8th November, 2019

Bookish Stuff: To Lend or Not To Lend - That is the question?

This is a topic I've been thinking about for years and yes, for a bibliophile this is a tremendously serious question. So, do I lend my books to friends, family, acquaintances, etc.? In fact, there is no clear answer and I'd actually have to say "yes" and "no". That's due to the fact that I do lend out my books, but not all of them and certainly not to everyone. Let me explain.

The thing is: my books are precious to me. However, I'm also a bit idiosyncratic (or weird?) in a way as some books are REALLY precious to me and others I don't care about particularly much. The latter would be paperback books that are bound to be read only once. As our house is already bursting at the seams as it is I tend to give these away to my students or lend them willingly to whoever wants them. And while I used to be super strict with not bending any book spines in the past, I've become a bit more relaxed when it comes to these particular copies of books. I carry these around with me and so they do look read. And that is okay. Really it is. Deep breath... yes, it is... okay.

Then again there are other books that I protect like my own child. These are mainly hardbacks, more expensive illustrated editions and, of course, my collection of Folio Society editions. (Don't anyone dare touch my Folios with greasy fingers! The wrath of the great big Bookworm will forever be on you!) These books I usually don't lend to people or if at all, only to super close bibliophile friends whom I trust to treat them like I do.

Borrowing books then is also a tricky feat. If a colleague drops a battered "office/seminar book" (I work in an English lit department) into my hands, I don't worry much about this, but when I borrow a pristine copy from someone, I of course want to return that book in the exact same condition. And that sometimes gives me anxiety. So so much! I recently read somewhere that in these cases Sod's Law is simply bound to happen: No matter how hard you try not to smudge the pages, you feel like something is destined to happen - a dropped cup of tea, the kid running in with chocolate fingers - and so you become even more careful. It's a vicious circle that can drive you insane. :-)

So do I have a solution to this "problem"? Not really. I just wish that anyone borrowing a book would return it in the state they received it. And, of course, return it... as in at all. Because that sometimes happens as well: people don't return books and then you forget whom you lend them to and they disappear forever. Not good.

What is your take on this? Are you a bit peculiar when it comes to your books or do you just not care and lend them freely? I'm curious, so feel free to leave a comment below. :-)

(Picture Credit: readitforward.com)

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