I saw this post over at Book Riot a couple of days ago, and I thought I’d like to respond to it myself. Under what circumstances would I lend out a book to someone? This is an interesting topic, because it turns complicated real quick, and it also turns into a discussion about how I care for my books, because that is a major factor in my book lending decisions. See, I’m one of those people who likes to keep my books pristine. I don’t dog-ear, I don’t crack the spines, I don’t write in the margins. When I buy a book at the store, I look through all the copies to make sure I pick up the book that is in the most perfect condition, and I have been known to return a book I’ve ordered because it arrived with a bent cover. See the problem? How can I give my books away when I get so stressed about what the condition of them is before I even buy them? How am I supposed to let someone else take them when I don’t know how they’re going to treat them? So over the years I’ve come up with a set of circumstances in which I will allow books to be lent to other people.
- If the book was used when I bought it. I have no problem buying books that already have bends, creases, and other marks on them. When I get those books, I actually then think it’s okay to be just as unruly with that book as the previous owner was. I’ll bend the heck out of that book. So then I’m perfectly okay with lending out second hand books without a worry as to what the condition will be when it gets returned to me.
- When the borrow knows how neurotic I can be. In undergrad I had a few select friends who I knew how crazy I can be about the condition of my books. My best friend was actually the same way about hers, so whenever she asked to borrow a book, I was pretty okay with just handing it over. The first time another friend asked to borrow a book, she promised she’d be careful with it before I even answered her! She assured me that she wouldn’t damage my book in any way.
- When I didn’t like the book and didn’t actually want to keep it. Another friend of mine wanted to read Twilight, so I gave her my copy. I didn’t finish and knew I was never going to go back to it, so I didn’t have a connection to the book or a concern about the condition of it. I ended up just giving it to her when she told me how much she liked it.
- When I have multiple copies. I have so many books that sometimes duplicates happen. I’ll see a book in the store that I know I want and not realize that I have it waiting for me at home until I go to put the new copy on the bookshelf. When someone wants to borrow a book I have a duplicate of, I just give them the one that isn’t as nice as the other one (whether it’s the condition, cover design, or paperback/hardback). I think I’ve let people keep my duplicates before, too. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was the same person I gave Twilight to!
That’s it, really. I don’t lend my books to just anybody, and even if a book falls under one of these conditions, I may still not lend it out. It depends on how attached I feel to that particular book. I don’t lend books out very often, anymore, since my English major friends aren’t nearby now, like they used to be in undergrad. And that’s perfectly fine with me. I find that even when I lend books out to trusted people I’m constantly worrying about the book and asking how far they are and how much more time they need to read it. I’m always anxious to get my book back.
What’s everyone else like? Do you have any conditions under which you’ll lend a book? Do you never lend books out? Does none of this matter to you?