Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Discussions: Do you let people borrow your books?

I'm a rare breed of book buyer. I obsess over the books I buy. When I go into the bookstore, I look for all the copies of the book I'm interested in and begin my thorough search. Which ones have ripped covers? Which are smudged? Which have bent flaps? After I've selected the book with the least imperfections, I proceed to read with extreme caution. I don't even open up the book all the way for fear of bending it.

Basically, what I'm showing you here is I'm a book perfectionist. I paid money for that book and I want it to look brand new, even after I'm finished with it.

Which brings me to my question of today. Do you let people borrow your books?

You'd be surprised to know that, yes, I do. But that's after a thorough assessment of who they are and how they treat their own things.

See, I've lent and lost before. And I still know who has my things and never given them back.

So now I only let people I know well borrow my books because they are each little doorways that sent me to fantastic worlds. I want to remember each of those worlds by brushing a finger over their spines. I can't do that if someone destroys them. Because I'm not lending out the books that don't wow me. If I'm handing over cargo, it's precious. It's the stuff that blew my mind, made me want to become a better writer and stuck  with me so much that I am dying for someone to talk to about it.

So if they do destroy my book and buy me a new one, it isn't that I won't appreciate it. But they aren't returning my book. The book that granted me passage into worlds unknown and made me feel things I didn't even know were possible. It's a bond that even I don't quite understand but one that I cherish.

I currently have three books out on lend. Two, I know are in good hands. And one, a very precious novel called The Hunger Games, is with someone I barely know and who I'm not sure will take care of it. (Mind you, it's a first edition of The Hunger Games too). My hubby assures me it's safe. I still have my doubts.

So my answer is that I do lend books. Just hesitantly and with much trepidation. For me, the joy of sharing something I love outweighs the fear of losing something I love. Which is why I pack off my babies and send them out into the world!

What about you? Do you share books or tell people to go get their own?


  1. I definitely lend my books out, but only to people who I either know well, or who are very generous with their books when it comes to me. Most of the books I have, I've gotten at used book sales, swapped on, or I've gotten them from pubs so I'm not spending a lot of money on them. There is only one person who is allowed to borrow my prized books, and she's very good about keeping them in good condition :)

    Anna @ Literary Exploration

  2. I have no problem with lending my books out to anyone who wants them but sometimes it backfires. I'm willing to take the chance though.

    This isn't a reassuring story at all, haha, but I lent out my Hunger Games over a year ago and still haven't gotten it back. Usually all my books are returned in good condition though!

  3. I don't lend my books at ALL! No way Jose! I'm a book perfectionist too :)

  4. I had two copies of Hunger Games and lent out the one that I wasn't worried about keeping too nice. As for other books, if they're mine, I don't lend them out. I want them in perfect condition and I had too many experiences in HS of lending out books (okay, only three experiences, but three too many) when my books either weren't returned or were returned in crappy condition.

  5. I will share my books quite frequently. I can't tell you how many times I've loaned out my copy of Twillight. I am just happy that I can share the experience with someone else and then I will have one more person to discuss the book with!

    I've had my own instances of people having to replace one of my books because something happened to it. My thought is that as long as they do replace it, I will lend out to them again.

  6. I'm very similiar when it comes to books and keep very good care of mine, though I didn't always use to. I love lending people stuff and sharing something, but it's difficult if I'm also worried about what happens to the stuff I lend out, which is the case with books.

    I recently had the brilliant idea of purchasing the German edition of two of my favorite books to lend out to others. Since I really don't like reading translations and I know a lot of people who have difficulties reading books in English, that seemed a good way to share those books and not feel to attached to them at the same time.
    So for at least those two books that's my solution.

    I often do lend books to one of my best friends who is an avid reader and that works fine though.

  7. I think that in some ways we are opposites. I hate it if a book looks totally brand new. If it is dog-eared and ripped, in my opinion, it's LOVED, not ruined - as long as it's readable. That being said, I often follow the same guidelines as you for others borrowing my books. They have to be responsible and trustworthy, along with having respect for books.

  8. It depends on how much I love the book. In general, I'm a perfectionist at most things and I'm not much of a sharer. People know I expect my books to be returned in exactly the condition they were given. For some books though I'll go extra psychotic and expect nothing but a perfect book with no creases or anything when returned, but other books I'm more relaxed about.

    I've never had a book ruined or lost by a friend. What I do have are friends that take months to read a book. Some girl took my book on vacation for months and I don't know where it is right now. That's what annoys me about sharing. I'll probably never offer to give her a book again unless she expressly asks (*ahem*begs*ahem*) for it.

    So I sometimes share. And I rant a lot too. ;p

  9. I'm a total perfectionist too. So I only lend my books to people who I know would take really good care of it. But I don't neccessarily say no to someone who wants to borrow my book if I don't no how they're going to take care of it. In that case, I just get another copy for them to read. I really need my copy to remain perfect! :D ...Great topic Amber!

  10. I only lend out my books to a select few people whom I know will look after them... They're all book lovers and they treasure their own books as much as I do - I HATE creased spines! I occasionally give people one chance but if it comes back ruined they'll never get to borrow anything again... It may sound harsh but I totally get what you mean about having to have the exact same book you read back! Having a new copy just isn't the same ;)

  11. I only share my books with two people. A friend who I've known her whole life and her mum haha. I know they love books as much as I do and I therefore know that my books aren't going to be returned in any condition but the one they left my house in.

    I do the thing at the bookshop too of going through to find the one with the least bends etc. I think most people do though.

  12. I'm the same as you, Amber. :) Well, almost. I don't mind if the book doesn't look brand new after I read it but I'm quite a perfectionist as well.

    And I hate lending books, or borrowing them. My obsession is owning books - I know it sounds weird but that's why I've never liked the library. I hate the fact that I read it and I have to give it back. So that's why I always buy my own copies and even if I let someone borrow them, it's quite rare. There's only 2 people I trust (in this respect) completely and I used to lend them books but other than that, I don't let people borrow them. :)

    Books, Biscuits & Tea

  13. I do share my books, but give dire warnings and instructions that the books must come back in perfect condition.
    I don't lend out special editions though, I'm not trusting enough for that.
    I did lend my copy of Hunger Games to one of my friends and she said she was really nervous reading it in case she damaged it, and she did a fab job, it came back perfect! Think she'll go to the library next time though so she doesn't have to worry. :D

  14. I lend my books to everyone and I'm really not bothered abou the condition of them. Mine are all bent and stuff anyway cause they get carted around and stuff. and a lot of them are about 5+ years old and have been moved 7-8 times. But I did lend my copy of the deathly hallows to a neighbour who got chocolate in it and bought me a new one and I was upset because it wasn't the copy that I'd bought and read and enjoyed.

    The Cait Files

  15. You make an interesting point, and I too find the most flawless one when buying. I lend my books to very few. I don't have many people who are interested in the same genre that I read, but I will say this, if I have loaned to someone in the past and they have damaged or yes, even given them away to another friend, I will never loan to them again.

  16. Oh I know exactly how you feel!! I make my boyfriend hold the front few copies of the books while I sort through the rest to find the pristine versions, if I'm going to spend money on it. I want it to look GOOD! And I only lend to people who I can harass and track down physically if they lose my books and these people usually let me borrow their books too. So there's a mutual understanding that the book comes back the way it went out. There are some books that have been read so many times like larger paperbacks that show all the wear and tear of reading love that I am a bit more lenient about.

  17. Haha! Wow, really great post, I can definitely relate, to almost everything! It's such a nice analogy to think of your books as pathways to a totally different and precious world. I get really attached to books that I buy for myself as well, because it just feels so much more personal. Taking it to the other side, if a book is expensive or rare, I'd be thoughtful and ask the person for details to obtain my own copy rather than asking them to lend me theirs, NOT that I wouldn't take good care of it, of course! <3

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  18. I really only lend to my close friends, and even then, I'm never entirely pleased that I've done it. But at the same time, I don't know. It depends on the book, and what I think of it.

    There are some books that I cherish and that I'll never lend to anyone, ever, but there are some books that I cherish that I love to see gather more creases and weather with every person who reads it.

  19. Wow, you are exactly like me! Whenever I get a book I always have to make sure it's in perfect condition too, but I still lend them. Only to friends who love to read and who I know will take good care of them though. I was reading Halo last year and a friend at lunch thought it sounded good and asked to read it, so I let her, and her aunt, and when I got it back, the back cover was half broken off. It's not noticable when its closed, but if you open it it gets crooked. I didn't lend Hades to her, and not only because she doesn't go to my school anymore.

  20. I want to lend my books to everyone but I actually don't. I lent one to my uncle but he hasn't had time to even read it. I'm afraid that the book would not be in the same condition when I originally had it.

  21. I lend mine out. The only two bad experiences I had were back in high school: 1. one of my favorite teachers had borrowed a paperback to take with her to the beach & it got wet. It actually wasn't even that bad, but she gave me the money to get another. 2. a friend had borrowed a hardcover (coincidentally it was the same book as the teacher had borrowed) and she just never gave it back.

    It's more often than not my family who I'm lending the books to these days, so I'm completely comfortable with it.

  22. I don't think I've ever gotten back a lent book. It doesn't stop me, though. :)

  23. I do, too! If it comes in the mail and is a little damaged, I'll exchange it for another copy at the store, lol! I'm so OCD... I'm also really careful when reading! I also loan out books, but I usually take the dust jacket off first. I don't read with the dust jacket on to preserve its prettiness, so no one else can, either. Plus, it serves a secondary purpose: By keeping the jacket, I know when I loaned a book out and don't forget about it, so I'm likelier to get it back!

    I did have one co-worker who damaged or lost my copy of GRACELING and replaced it with a brand-new hardcover copy. I could tell he did because it was brand-new looking, and while it probably wasn't a first-edition anymore, it looked prettier than the copy I gave him. But I still knew!! I never told him I knew or asked what happened, though, lol!


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