The Agony Arts team returns to solve more of your arts related problems and dilemmas! This month Amy has written in about a problem that is close to the hearts of all literature lovers out there. 

Dear Agony Arts,

I am deeply distressed by a problem which has recently arisen and caused conflict between myself and a ‘friend’. After raving about a much loved novel, my so-called ‘friend’ asked to borrow this book, in order to read it for themselves and see what all the hype was about. As a generous and generally agreeable person, I allowed my ‘pal’ to borrow the book. The problem arose when I tried to get the book back. First there were excuses, ‘I’ve been too busy to read it’, ‘I’m halfway through another book’, before they claimed to have ‘mislaid’ the book. After a two and a half month wait, I demanded my ‘friend’ returned the novel, which they eventually did. The second problem was the state the book – my favourite novel – was returned in. The pages had obviously been water-damaged, one was even ripped, the cover of a once pristine book was now tatty and worst of all the spine was BENT! I’m not sure how to handle this situation, as I see the person in question every day at uni – and worst of all, they are clamouring to borrow more of my books!! What should I do?

Amy Wilcockson

Hi Amy,

I know how hard it can be to refrain yourself from being outright angry and wanting to murder these ‘friends’ a little bit. However, getting angry is not the solution to this problem and will probably end your friendship for good. My advice is simple: honesty is the best policy. You can’t pretend to your friend that the way they treated one of your most beloved books is okay, because it isn’t. You have to just be honest with them and explain that the book you leant them was under the assumption that they would look after it.

“You can’t pretend to your friend that the way they treated one of your most beloved books is okay, because it isn’t”

I always feel that the more honest the better, explain to them why having damaged books bothers you and that they mean a lot to you, because if they are indeed a true friend they will understand and apologise profusely.  As to the other problem of trying to get a book back from a friend who it seems will never read it, I also think that being honest with them is best. Do not pretend like it is ok that they have the book forever, and if they take forever to read it, give them a deadline and tell them that if they don’t read it by then you would like the book back, and explain you won’t take it personally. It really is simple, try it out!

Larissa Rowan

Image credit: Jlhopgood via Flickr 

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