Ten enemies of books, #4: absent-mindedness

I know I own a copy of The Hobbit, a nicely illustrated copy at that. My sister wants to borrow it for book club. I can’t find it.

I group my non-fiction books loosely thematically or by genre – myths & legends, humour, history. My fiction is even less organised but I try and keep all of an author’s books together. However, I don’ t own anything else by Tolkein.

It is somewhere in this house. Unless I loaned it to a friend, and both of us have forgotten? Perhaps I left it with my parents when I moved out of home and in subsequent moves it’s been lost. Perhaps someone broke into my house and only stole my nicely-illustrated copy of The Hobbit. I’m annoyed. Did I mention it was a nice copy? The loss also points to a failure in my systems, not to mention my memory.

This sort of thing happens all the time. (Not to me, mind, at least not so far). It’s why libraries have catalogues with location guides. But too much information about where or what things are is kept only in our heads – relying on fallible, traitorous, impermanent memory.

I can't show you a picture of my copy of The Hobbit because it is lost. Instead, here is a picture of a small wooden elephant. (Elephants are supposed to have good memories).