On Lending My Books

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I take really good care of my books, no matter what. I am very careful about them, making sure that they don't get any folds, stains, any kinds of creases, among many others. I've always been this way ever since I could remember, but this tiny case of obsession (I guess you can call it that) never stopped me from letting others borrow my books. Back then, I was everyone's library. If they didn't have a copy of a title, they'll ask me first before going to another source. It always made me happy when I'd able to lend a copy, as I feel like I'm spreading the "love for books and reading." Then, something happened a few years ago that changed how I view letting others borrow my books, and in fact, even made me scared to do so.

I let a friend of mine from high school borrow my paperback copy of 1984 by George Orwell. It was an old edition so it looked well-loved already, but it was still in pretty good condition. There were no creases on the spine.. no folds.. no anything. I let her borrow the book for a while, telling her she can use it as long as she needs it. About six months later, she decided to return it to me. She gave it back to me looking like this.

Yeah. I know. I wish I could have taken a before picture. I guess I was hoping that the least she could have done was to warn me of this.. err.. predicament. When she handed it to me, I tried really hard to smile and say it was alright, because I didn't want to come off as such a sensitive-book-brat. But I was genuinely beyond hurt and annoyed that she didn't consider what I'd think of what she did.

Her excuse was that she accidentally sat on it, and there was a little wear and tear. Is this what she calls 'wear and tear?'

Anyway, because of that situation, I think it's safe to say I have been traumatized for life. I don't trust my books with just anyone, and it means I trust them a lot if I do.

How about you? I really want to hear your side and your thoughts on this. What are your rules when it comes to lending books? Who do you lend it to? And if you have similar horror stories you'd like to share, PLEASE feel free, because I'd love to know that I am not alone with this. Here's me hoping all your books are in perfect and well-loved conditions!


  1. God, this is my nightmare!!! I would have been devastated! I'm definitely precious about my books and am very selective about who I lend them to.

    1. I lent two of my books to my dentist and it's now eight months and no books. Do not lend your books out if you care about the books. This is the enth time I've tried to be kind and sharing and been ripped off.

      This is positively the last time I am lending any of my books out to anyone. I'm tired of being taken advantage of.

  2. my husband took my first edition hardback of tomorrow when the war began to Uganda with him...

    and left it on a place somehwere in the middle of nowhere.

    The same book/edition just sold for $765 on ebay.

    still not over it.

    1. And you won't get over it. That book was yours and you were ripped off. Learn from this. NO matter what, don't lend any of your books out because 99% of people consider a lent book, a gift. It's as good as gone.

  3. Girl Friday - Glad this hasn't happened to you yet and here's to hoping it never will!

    Nomes - !!! If I were you, I wouldn't be over it either. That's crazy..

  4. +JMJ+

    OMG!!! She murdered that book!

    And then she mutilated its helpless corpse.

    And then she acted as if she hadn't done anything wrong.

    Can you feel the outrage, Jillian, or should I go on???

    I hardly ever lend my own books--and when I do, it is to people I've known for years and love more than my books. (People I've known for years whom I don't love more than my books need not apply.) One reason is that I don't crack the spine when I read--or at least try my darndest not to.

    I have a friend who can't stand this kind of attitude, and he actually makes a point of cracking all his paperback spines in several places before beginning to read. (LOL!!!) And to anyone who is horrified at that, he tells the story of the father of a friend of his, who once wanted to bring a very thick paperback to work but couldn't fit it into his briefcase. So he cut the book in half and brought the first half until he was done with it, and then switched to the second half!!!

    Needless to say, I would never lend that friend of mine any of my books. But in fairness to him, he would never ask to borrow any of them, anyway.

    But a more serious reason I'm leery of lending books is that I have had the bad luck of lending a couple to a "friend" who didn't return them. (Well, he was my sister's friend--and only because he was dating her best friend at the time. Yeah, it was kind of stupid of me to believe her when she vouched for him. Sigh!) And when I saw him a year later and asked him about them, do you know what he said??? "Oh, I forgot! Give me some time. I have to look for them." WTH, right???

    Okay, end of rant. Thanks, Jillian! =P

    1. I'm like you, crack my books spine and it's like cracking my spine. Most people don't care about a book once you lend it to them. They are irresponsible and consider the book a gift. If you want to keep any book, DON'T LEND IT OUT.

  5. I always got my books from the library and just recently started buying books and receiving them for review, and trust me i felt that urge to protect my books instantly, i recently lent rules of attraction to a mate and im praying she did not bloody fold the pages, its simple see if a mate fucks up your book then you say silly bitch you fucked my book don't ask again, you let him/her know that they messed up, but girl your book is another situation it looks like she gave it to her dog to munch on, you shouldn't have smiled because that solved nothing and only resulted in you continuing in feeling horrible like you do now, because you didn't confront her and let of some steam, poor you :(

    If its been bothering you for this long the best thing would be to give her crap and let it out that way you can move on and make her feel like shit to yay! either way your happy :D

  6. E - I remember having a friend of mine who had an English teacher in high school who announced on the very first day of our school year in class that, "I don't want you being sensitive about your books. If you are scared to break the spine, I will break them for you." All I know is, I'm glad I never had that teacher! LOL! And gaaahhh at that person who doesn't even care that he/she lost your book. Never again, huh?

    Blueicegal - Haha, I really should have said something but that was about 4 years ago already and I don't even remain in contact with her anymore.. I guess I just learned my lesson from her and that experience. I guess I'm just a very passive type of person, and though I tend to let people know how I truly feel, at the end of the day, it depends who I'm talking to and if I think they're even worth the effort. This girl just wasn't the effort! Haha.

  7. Totally just wrong. The least she can do is buy you a new one.

    I loathe lending books.

  8. I am the meanest when it comes to lend books. I'm so sorry but it is something really precious for me and books in Malaysia is quite expensive!Even my mom wouldn't dare to touch my books on the shelf.She dont even clean the shelf because she knows i will clean it myself. After i cried and didnt speak over two weeks with my sister because she spilled coffee on my The Treasure island hardback!I was so angry about it.But I make one exception only to my best friend. She's a book lover like me and I know she will keep it excellent like her own books.

  9. (shakes head)
    I have been in this situation before. I lent someone a whole series and when I got them back they were a mess. And I am not talking about normal book wear. I do not lend my books anymore with the exception of one or two people who know about my sensitivity. It may be a bit of an obsession, but it is also common courtesy you know. Sorry for your book.

  10. I am very careful about who i lend books to and I have a document on my computer that marks down who has them. When I was in highschool I let a friend borrow my copy of the complete set of Narnia in one of those giant volumes. She then later claimed she gave it back to me and she hadn't had it for like a year. This is untrue and i lost a 60 dollar very nice version of this book. Now, years later she tells me she is reading Narnia, she just "found it" in her house, but it isn't my copy apparently.

    Another of my favorite books is currently locked in an unopenedable storage unit. I'm like you in that I don't need it back right away, but getting it back eventually would be.... nice.

    Now I make sure I know who has my books and only lend to family and close close friends.

  11. Bah! I bought a copy of The Time Traveler's Wife last summer. I read it quickly and almost immediately sent it off to a friend. I had it for about 10 days. She's had it for over a year. In that time, she loaned it to someone else. I've had a few promises about her mailing it back "next week." I think I'm going to give up and buy myself a new copy (of course, as soon as I do, she'll probably send it back). I'm done loaning books outside the family.

  12. +JMJ+

    Jillian, I suppose that teacher just wanted to demystify great literature and make her students feel more comfortable with their reading . . . but yeah, I am so glad I never had a teacher like her.

    Break my spines for me??? How would she like it if I broke her nose for her? XD

  13. Why in God's green earth would she had you back that, I'd be so embarassed, I'd go buy you a new one before I ever handed that back! I've had the same experience with DVDs so I no longer lend them to people because I very rarely get them back and when I do they're typically scratched and battered!

  14. Wow!!! She MURDERED that book!
    I try to keep my books in the same condition as I got them but I'm also like you, spreden' the love of reading :P

    It was nothing as dramatic as THAT but I let my friend borrow a book that I had in perfect shape ( I know,I know nerd:P) and when I got it back the spine had about ten lines running through it!

    I still let my friends borrow my books but now I spend about ten minutes lecturing them about how how my books are amazing and I want to get them back excactly the way I gave them LOL!

  15. It is amazing that you have this post, as my post right now is about letting your books go. Haha!! Shows you how people are so different. Must be the age. I hardly keep my books. If I did, I wouldn't have room in my house. I always lend/let them go. To me, books are meant to be read, and if I have a very good book, it makes me sad to see it sitting on the shelf.

    I have had many experiences about badly returned books. That will never stop me though!! However, I have been known to judge people by how they returned their book to me!!!

  16. Juju - I guess it's not knowing what kind of reader I'm lending my books to, too!

    Darlyn - I totally get what you mean. I mean, books here aren't as expensive but they CAN be definitely! And besides, any amount of money that you have spent counts a lot no matter what.

    Elie - Thanks. It is common courtesy I think to return something you borrowed in good condition, whether they're books or not.

    Laura - Haha I wish I was as organized you and actually document things like that. But the thing with the Narnia books is just plain horrible! How could she even say that while you're right there in front of her?

    Lori - You really just never know about people you're not used to lending your books too.. it's quite a dangerous risk LOL But sorry about your Time Traveler's Wife copy!

    E - LOL! "How would she like it if I broke her nose for her? XD" Perfect way to put it.

    readerreads - Yeah, I think I'd be really embarrassed too. I just don't know how she was able to give it back to me with a straight face! lol!

    Beth - MURDER would be the right word to describe it. Oh and ugh, lines and creases are so cringe worthy to me, I don't know why! My friends thinks I'm crazy for thinking that way of books, but that's just me.

    BookQuoter - I saw your post, and like the idea of a traveling book by the way. And yeah, I judge people too based on the way they return books to me. Haha.

  17. Ouch! She should buy you a new copy! That's a really serious injury!

    I"m very picky and sensitive as well, but I'm terrible at rejecting people, so I make them promise they'll take care of my book lol.
    I try not to share and tell about the books I have so they wouldn't make me their library, and I wouldnt have to reject others. D:

    Though, I am also very clumsy. D: I accidentally let some water ruined some part of my best friend's book D: D: Not very damaged but I feel very guilty, i might just buy her a new one... when the time is right. *avoids* sigh.

  18. FionaChan - I don't even have any means of contact with the girl who did this, but yes, it is a serious injury. It's also difficult for me to say no to others, and that's one thing I'm always trying to work on. But hey, at least you know better and think that maybe you should get her a new one.. right? ;) Mine just completely ignored the situation!

  19. I do not lend, just give the books away if to a friend who likes to read the same author... In high school so very many years ago I lent a book out to a class mate and she swore and swore she would get it back to me... Never happened as come to find out later she lent the book out to a friend of hers and the book got ruined so after that never again!
    I swap out on Paperback Swap now and unfortunately for me the books received in return for my Pristine, Clean, Undamaged books I have some that cannot understand how the person could justify sending them to someone else.. Then again I have some in brand new condition from other swappers that are older than the books I am swapping! Some people just do not respect books and some people like us treasure them more than we do our own health....

    jackie ^_^

  20. OMG that would make me so mad! I only lend my books to my bff and older sisters. I do tell them time and time again that if they want to borrow something they should take care of it! I never experienced something that bad. But a former friend borrowed one of my notes, about 200 pages worth of notes, from last year. I never got it back! I emailed and texted her, but I never heard any thing back. I'm really angry, because those notes could be very important for this year! ;(

  21. Jackie - Wow, so she pretends the book's her and lends it to someone else?? Sorry about that!

    Nina - Oh no, notes for school are a different story especially if they're that important! I hope you get it back soon!

  22. For a long time I was just like you with the whole being like a library-thing, but again just like you I had a HORRIBLE experience that made me stop! I had these great books which I recommended to a lot of my friends but since none of them really buy books that much (yeah, I know I need to get some book-friends)I thought it was ok to let them loan it from me... It went well with the first 7 friends so my first fear of someone mutilating my books seemed to have passed, but then friend number 8 came a long... and it changed... everything! When I got my book back from her it was completely destroyed with pages torn out and the cover(paperback) having been shredded by the zipper in her bag! And she didn't even mention it! She was really a quite close friend at the time but this experience simply made me respect her a whole lot less because it shoved how much respect she really had for me, when she was able to conciously treat something she knew I loved like that.. And the worst thing is that it has totally made me paranoid about lending out books - today I only let my sister and to dearest friends borrow any of my books and this only happens after they have been given a lecture on the importance of protecting the books from any harm.... I know it sounds crazy but that it was the trauma of mutilated book will do to you...

  23. Ohhhhh, ouch! I'd have probably burst into tears on the spot if someone had given me my book back in that state! I never lend my books outside my home any more, I must admit. Even that's not always safe!

    My stepdad borrowed one and left it on a plane. My friends have borrowed books which they then became extremely territorial over, claiming they weren't mine at all. And my sister once borrowed a brand new, unread book and bent every page round on itself as she was reading it...

    Now only my mum, stepdad and sister really borrow books - my stepdad has to replace anything he loses, and my sister has book dust jackets removed and dire warnings issued before she touches anything!

  24. Sofie - The zipper in the bag sounds painful to me I don't know why! lol But I'm sorry Friend # 8 had to mutilate your book that way! I also agree that sometimes it's not just about the book anymore, it's about the respect the person has for you.

    Ellie - I hate reading on the plane for fear of losing it because when I was a kid I did that and I just felt so darn guilty! And your friend who got all territorial is so creepy! That would have bothered me for sure!

  25. I'm really open to tell the conditions of getting a book lent by me to the person who borrow it. And it's awful when you see it has been creased. My bestfriend almost hated me once because of this, haha. I lent her a book, and when she gave me back, the spine was very creased and the letters of the title of the book in gold (like Percy Jackson) were fading, like as if you rub it so much that it was desapearing. It had made me super sad that day when I received it back... Since then I've been so much more careful with them, and making it clear to the "borrowers" the way they have to read it not to crease the book or anything.

  26. I lend my books only to four people: my mother, my father, my brother and my best friend. All of them respect and love books and would never dream of mishandling them (except dad, who has been known to abuse paperbacks, so I only lend him hardcovers). I learned the hard way that not everyone respects books and stopped lending out my books to all and sundry after too many instances of not getting back books or receiving them back in an unnecessarily grungy condition. I don’t mind if people put a couple of creases in the spines of my paperbacks – not everyone has a strong enough grip to read a book without breaking the spine – but I will never understand how my uncle thought it was okay to roll around the cover of my pristine copy of the Lord of the Rings until it was limp as a rag and looked like he had tried to felt it like wool.

  27. That photo makes me a little bit nauseous. I keep specific copies of my favorite books to lend to others, (aka not the copy I've read and am attached to). That way I never lend books that I'm worried about getting back, it's too stressful.

  28. Raila - Yeah that's how how I am too now. Very sad about the Percy Jackson books!! :/

    Bibliophile - At least your family knows how to take care of your books.. I'm glad my mom and sister knows how to, and are probably worse than me. Haha. But wow, when I read what you said about your uncle.. *CRINGE!!!*

    Avid Reader - Gah! Me too :/ I guess for me though I don't really have double copies of one book so I don't have any other option but to either say no to them or to warn them to be careful of my book. But yeah, it can definitely be a stressful experience for us book lovers.

  29. oh no!!! thats awful! Sadly I've lent books and either never saw them again or got them back damaged. One of my favorites came back with oil stains on it. *ick* So I dont generally lend my books out anymore. Unless its a book I dont mind never seeing again.

  30. Oh! This just broke my heart!

    I treat my books very kindly. I rarely "break" a spine. I never dog-ear corners. I mean, my books get normal wear and tear, but I am very nice and gentle with them. I usually give people the benefit of the doubt, and I am up front about the condition I expect my books to be in when I get them back.

    About 8 months ago I lent a series of 4 books to my brother-in-law. A month after I gave them to him, we were having a party and he was eying more of my books. I told him he would get nothing else until mine were returned. That's when his wife says that he let their dog CHEW APART one of my books. I flipped out and told him I wanted my books back, pronto. And now I am still waiting.

    Needless to say, he will never be borrowing from me again.

    I am totally up front with people about what i expect. Don't be afraid to set a lot of rules, or just say no. I have started doing both and if people like I am a crazy book lady, so be it! :)

  31. naida - Fortunately, I haven't had anyone NOT return a borrowed book. That would be so awful!

    Allie - I try so very hard not to break a spine, and I think over the years I've managed to do so just fine. And the thing with the dog is just plain disrespectful, I don't get how some people can do that to other people's things! Nowadays I'm more upfront about what I expect. Sadly back in high school, I wasn't.

  32. In short. If you have a book you really treasure and don't want it to disappear - DO NOT LEND IT OUT. Every single book I have lent out, bar none, has disappeared, never to be returned.