Tag Archives: Library of Lost Books

Missing Books

You run your fingers along the spines of your shelf where you book should be and find – the book has gone. It’s a gone book. Somewhere there is a library of lost books, perhaps in the same street as the laundrette for single socks; opposite the museum of lost contact lenses; and the newspaper reporting on people who lost their hearts.

All those books, where are all those books? How have they come to be gone?

Not on the shelves

221 Well of LThe Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall. Writing a post about banned books I went to my shelves of novels, to look for the green spine of my copy of the Virago classic. I read the book I am sure in the ‘70s. But it was missing, although a friend was able to lay her hands on her copy when I mentioned this a few days later. Perhaps I only borrowed it. It’s a book I should have on my shelves, a classic. What else is not on my shelves?

Gone from the library

Virginia Woolf in Manhattan by Maggie Gee. I wanted to read this book because of the title. I like the idea of a novel about a novelist, and especially of one as revolutionary as Virginia Woolf. I reserved it from my local branch of the county library. A week later I received this email.

Dear Ms Lodge,

I’m sorry but the copy of

Gee, M Virginia Woolf in Manhattan

Which you requested is missing. As this is the only copy on the catalogue I have had to delete your request.

Unforgiveable, a library user in Devon has failed to return the service’s only copy of Virginia Woolf in Manhattan. Check your shelves Devon readers!

Not in the shops

24 Sussex, Ottawa

24 Sussex, Ottawa

What are you Reading Mr Harper? by Yann Martel. I posted about this book a couple of weeks ago. I planned the post after reading of the fall of Mr Harper and his Conservative government in the Canadian General Election. But the book was not available from my usual sources. In the end I went to the subsidiaries of a well-known on-line company that sell second hand books. My copy arrived from Switzerland. An international affair. And what has happened to all the books that Yann Martel sent Mr Harper, more than a hundred of them. Have they gone back to Calgary with Mr Harper? Or are they in cardboard boxes in the cellars of 24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa?

Lent but not returned.

And then there is the category of books that go missing because they were lent to a person posing as a friend who never returned them. Is that what happened to The Well of Loneliness? Annecdotalist mused on this topic on her blog in November in a post called Never let me go: the dilemma of lending books. She lent Never Let Me Go and, yes, it has not returned. She writes movingly about the betrayal of trust, the damage to a relationship if the book is not returned. And has a word or two for those people who don’t ever buy books.

Not exactly given away

193 Bees coverThe Bees by Laline Paull. This is a new category, discovered when my book group was deciding what to read in 2016. My daughter revealed that she had my copy and overheard to say ‘it’s mine now.’ Not so much given away or lent as adopted, taken over. I need to check her shelves of course.



About missing

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. In this book it is people that are missing, a sister and a friend. And Maud is losing some of her marbles as dementia progresses. It’s a very successful debut novel, that treats an older woman with great respect. I reviewed it in the series on older women in fiction on this blog.

Not yet written

In my half century of writing I have imagined so many novels and written so few. I began a few. There was the as-yet-untitled saga of a large family who lived in a lighthouse in Brittany. And there was the adult feminist novel featuring Megan and her struggles in a life of discrimination against women. And not even started, the memoirs of a book obsessed reader.

Not yet finished

And then there is the novel I have drafted, but need to produce a second draft. And while I am not revising the first draft I am writing, with two others, a book on ageing. This book is scheduled to go to the publisher in March and then I can return to the novel.

With all these missing books, it’s fortunate that I have a tbr pile that extends for two feet along my shelves and continues as a file of scraps of paper waiting to be obtained from the shops or the library (or perhaps by underhand methods). On with the reading.

Explore the wonderful website: Library of Lost Books

Any books gone missing in your life?

Please subscribe by entering your email address in the box. You will receive emails about future posts.


Filed under Books, Libraries, My novel, Publishing our book, Reading, Virginia Woolf

Art made out of books?

Don’t write in books – except with a very soft pencil and then erase the marks asap! Don’t turn down the corner to mark your place! Don’t draw on the pages! Don’t break the spine! Don’t cut the pages!

I’m not sure how or where I imbibed these rules, but they are very strongly embedded. My sister says she often can’t tell if I have read a book, because I only open it a few centimetres and peer between the pages. I am still shocked by the American woman who turned back the open pages of my Tuscan guidebook, so that for ever after it fell open at San Gimignano. And by my friend who took a blockbuster to read on holiday, and tore it in half because she only wanted to reduce the weight of her hand luggage.

It was something of a thrill to experience books as the medium of the artists’ works on display in the exhibition: Beyond the Book: an exhibition of artists who use books as their medium. I’m not sure what I expected, but I was moved by the first exhibit, called The Book Shop.

93 bookshopThis little scene was created by Su Blackwell, who also co-curated the show. It is about 15” X 10” ( 36cm X 22cm) and is made from ‘Deconstructed second-hand book in wood box with light’. In the booklet to accompany the exhibition she says

Using a scalpel, I carefully cut and fold book pages to craft intricate scenes evoking both childhood and possibility. New and unexpected histories and realities emerge through my alterations of the physical form and structure of the book. By producing books which combine a sense of loss and longing with playful humour and innovation, I simultaneously question and assert the importance of the weight, texture and design of the book in the digital age.

A scalpel, used on a book? On my! But I love the wit, the detail, the idea of making a book shop from a book.

And what about Ellen Bell’s creation, called On Reading?

93 On Reading

I love the red shoes. It’s made from ‘Child’s desk and two chairs with Penguin Book butterflies and tap shoes’. Looking closely you could see the familiar orange covers of old fashioned Penguin Books cut into the shapes of the escaping butterflies. Like the book shop I am transported back to childhood, to that sense of books being the path to other worlds, escape, sample the mysteries of adult life. (For me it was ballet shoes, but I understand the red tap shoes.)

93 Sew circleHere is an embroidery hoop made by Yvette Hawkins, entitled Sewing Circle. Many needlewomen will recognise the embroidery hoop at its structural core.






And another creation that explores language, written text and human responses is Drifting Attention by Jonathan Mathew Boyd.

93 drifting

I saw the exhibition at the Devon Guild of Crafsmen Gallery at Bovey Tracey, where it is on show until 8th June 2014. It then moves to London to Long and Ryle, in John Isip Street from 12th June – 17th July 2014.

If you are interested in books as objects of beauty you might also want to visit the website and blog of the Library of Lost Books. It reports on a project to rescue old library books, salvaging beautiful, old and unwanted books and sending them out to artists. ‘They come back re-made into things of beauty and wonder…’

Or if you can’t afford the price of the originals, you can buy made-from-books stuff at The Literary Gift Company. Among other things they have a page of ‘books made into things’.

Or you could buy a book about making art from books – if that’s not too self referring.

Update: having seen Norah’s earrings on twitter I add my Dutch Tintin brooch as a wiity little follow on for this blogpost.

93 Tintin br back 93 Tintin brooch

If you want to receive email notifications of future blogposts please subscribe by entering your email address in the box at the top of the column on the right.



Filed under Books