PDF, feel guilty sharing and reading them, they deny writers a fortune. Just ensure that whichever format you get the book in it is a fair one. Remember, just as you have a budget for food(nourishment for the body), a budget for tithe(nourishment of the soul), have a budget for books(nourishment for your mind).
And once you have a budget, ensure you read at least a book in a week and see if your IQ will remain the same. If you don’t have people to read with, I volunteer to be your reading partner. My email is attached below. Okay?
Let’s talk: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Photo Courtesy: Magunga Bookstore/Editing by Wr. Verrah Omwocha)