A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Library

Well, in the library – I’m terrible at titles. But there I was, queueing to return a slew of unread books (including, to my regret, a copy of Im Westen nichts Neues, aka All Quiet on the Western Front) when I noticed that the person two ahead of me was holding my book! Blimey, I thought, she’s actually taken the thing out. What’s more, I don’t know her! I wrestled with the idea of tapping her on the shoulder, gurning in a serial-killer-esque way, and asking her what she thought of the book, but since there were more than a dozen people around, I didn’t want to sound like an ego maniac, or scare the stuffing out of her. What would you do if an author accosted you in a public space and demanded a debrief?

Anyhoo, the thick plottened moments later: She handed the book to the young librarian, who scanned it and told her that the fine was £3.20. Interesting! I thought (and possibly said aloud). Could it be that she was so desperate to finish this gripping masterpiece of science fiction that she refused to return it, even though the deadline had whooshed by? Or had she thrown it over her shoulder in disgust one late spring evening and only found the bloody thing last night, jammed behind a heater?

The excitement, reader. The excitement.

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

9 thoughts on “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Library”

  1. No no! Letting people know you are the author of the book they’re holding is like bragging how much sex you get. Everyone knows, if you really got that much sex, you wouldn’t feel the need to brag about it. So, resist!

    Pretend you see people carrying your books all the time.

    Let them think you are a super-stud.


  2. Maybe your book appeals to slow readers. Don’t take this personally; I’ve read some glowing online reviews of my books that have clearly been written by people who might struggle with Dan Brown. But we can’t complain, can we, without sounding like Jonathan Franzen?

  3. You’re right, Martin. Next time, I’ll anounce, ‘Will I see anyone NOT carrying one of criticially-acclaimed books today? Hmm?’


    Quieter: ‘Sorry.’

  4. Hurray for slow readers, Tim. I worry that people read too fast these days, and gulp down all the nuances when they should savour them. Crikey – am I sounding like Franzten?

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