The anatomy of losing books to “friends”

The anatomy of losing books to “friends”

By Gabriel Dinda

If you have one hundred books in your home library, you have probably lost books of the same quantity to you friends. First they pose as utterly trustworthy. And true, they could be-but not with books. When your friends pay you a visit, they find themselves browsing through your home library as you prepare them some tea. When you come back to the living room, they have probably decided on the books they will carry home.

Then the smiling stage starts. This is where they flatter you. They tell you how your taste in books is amazing and how your books must be why you are doing so well. At this stage, know that you are cooked. Because this is a scene set to scam you. The praises come thick and fast before the ultimate bombshell comes. “Naezaenda nisome hii nitakurudishia?” At this point, you are helpless. You have been showered with praise. You are almost not thinking. Coupled with their smile and trustworthy pose (at the time), you become defenceless. Your only option is to say yes. “Lakini utarudisha?” you wonder. The praises that had been heaped on you have acted to confuse you. You let your book go like that. And that’s the last time you will ever see the book.

Once the “friend” has gone with the book, the game starts. Having been praised, you will be so happy (unconsciously) that you will not remember to record it anywhere. Somehow, your mind will tell you that you will be able to remember the details of the person who borrowed it. After all, he is your friend.

The first strategy the friend uses (whether knowingly or unknowingly) is time. They take so long with the book that you forget. Considering that the world is so rich with many things happening every day, you soon forget or can’t remember who you gave the book. You will probably buy other books and forget that you ever had a book that you earlier gave your friend. The friend will probably not read the book; it will just be shelved to gather dust. In fact, the friends who read books (in most cases), remember to return. Those who don’t return are those who have books as a show of beauty or “class”. The friend uses the books as a virtual background when they are having online meetings. This is meant to show to the world about their reading culture, that in most cases is not as they want the world to believe.

Once you forget about the whereabouts of your book and your friend hoards the book or displays it for aesthetic purposes, the ownership of the book is slowly transferred to the friend. In fact, now the book “genuinely” belongs to them. Even if they remember who the owner is, they never contact or mention it in their conversations. The book has now changed property and she can “legally” lend it out- even before reading it. And that’s how you lost your book to your “friend” who posed like a trusted confidant who had your interest at heart.

The other scenario is of those who actually read the books. They borrow books and truly read them, probably within the time they promised. However, upon the completion of the book, they quickly transition to another book and “temporarily” put your book in their shelves as they await the ideal time to visit you and return the book. Normally, it is easy to arrange a visit to your friend when you don’t have their books than when you have their book. Even upon finishing the read, they become slow to visit. Your books start their stay at your friend’s on a temporary basis but soon end up being a permanent resident of their house. The story of the book is soon forgotten as another book(s) comes in to follow the same path. And again, that is how you lose your treasured books to your close friends.

It’s funny how none of the books you have lost can be found in any of your enemy’s house. They are all with your friends. And that’s why I wrote it as “friends”. I have since learnt that lending books should be on the same principle as lending money. Only lend out the money you have written off from your accounts. Actually, immediately you lend the money, forget about it. If it comes back, thank God. Otherwise, if you hope to get the money you lent out back, you will lose the closest of your friends and probably end up in hell.

Like money, forget about all the books you lend out. Especially, those you lend to very close friends. You can be more optimistic about getting back the books you lend to your enemies. It is cheaper to give your friend money equivalent to the price of the book to go and buy another copy than lend yours. If you give money, you will only lose your money, not calm. In case of a book, you will lose both and the friend.

Why do you borrow a book instead of taking note of the title and purchasing yours?


Gabriel Dinda is the Founder of Writers Guild-Kenya, a Centre for readers and writers working to encourage general reading and writing culture in Kenya.


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