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On Borrowing Books

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Who would you rather borrow from? Your library? Or a Friend?
(Or don’t your friends trust you to return their books?)
And, DO you return books you borrow?

I don’t want to ruin friendships over books so I take good care of books loaned to me by friends. I make sure books are not handled with greasy fingers after that tasty, flaky chocolate croissant over coffee in the morning. They are tugged away in ziploc bags to avoid dog-earedness and folded corners. Granted all that, I don’t borrow from friends very often because my own collection usually outnumbers theirs. Library books are usually not my top priority—I browse more than I check out books. New books usually sport a long paging queue that to be on top of them one has to stay alert on the library catalog like bidding on eBay. As the municipal budget crisis hits closer home, library is no longer the place for new books. It takes longer for new books to appear on the shelves because of budget constraint. The last time I checked, 4 out of 5 new novels on my list were designated as being “considered for acquisition.” Library is a good resource of non-fiction, which I usually don’t buy.

18 Responses

  1. Like you, I’m a reluctant Kindler and one of the features I don’t like is the fact that you can neither lend nor borrow books on the thing. Still when I lend, I rarely ask for books back and if a friend wants to lend to another friend (even one I’m not really friends with) I rarely say “no.” Often, when I’ve borrowed, I don’t remember to return, though will if reminded. When my dear father was still alive, he’d often “lend” books to his children and though he didn’t ask for them back, he’d remind me, “Has your sister read that yet?” I once sold off a bunch of books mostly to friends before a big move. Years, later back in the city, I married a friend and moved in with many of the old paperbacks he’d bought from me. Most of were bought used to begin with, still it was a sweet homecoming.

    • I have always fantasized that I can send a book through my Kindle to my friend. maybe publishers have to work out the details and terms with which users can lend an e-copy of a book. I don’t see why we shouldn’t . It won’t hurt the sales.

  2. In Colombo I have to buy (second hand) its out of the question buying new – exhorbitant to say the least. In Melburne where I spend about five months of every year I have a wonderful library.

  3. I don’t borrow from friends all that often because they don’t read very much.

    Also, I am absolutely terrible at remembering to return books. Shocking. So I am much safer to borrow books from the library because if I fail to return it its my own problem and I have to cop the fine. I feel guiltier when I forget with a friend, but clearly not enough or I would remember to return them!

    I am very comfortable lending out my books though. I thinks its important to share the book love

    • My friends aren’t voracious readers as I am so the selection is limited. As to the library book deadline, I once forgot to return a book before I went on vacation for three weeks. After that episode, I make sure to write deadline dates on post-its in very bright colors to remind myself.

  4. I’d rather borrow from a friend so that I can keep them longer, if needed. BUT, I am very good with my books. No creased spines or bent pages. I keep them in ziplocks for transport so they look brand new when I return them.

    However, the friends that I lend to are not always so careful. Sometimes a book will come back with a folded cover (the worst!). If this happens more than twice, then they are secretly removed from my list of approved borrowers.

    Typically, I only buy paper copies of books that I know I want to keep. I usually won’t lend those but ARCs? No problem. Especially the ones that lack cover art.

    • I’m also very meticulous with my books, making sure there is no creased spine and coffee stain. I don’t often borrow from friends because they don’t read so much as I do. Like you, I prefer trade paperbacks because they are easy to keep and don’t occupy too much space.

  5. I usually don’t borrow books from friends. Most of my friends don’t read like I do. Besides, I always have a pile of unread books which keep piling. When a new book comes, I wait till it appears in local stores, then get a copy. These are mostly the African writers. For the foreign books that are difficult to get, I search through the used books stores. I don’t kick myself too had if I don’t get such books. For instance, as of now I have not read Madam Bovary, nothing from Foster Wallace, Nabokov, etc.

    I care about the books I loan out. I always want them back and in a condition I deem fit. If I borrow someone else book I return it in time and in good condition. However, I always want to have my own copy of books I read, whether I like the story or not.

    • I haven’t read Foster Wallace but have picked up Pnin and Pale Fire by Nabokov. Make Madame Bovary your priority, I say. 🙂

      I frown upon folded covers, creased spine and stains when books returned to me in any of these condition. But what can I do? I don’t address the issue but will keep in mind who I’ll not lend the books to in the future.

  6. For the most part, I borrow from the library. I do occasionally borrow books from one of my friends, and I borrow books unhesitatingly from my parents and my brother, and I am always careful to return them promptly and in the same condition they were in when I got them. These are the same four people I lend books to.

  7. I’d probably rather borrow from the library but the truth is I almost never borrow books. My husband and I share our books but I don’t consider that borrowing!

  8. I prefer to borrow books from the library in case I don’t finish them. With a friend I always feel more guilty about returning unread books for some reason 🙂

  9. I prefer the library. I do lend books myself, but many times I’ve never seen the book again. The friend moves, the friend loses or damages the book, the friend lends it to someone else.

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