What a mixed bag. On the one hand, I want EVERYONE IN THE WORLD EVER to read my favorite books. I want everyone to understand the awesome, and I feel like if they just read this book, they will suddenly know the secrets of the universe and their lives will vastly improve. When someone reads a book that you've loved, they get to know you a little better, too, and you them. You bond a little on the astral reading plane. You've both walked through the same fictional world and met the same fictional people.
But lending books... Well, it comes with a certain risk factor.
Like the time I lent my annotated version of Lolita out and never got it back. The same happened with my second copy of Atonement. Then there was the time I lent my very best friend a certain favorite fantasy series of mine and it came back with dog-ears every twenty pages.
"But Gillian!" she said, mystified as to why I was bright red and gulping with rage. "That's how I read! I don't use a bookmark. When I reach the point I want to stop, I fold down the corner. Then, when I pick it up to read again, I never bother unfolding the corner, I just leave it down like the total heathen I am so I can visually see how far I've read. Why? Did I do something wrong?"
So after that, I gathered all my books about me like a crazy book lady, barricading myself in my house and telling the poor traumatized dears that from now on, it would just be me and them. I wasn't going to send them out in the world any longer. The people out there were dangerous. They didn't understand how books ought to be treated. Some of them drank coffee while reading. Some of them licked their fingers before turning a page. Nope. The books were staying with me. My friends would just have to deal with it.
|See, this does not look unhealthy to me. This looks like good sense.|
Okay, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration. I am, after all, committed to the cause of spreading the word about my favorite books. Nothing makes me happier than when I get someone to try a book they wouldn't have, or I get them to fangirl about something I like to fangirl about.
And nobody should lend their books out if they're not comfortable (I mean, my books are part pet, part art--I adore them on a personal level, like they are living creatures, but I revere their wholeness and die a little every time they're damaged. Perhaps this is not sane, but SO BE IT). But lending books is a beautiful things. In high school and college, I was the biggest reader of all my friends. I've got the sagging bookshelves to prove it. I was the one friends asked for reading recs, and I knew I couldn't--wouldn't--stop lending. So I came up with reading ground rules to the Gillian Library.
|of the Gillian Library|
1. Always return The Book to me. There's no time frame, really. Just please give it back after you've read it.
2. If you decide you're not going to read The Book anytime in the foreseeable future, give it back to me. I'll re-lend it when you find the time.
3. DO NOT drink beverages around The Book. Do not eat soup around The Book. Keep The Book away from any and all foodstuffs that might spill or stain. Do not take The Book into the bath unless I say you can.
4. DO NOT dog-ear one single corner of The Book. Here is a bookmark. If you lose it, I will give you another. I have stacks.
5. If The Book is a hardcover, then no, I'm not giving you the dust jacket. The dust jacket will be perfectly preserved in a holy shrine until it is once more reunited with The Book.
6. Don't get mad if I don't feel like lending out that particular book. Maybe it's a book my grandpa gave me. Maybe it's a certain edition that I'm extra fond of. Don't worry. I'll find you something else you'll love more.
7. Treat The Book like you would want The Book to treat you.
8. Do any underlining or highlighting in The Book and I shall jam your writing utensil up your nostril.
9. I will not crucify you for every tiny imperfection in The Book. I'm not expecting it to return in mint condition, because The Book is out there living its life, you know? Every crease is a sign of love. But be gentle, please.
10. If a meteor does fall out of the sky and land precisely on The Book, ruining it forever, I will forgive you. Don't worry. Just be honest, do your best to save The Book (I am willing to teach book CPR and can do wonders with some clear packing tape), and apologize. Offering to replace The Book will earn you my unwavering devotion.
I'm not nearly as fastidious as this when I'm reading my own books, but you know? They're my books. Sometimes I dog-ear my own books, but I would never dog-ear somebody else's. So it's just a matter of courtesy, because books are so very personal, aren't they? They're our babies. We've loved them in a way we've loved few things, because few things get inside of us the way they do. If you're lending out your own books, you can set the ground rules. Don't mind dog-ears? Let people dog-ear. Really want your friends to underline the parts they like? Let them go to town. But if you're a book borrower, don't do anything to the book that the lender hasn't said is okay.
So now every day at the Gillian Library can be like this:
|AND YOU GET A BOOK! AND YOU! AND YOU!|
Do you have rules for book borrowing and lending? Do you ever lend or borrow? Have you had good or bad experiences doing so? Sound off!