Borrowed time

Lending libraries are dangerous places. I don’t mean full of booby-traps, or even seditious libel, just that they’re vast, free, sources of reading material. I go in for the express reason of returning one book, renewing two others (non-fiction for reference, so I’m taking my time) and I’m seduced as I always am by the loaded shelves and whispering pages.

I borrow for reference, to study writing styles, because someone’s recommended it, because someone else said it’s rubbish, or even just to escape from my surroundings on a dull commute. Libraries are worse, in some ways, than second-hand shops: they don’t cost you a penny, it doesn’t matter if you give up after two pages because you can take it back and get another. Except it’s never just one. I sometimes wish they’d restrict how many I can borrow; I always leave with more than I can comfortably carry to the bus.

I left today, as I often do, through the adjoining art gallery where the doors looked broken but were perhaps only part of an interactive installation: I advanced with arm outstretched towards the large, hand-written PUSH taped to the glass, and the door retreated before me as normal. Just as well, considering the armful of books.

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