I love to read, but isn’t there something so melancholy about sliding that finished book back onto the shelf where it will wait who-knows-how-long until you pick it up for another go? Solution: lend it to a friend! I have found that lending out a good book greatly increases my enjoyment of it. It’s also wonderful to be lent a “must read” by someone dear. The reading process is so quiet and internal, and I love that about it, but there is a richness added when you can share your reactions to that other world with someone who’s traveled there too. So here’s my current lending library status (though I’m sure I’m forgetting some that I have loaned out) along with brief reviews.

Books I’m Lending:

Alice I Have Been, by Melanie Benjamin (lent to my mom) – My favorite historical novel of the moment, this story left me spellbound. Alice Liddell sounds like such an extraordinary person and I had no idea that Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson) was a mathematics professor at Oxford. I am now re-reading Lewis Carroll’s complete works to see if I can take away anything new.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow (lent to my mom) – A fascinating novel about racial identity and stereotyping. The main character, Rachel, is the daughter of an African-American G.I. and a Danish woman. When a family tragedy lands her back in the States with her black grandmother, she finds herself being defined by unfamiliar prejudices and struggles to be “black enough.”

The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game, both by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (lent to Ginny) – I can’t praise these two novels highly enough, especially with their literature-loving characters. In The Shadow of the Wind, the main character is a bookseller’s son, and in The Angel’s Game the main character is an author, and though it came after Shadow it takes place years before when bookseller is a young man. And, of course, both feature the mysterious Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett (lent to Kimmee) – I couldn’t put this one down and will probably re-read it as soon as I get it back. Set in Mississippi in the 1960s, the diverse and spunky cast of women shines light not only on the race issues of the time, but also on conflicts regarding gender roles, social classes, and generational expectations.

Books I’m Borrowing:

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe (lent by Ginny) – I just got this one on Friday and started it at breakfast this morning.

The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux (lent by Kimmee) – I have had this one on loan for about a year now and still not cracked the cover. Shame on me. I was fortunate enough to see the musical last year and wanted to read the book, but I guess not bad enough.

Beginnings, Middles, and Ends, by Nancy Kress (lent by Phyllis) – This is a fantastic book on writing and I would highly recommend it to any writer. Confession: I have my own copy now (different edition) but still need to locate my borrowed copy, which is in a box in my basement somewhere since I moved last year. Sorry Phyllis, I promise it will be returned soon!