Books That You Would Never Lend?

photo (5)Just before to leaving school and throwing my hat into the canal, my English teacher presented me with a long list of books that he said I must read.

Half-way through, I came across The Dud Avocado, by Elaine Dundy. At that time, neither book nor author, were well known, but oh – I just loved it. It’s so funny and clever and heart-liftingly brilliant, and still my favourit-est book ever.


So, sixteen years later, with the book now well-thumbed and out-of-print, I was faced with my wonderful, unselfish sister-in–law asking to borrow it, for a holiday read.

I immediately felt shifty – (I don’t come out of this well) – huffed and puffed and tried my best to put her off, but in the end, grudgingly, I handed it over

So, the book was in a holdall in the back of the car, outside a French hotel. There was a smash-and-grab and horror of horrors, my precious paperback, (out of print! irreplaceable!) was now lost  for ever. And serve me right, too, you might say.

After ages of high-and-low searching, I managed to get hold of a second-hand copy and now that the book’s been reprinted, I keep spares – you know, just in case.

photo (6)Several years later, we went to the South of France, with my husband’s five siblings and assorted infants, travelling in convoy.

I’d never camped before; I was forty-six. At the first stop, after trolling up and down fifty or so steps, loo roll under arm, I lay on a narrow cot, watching flies circle overhead and thought – oh help, it’s like Tenko! – the TV programme about a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp for women. Ging Gang Goolie? No, thank you.

Then my sister-in-law (same one) gave me a copy of The Republic of Love, by Carol Shields, another quirky, funny, wonderful book. Outside our tent, next to lakes, on beaches, crossing the Pyrenees, my nose was buried in its pages.

It was the beginning of another love affair, with another author and books that I just don’t like to let out of my sight.

What are your absolute favourites? Do you ever let them leave the house?



Posted on June 10, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Ooh June I feel for you. Thank goodness you managed to find another copy! I’m heading off to work but will have a good think about this one 🙂

    • Thanks for finding time to even think about it, Sharon – I’ve been reading your blogs about work. Hope it’s a good day!

  2. A truly interesting post June. In spite of losing your favourite book, you managed
    to make the story amusing.
    Loved it.


    • I wasn’t very amused at the time, Cathy. Still feel a bit guilty about that! I can’t imagine you getting irate about the same thing, either.

  3. thenewromantics4

    I have now adopted a ‘no lend’ policy for my books. Folds arms, looks cross and won’t be moved. I let someone (who I thought respected books) borrow Hons and Rebels – Nancy Mitford and the Shell Seekers – Rosamund Pilcher. The first came back split down the spine and with the pages all out of order, the second was left on a Cornish beach. Being a trusting soul, I then loaned Regency Buck – Georgette Heyer to someone quite recently, having related the tale of my damaged books before I handed it over. This book was very precious to me having being bought for 3/6 with my pocket money in the sixties. You guessed it – returned with the spine split, pages out of order etc. So if you want to read one of my books, go and buy your own copy. The Lamb Lending Library is officially closed.

    • Ooh, Lizzie. That’s the way to do it. Are you still speaking to any of those people? I can’t imagine wanting anything more to do with someone who ruined three different copies!

  4. Margaret Cullingford

    June, What do I say about your being too nice? Lucky for me no one has ever asked to borrow my teenage passion, the Claudine series by Colette, so I’ve never had to go into spoiled-brat mode over them. Recently, a book I enthuse about to anyone interested is Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture, but I’m sure as hell not going to lend it out. Never came across Dundy’s The Dud Avocado. Must be good if you love it so much. May I borrow it?

  5. Sorry, Mags – wonderful comment, but nary a copy is leaving this house. Have to say, I wouldn’t dare borrow from you or Lizzie ever again, either. Secret Scripture sounds interesting – especially recommended by such an unmitigated heathen!

  6. Great post, June. I’m very much with Lizzie. I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve leant out and either not had back or received back ripped or coffee-stained. I even had a situation where said borrower tried to foist upon me a different book in return!! I would still lend books out but let’s just say I’ve become a ‘Choosy Briggy’ about who I lend them to. xx

    • Love the Choosy Briggy, Jan! Seems we all have long memories and bear grudges. I didn’t even mention the people who say I haven’t lent them a book, when I’m cast-iron certain I did!

  7. I’ve never heard of Dundy’s The Dud Avocado either, June. The trouble is that people expect to borrow books rather than buying them – and that’s the author in me coming out!
    What does incense me is if I’ve lent a book to someone and they’ve obviously read it while eating their lunch – and left the evidence!

    • I love hearing that we all feel the same, Margaret! Dinner stains!
      ‘The Dud Avocado’ was published around 1956 and seems to resonate with a lot of people (my age, anyway!) Elaine Dundy went on to marry Kenneth Tynan.

  8. I love it that we’re all so incensed and passionate about our books, and yes they are soooo precious to us! My favourite, non-lendables are too numerous to mention, but Margaret Kaine’s comment chimed – as a newly publishing author, I just give a watery smile when told, ‘oh I loved your book, I’ve passed it on to three sisters, four sisters-in-law, one granny, ten aunties et al!
    PS June’s far too nice…we all know that. x

    • Thank you, Adrienne! I love the watery smile response, although I can’t imagine it coming from you. Non-Lendables – what a brilliant new category.

  9. I also now have a no-lend policy. Relationships have been strained by the non- or late return of books. You never look at those people in quite the same way again.
    Another pet hate is when – ahem – parents give away books they thought you’d finished with. In my adolescent horsy phase, riding lessons were too expensive for them to be as regular an occurrence as I’d have liked, and I knew even the dream of having my own pony was out of the question. But… I got 40p a week pocket money (this was a long, long time ago) and as chance would have it, that was the exact cost of a paperback pony novel by the likes of the Pullein-Thompsons, Ruby Ferguson etc. They were my pony. I kept them all in a shoe box in the tallboy in my room, and there they stayed after I went away to uni etc. Years later, my daughters were at the ‘horsey’ phase, so I thought they might like the books. I looked for them on our next visit – to find they were gone. Turned out my parents had given them away to the girl who lived next door.
    “Well,” they said. “She’s horse mad.” Worse was to come. “She has a pony. She rides it in gymkanas and wins rosettes.”
    *Takes a deep breath and calms down*
    Btw, Mags, Secret Scripture is excellent. Don’t lend it to anybody!

    • thenewromantics4

      Hi Lilian, totally get your ‘no lend policy’ I guess we’ve all had our fingers burned by ‘friends’ promising they’ll look after our books if only we’ll lend them. Of, course, from an author’s point of view, a book which is loaned out means one less sale. I used to read the Pullein-Thompson books as a child because my Mum’s friend always gave me one for my birthday/Christmas. I must say that they weren’t quite up my street but I did love the covers. The first imprint of Jilly Cooper’s RIDERS was very much along those lines. The subsequent editions were much sexier.Parents giving your books away – tell me about it. I saved up for a copy of John Lennon’s An Author in his Owen Right (can’t quite remember the exact title but my parents gave that away to someone e’s’s daughter without asking! Ouch. This things still hurt !!

    • Hello, Quiet Writer. The pen name sums you up, perfectly, Lilian – quiet (and very successful) writer!
      What a heart-rending story. How could you forgive your parents? It’s like the beginning of those serials I used to read in Bunty.
      That’s two strong recommends for Secret Scripture – must look it upi

  10. I have a copy of Little Women, it was given to mother in 1953 by my grandfather. I will never let it out of my sight. I love the book, and the fact it was a precious gift from a man of few words. 🙂

    • That really is precious, Glynis. A real treasure.To think that both your mother and grandfather read from those very same pages – what a wonderful thought.

  11. I LOVED reading this! I’m a bit of a flirt with my ‘keeper’ books (they’re on Pinterest in that I seem to have a few! My four fairy rating on my blog warns ‘Buy it but be loathe to share your copy … it’s a keeper!’ I don’t lend my keeper books as I’ve been burnt quite a bit in the past with a non-return (despite assurances from the borrower). So no, I don’t lend my keepers! Shaz

    • thenewromantics4

      Must go over and check out your Pinterest board, Shaz. Pinterest is great fun, isn’t it? But I sometimes forget to keep adding to my boards. Maybe we should start and ‘name and shame’ board for those who hang onto our books. Or return them in a bad state. Funnily enough I hadn’t come across the expression ‘it’s a keeper’ until fairly recently. I need to get out more but keep my books safely at home!!

    • Thanks for the comment, Shaz. I like the word ‘keepers’ – sounds much more friendly and polite that ‘non-lenders’! Love the idea of flirting with your faves on Pinterest, too. Look forward to checking them out.

  12. I lend books willy-nilly – and do grieve for some that don’t come back. I wondered whether to keep a little book of books I’d lent out, but never quite got round to it. But books are there to be read – and maybe it’s better that they’re passed round rather than sitting on my shelves looking bookish.

    • thenewromantics4

      Hi Jo, thank you so much for popping over and commenting on our blog. I started putting those Ex Libris stickers in my book and people still didn’t return them. Harsh as it seems, I think the only way to be sure that yur books come back is never to lend them in the first place. Sorry about slight delay in replying this post got lodged in the pipework !

    • This is what worries me, Jo. I want to be generous-hearted like you, but can’t quite manage it. P’raps it’s an only child thing! I have to say that we didn’t have books in our house, when I was young – except for 12 huge volumes of Arthur Mee Encyclopedias, and I would willingly have given them away to anyone.

  13. Just popping by to assure Quiet Writer won’t ever lend Secret Scripture to anyone. BUT if I don’t keep it chained down, it may find its way into some charity shop when the Tedster is in time-to-get-rid-of-a-few books mode

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