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Other People’s Books
by [?]

I have come to the conclusion that the only books which people are really fond of are those which rightly belong to other people. To them they are always faithful. They are faithful to them not in spite of themselves, which is the way with those “classics” which everybody is supposed to have read while they were young, and which most people only know by name, because they belong to that dim and distant future in which are included all those things which can be done when they are old–they are faithful to them for the reason that nobody wants to borrow them; they belong to the literature which people seek in free libraries, if they seek it at all. The books they really adore are those which somebody else has purchased. Nor are they ever old books. On the contrary, they are “the very latest.” You see it gives a room a certain cachet if it includes the very recent literary “sensation,” the “novel of the season,” which everybody is reading because everybody is talking about it. So they stick to the books which you yourself have purchased, under the fond delusion that what you buy is necessarily yours to do what you like with. Alas! you have forgotten the borrowing fiend. The borrowing fiend is out for borrowed glory–and few things on earth will ever stop the progress of those who are out for self-glorification. True, I once knew a book-lover who was not afraid of telling the would-be borrower that he never lent books. Needless to say, he had very few literary friends. But his bookshelves were filled with almost everything worth reading that had been published.