Thoughts: Book Lending

I continue to read posts about book lending and how people find it extremely stressful to lend their books to their friends, or about how some people refuse to lend their books out. The reason is usually pretty understanding, to a point; people who borrow books often don’t take the same level of care of them that the owners would like. Many people who spend their money on books take great pride in keeping their books in excellent condition. Many book owners have pet peeves about books – they don’t want cracked spines, dog ears, coffee stains, or worse, writing in the pages. I still don’t understand who does that to someone else’s book.

And then there are the people that don’t return borrowed books. I have had that happen a few times, its awkward. I had to keep saying “Oh, did you remember to bring back my book?” then “Please don’t forget to bring my book when you come over tonight” then “Hey, sorry, but can you go put my book in your bag right now so that you definitely bring it with you today because I really want it back.” Things like that have happened just a few times. I usually resign myself to the fact that if I lend someone a book I will never see it again. I have a great friend who is a great book borrower, but that still didn’t stop her thermos from opening inside her bag and ruining my copy of The Great Gatsby. I could easily go and pick up another copy, but it’s been two years and I still haven’t.

I guess the thing is, do you want to be someone who lends books but will sometimes have them come back in bad shape, or just never come back at all, or do you want to keep your books in perfect condition but never lend them out? I only lend books to friends, and to be honest most of the time it’s because I personally want them to read the book so that we can talk about it. So even if my books come back tatty or not at all at least I’ve had fun with my friend and gotten to see their reaction to the book. I like it when that happens.

I think another factor is that I crack the spines of my book when I read them, and a lot of them are second hand anyway so I don’t always buy them in the best condition. I have a copy of the Wizard of Oz from 1949, it’s not in the best shape – but I just thought it was so cool to find a copy that old. If a spill in it then it might just add to the books history.

What about you guys? Do you share, do you tell your friends to check out the local library, or are you the book borrower that everyone seems to have an opinion on?



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