Friday, April 26, 2013

Lending People Books


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.

 http://blog.lauramunson.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/photo-3.jpg

"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?"

 http://ct.fra.bz/ol/fz/sw/i53/5/8/19/frabz-One-does-not-simply-Dog-ear-borrowed-books-daf79d.jpg

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.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--aHBzMRbgC0/TzskqUCmezI/AAAAAAAAAFU/pZSgihkISO0/s1600/book+hoarder+3.jpg
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.

http://www.myspaceantics.com/images/myspace-graphics/christian/ten-commandments.gif
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:

Oprah - You Get A Car
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!


49 comments:

  1. I relate so much to this post. I tend to only let my BFF borrow books because she knows the rules. And my boss, because she approves my paycheck and I fear telling her no.

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    1. Bwahahaha yes I would not refrain from lending your boss books if I were you. That sounds like a bad strategy for employment.

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  2. I relate to everything! Especially the end part. I ccan dog-ear or underline my books, because they're MY books, but I would never ever dog-ear someone else's, nor do I want them to dog-ear mine. I might have been a screaming mess if I was put into your situation about the dog-ears.

    Anyway, I rarely lend anyone my books, cause none of my friends are as big a reader as I am. They always complain about not having time :P

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    1. The thing is, I knew my friend did that do her books, but I assumed she wouldn't do them to MINE. But you know what they say when you assume.

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  3. Ha great post! I actually don't lend my books out, but only because none of my friends are readers (lame, I know). But, I can imagine how I'd feel if a book I lent out came back with writing or giant stains or if, even worse, it doesn't come back at all! I would definitely want to make a list like this, and have them sign some contract in which if I do not get my book back, they are buying me a new one. It's only fair ;)

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    1. It's not a fun feeling when the book doesn't come back. At least I know these friends still HAVE the books, but it's been years.

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  4. Lol, I love this post! I love lending my books to my friends, but yeah, I'm also kind of picky about it. Once at my friend's house she asked to look at a book I had brought with me, so I gave it to her and we were reading on the couch together. Then she had to get up to do something and I saw her about to dog-ear the page and I gave her the evil eye until she used a bookmark. And once my friend borrowed my copy of Breaking Dawn and gave it back to me with the cover, I kid you not, HANGING OFF the book. She did not offer me a replacement. Needless to say, we are not friends anymore. Anyway, I love the commandments. :)

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    1. HANGING. OFF. I don't even know what I'd do. That is DEFINITELY valid reason for ending a friendship. That's just... disrespectful, actually. It's one thing for the book to get destroyed, because these things do happen, but to not give up endless apologies or offer to replace it... *judges your ex-friend most harshly*

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  5. I don't know about that "no time frame" rule... I once lent my cousin my copy of Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, only to have it finally returned THREE whole years later. I am now a firm believer in the "two weeks or less" policy. (That being said, my cousin did return the book alongside the 18 or so Nancy Drew books my Aunt borrowed from my Mom when she first HAD my cousin, so maybe that sort of things just runs in that family...)

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    1. I'm just trying to be hospitable with the no time frame thing, but yeah, two weeks would be ideal. THREE YEARS. But see, at least the book came back! That's good!

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  6. I feel your pain!! Me and my brother read similar books so I will often let him borrow some of mine. (Because I'm an awesome sister!) And last year I let him borrow my copy of The Alchemyst (One of my all time favorite books) and he ruined the book. He put it in something sticky and then shut it in a car door, totally ruining not only the cover, BUT EVERY SINGLE PAGE! I got really mad at him and told him he had to buy me a new copy, BUT then my mom came in and told me I was overreacting and that he didn't have to buy me a new book! Needless to say that it took a while for me to trust him again! Love the post though!!!

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    1. STICKY THINGS ON BOOKS ARE THE WORST. I don't know how you refrained from murdering him. Because I would have.

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  7. I've never seen someone dogear so many pages and then leave them down. That's absolutely bizarre. Not to mention a mega-hassle the next time she wants to re-read the book :/

    Luckily I haven't had any bad lending tales. Though one time my dad borrowed a book and returned it after several of the pages had gone loose-leaf. Somehow. I suspect that was the book's fault though (it was one of those arcs that don't even have a mock-up of the final cover on them, just a plain cover with the title/author/other info in a small standard font, so I suspect it was produced kind of flimsily...)

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    1. She does that with all her books! I don't understand this method!

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  8. YES! Oh my gosh, I nearly gasped out loud when I saw your poor, dog-eared book. The poor thing! I need to get better about lending out my books. I'm just so anal and fearful.

    I agree with every last one of your rules. Other people's belongings should be treated with respect and care. It's only right. But grace and forgiveness should come into play as well when needed.

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  9. You hit the nail on the head! Loved this post. I never seem to learn, because I keep lending books to the same people and they always come back damaged in some way. One time I lent my copy of The Lonely Polygamist to a girl in my book club (book club!! You'd think she would feel the same way about books as me, but no) and it came back with the dust jacket literally in tatters. It had gotten wet and dried and was all wrinkled!! She said, "Oh, sorry, I hope it's ok." Can you tell I'm still bitter about that one?

    I think you should have bookmarks made for when you loan out your books, and list your Ten Commandments on one side!

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    1. That is a traumatic story.

      BEST. BOOKMARK. IDEA. EVER.

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    2. Once in a while a brilliant idea strikes:)

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  10. Lol, this is hilarious! I think I can most relate to rule #5. Everybody who I lend to, is all, "Why doesn't it have the dusk jacket?!" And I'm like, "NO, I have bought this book with my own money and I will not have you ruining it!" "I want it look spanking new on my bookshelf/dresser."

    Conversion with almost 3/4 of the borrowers. :D

    Great post, and I honestly can relate to all of it. Rule #5 was just the most fun to act out in my head! ;)

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    1. Dust jackets are delicate creatures that must be treated with the utmost care. Ruined covers actually break my heart a little.

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  11. YES! I once lent a coworker a book and never got it back. I'm at the point where someone wants to borrow one, I'll lend them an ebook version but not physical. I've had copies returned to me with drink stains or pages torn (the torn pages are from people who have little children). I treat my books with great care so imagine my reaction when I sent my books to get autographed by an author and I got one copy back that was dirty and with questionable stains. Turns out author's assistant accidentally (or on purpose) switched out my clean crisp brand new copy with someone's dirty copy. That person later confirmed they got a crisp clean copy and confirmed my suspicion. I was so angry and never addressed it with the assistant like friends recommended. I can't bare to look at the book and am wanting to replace the copy, but one thing that stops me is the dirty book is a first edition like my original copy. I feel cheated having to waste money twice on a book. I may see if I can find a first edition or if not, will carefully cut out the front page autographed and get a second edition.

    If it has a dust jacket, I keep it. Even when I mailed a few hardbacks to a different author for signing, I kept the dust jackets off.

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    1. That is a HORRIBLE story. I AM SO SORRY THAT HAPPENED.

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  12. This: "my books are part pet, part art"

    That about sums them up.

    Brilliant post, my friend. I don't lend my books, just because I've had some REALLY regrettable incidents with book lending. BUT. If it's a book I want someone to read badly enough, I will buy them a copy of their very own to love and hold and pet and call George.

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    1. HENCEFORTH ALL MY BOOKS SHALL NOW BE CALLED GEORGE.

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  13. EVERYTHING IN THIS POST IS SO TRUE. Honestly, it's very hard for me to lend out my books ESPECIALLY the ones that I consider favorites. I currently only lend books to two of my friends, and only because I can trust them to take care of the books! I really think people should be mindful and respectful when they borrow stuff (and not just books) because it isn't theirs and they'll have to return it. Your rules seem pretty sound (on the whole) to me :)

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    1. That "on the whole" bit is probably referring to the part where I threatened to thrust objects up the borrower's nose, which I will admit is not remotely sound. But yeah, respect is definitely important while borrowing.

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  14. I love this post so much! I hate when people mess with my books. I treat mine like children and some people just don't get it. I've had to forgo letting certain people barrow books from me. I'm pretty sure we have the same ideas about books! You have no idea how true this post is for me as well! Thanks for saying all of this. I agree whole heartedly!

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  15. This is such a great post! I can really relate to it! I know it sounds a little selfish but I stopped lending books ever since my cousin borrowed my Harry Potter book set and when he returned it it was full of folds and the spine of the books was full of lines. I was so furious about it because he borrowed all of the 7 books and he didn't even took care of it. After that experience, I stopped lending books even to my closest friends but your 10 commandments somehow helped me to consider lending my books again to friends that I know I cant trust, that is . :)

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  16. I don't lend books....I give them away! After I've read a book (assuming it's mine, not the library's), I send it to someone via RAK, or donate it to the library, or sell it to my local used book store for credit, or give it to a family member. To my mind, books NEED to be read, and I rarely re-read (too many new books that require reading!), so why hoard them? It's not like I won't be able to find them again in the future, at the library or whatnot.

    I do agree with you 100% about dog-earring, though. I hate getting books from the library that are falling apart because of too much repeated dog-earring. Poor books. :(

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  17. You are not alone, I have rules as well when lending out books, and I don't always repeat them in a nice way when I hand over my precious procession. :)

    My most horrible book lending moment was in high school when my friend brought my book back after she had dropped it into a muddy pile of water! I was so mad, but luckily she apologized and bought me a new copy. I was very hesitant about lending people books after that, but I do lend out books on occasion with my list of rules.

    Oh and I NEVER give anyone the dust jacket. I take it off before I give them the book.

    Great and hilarious post!

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  18. I never ever lend books to people. I don't buy many books, but I like the ones I have bought to stay as perfect as possible. This probably isn't the greatest reason ever, but I can't help it. I think books are so pretty and wonderful and I want them to stay that way. My friends all know that I won't lend out my books, so they'll get recommendations for me and just buy them on their own.

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  19. I basically had to restart my heart after I saw that amazing picture. I may sound selfish typing this, but I would love to have that sort of room ;) Okay, I SO agree with this post. I love to lend books...but I'm very picky about to WHO and WHAT I'm lending. I know my one friend treats books in holiest conditions. Then there's my other friend who wanted to borrow my mint condition box set of The Hunger Games last year but I've been in her house and have watched her treat books...so I said no. I love your commandments and I get them. But I just love lending books because I feel that's the only way I can share my love of books to the real people around me. So right now, I only basically lend books to that one friend...and finally my sister because she sleeps in the same room as me and knows the book commandments.

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  20. hahaha..awesome post. If I lend a book, I had it off the way I do one of my own children..with a list of do's and don'ts and I damn well better get it back in the same condition I lent it. It it's signed or special edition well forget it..you cannot borrow it period!

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  21. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I might just steal those ten commandments for myself. I love them. Love them. And your gifs. Dude, how to you find them all?! Haha.

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  22. Aw, love this post :D Thank you for sharing Gillian. <3 I would NEVER EVER lend away one of my books. EVER. Gah. Books are precious to me as well. <3 I would not stand for them being damaged. Sigh. :)

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  23. SO TRUE even though I very rarely lend books. I do like to borrow books though and I find I abide by all these rules since I'm very obsessive about the condition of my books too. Sometimes though, the paperbacks get squashed in my bag and the corner gets all wrinkly. Ugh, I feel so bad when that happens. :/

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  24. On the one hand, I do hate to see a book I've lent out get damaged. On the other hand, I try to think of my novels in the same way I think of my cookbooks -- the more they are used, the more they've been enjoyed, and more often than not that comes with a little bit of "usage evidence." Sometimes when I look at all the pristine books on my shelves, I get a little sad because I know they are in such perfect condition because I haven't read so many of them yet! I've tried to let go of my OCD-ness a little knowing that the tradeoff is getting to share a story I love with someone else who I can now talk to about the book. The people who most often want to borrow books from me are adult family members though and I can trust them to not do anything to purposely harm them. Love your commandments though -- #8 got me laughing a LOT :)

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  25. I want to print these rules out and post them all over my bookcases so that everyone who borrows my books know that these are not just Gillian's rules, but Gaby's rules as well. FOR REAL. The worst is when books get wet. THE WORST. And I will always replace a book I accidentally damaged (because let's be real, hell exists for people who dogear pages). ALWAYS. Mostly because I would hope someone else would do that in the positions were flipped!

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  26. I only lend books to a select few and that's only because they know how much I care about my books and they respect and understand that. ALL I ASK.

    I once lent a book to an acquaintance and she lost it. I'm getting so angry thinking about the incident and thinking about how a person could just treat a think someone gave them out of kindness with such negligence.
    I know it's partly my fault for hating confrontation. Not bothering her more about the book before we went our separate ways after senior year. Even afterwards, I should have just put my foot down HARD and demanded she return it or at least, reimburse me for it. But I felt awkward about the whole thing and she was an acquaintance and even our mutual friends become acquaintances to me after high school.
    Anyway, it's sad and now I'm so much more careful about saying 'yes' all the time.

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  27. I refuse to lend people books anymore. I have lost so many books because people do not return books, and if they do they are in horrible condition. Why do people insist on bending books as far as they can go, is there something in the margin that is so important? Why do people fold/tear pages?

    Some of my books are valuable textbooks that I spend a lot of money to purchase and have kept them because they possess valuable knowledge to me. Some are valuable because they are a part of my childhood that cannot be replaced. Some are valuable because they have brought me endless enjoyment. Any book that I decide to keep in my small bookcase is because they hold some kind of significance in my life.

    Call me a brat, but my things are mine. I am done with the being nice thing. Unless it is someone I truly trust and respect, I will never lend a single book of mine again.

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  28. Hi,

    Can you please give a line on how to say no politely in the first place? I will stick that on my book shelf.

    Thanks,
    Amy

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  29. great post! books are sacred creatures... and i am currently in the process of negotiation of getting my book back from a former friend whom i formerly trust. i am a bit of paranoid because who knows what a former friend would do with your precious book. it is one of my fave books, the first of The Hunger Games trilogy, yeah, beat me to pulp coz i am crazy enough to lend it. i do hope i could have it back, the box set looks lonely without it. and me too, boo-hoo... thanks a bunch!

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  30. I absolutely LOVE this post. I'm planning on lending my friend two precious books of mine soon and am totally forcing her to read this post first. I mean, we can't have any dog-eared pages, can we?

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  31. I love my friends and I love my books. Therefore, I do not lend my books to my friends.

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  32. I can relate to your post very well. I also thought my books as my soul. When someone damaged my books, I feel like a little of my soul go away. But, I've lend my books to online library in exchange for a very little money. But, I don't know about the sum at the time. Now, I won't lend my new books because it's just not worth it to sell your soul for little money. Maybe 1 year from now on but definitely not now. Thank you for your post, now I know that I am not alone.

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  33. hi
    my sister wants to borrow my entire Cassandra Clare collection and I don't want her too for fear that it would get damaged. I managed to keep the books in pristine condition and they appear to be unread, I would like to keep it that way. If she breaks the spine or there is a little dent in it I will not be happy one bit. the worst part is however she cant even get me another copy that matches the rest of the series because there was a cover change so even if she got me another book the series wouldn't match ! she took my copy of the fault of our stars without asking and she broke the spine on it ! if she borrowed it then I would be fearful that it would get damaged.

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