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A. S. Byatt on Not Lending Books

I have to confess that I no longer lend any book ever to anybody. Because it is exactly the book you most love that you feel you might lend to somebody. And it never comes back. It just never comes back. … There are so many books in my life that I couldn’t bear anyone to take away that I can’t quite think of it in my head what they might be because, in fact, the ones I most love, like, say, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, are also much the easiest to replace if somebody, by any chance, goes off with your copy. But when I was teaching at university, I used to, as it were, analyse the book in the front cover. So any copy I have ever taught, has got all my own, as it were, mapping and structural analysis in. And if anybody takes that even out of the shelves, I tremble with anxiety. And it’s true that the most honest people do walk off with books.

(A. S. Byatt, BBC World Book Club, March 2004)

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