Once upon a time there was a book.
The book appeared sometime between the Christmas my sister left for Germany, and the Summer I sat my Junior Certificate exams, without any prior warning, introduction or presentation. It was in her room one day when I went on a routine snoop around the house, restless teenager that I was, friendless and desperate to expend my energies on anything that didn’t involve Maths or Business Studies spreadsheets.
I don’t want to mention titles or authors for fear of this becoming a review-like piece of writing, but despite it’s gloomy and untelling cover, this book was possibly the most incredible thing my young and impressionable brain had ever taken in. I say this whilst coolly glossing over the likes of Harry Potter, my copies of which were even then becoming dog-eared and tattered from overuse.
But this book was incredible. It was one of those can’t-put-down, mind-opening, read-in-a-day kind of novels that only find their way to you once in a blue moon, and stay with you for much, much longer. I’m fairly sure it was one of the first novels to ever have such an effect on me. I still remember a lot of the little details that made it so intriuging – clearly even the fact that I’m writing this about it now says it all.
I haven’t read this book in over 7 years, yet I am still willing to bet that it is up there with my top 5 of all-time.
Thing is, I can’t test this theory, because shortly after reading it and being exposed to the newness of such a thrilling read for what was possibly the first time, I made the mistake of lending it to a friend in school, and she has yet to return it. So excited was I to be able to share such an experience that I’m fairly sure I forced the book upon this particular friend, insistant that she read it and thus creating an outlet for myself to which I could express my love and fascination. I ignored the fact that she seemed extremely disinterested and agreed to take it purely to humour me.
I stopped asking after a week or two had she finished it. Or even started it. I gradually realised that my fascination with it was something that possibly would not be experienced by everyone, let alone someone I had forced it upon.
I was patient.
About three years later, finding myself at a bit of a reunion-gathering in this friend’s house, I completely innocently spotted the book in amongst a lot of other books on a shelf that looked like it hadn’t been touched in …well…about 3 years. Saying nothing, I wondered silently what to do. I hated the thought of an awkward conversation asking for its’ return, yet my rightful ownership and burning desire to read it again got the better of me.
‘Is that my book? Have you read it yet?’
For some reason, we laughed about it, and agreed that she could keep it that bit longer in the hopes of her eventually getting around to reading it.
That conversation took place a few years ago, and is the reason I’ve just ordered another copy of the book on Amazon. I’m looking forward to reading it again and seeing was it worth all the fuss!
I don’t mind lending people books – in fact, I quite like doing it, sharing any quality reads is really a nice thing to do sometimes. But I’ve started writing my name on the books that I actually invest in and buy, just in case they find themselves in the hands of someone who forgets where they came from.