Sunday Salon: Lending books – share your horror stories

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I am known to my friends and family as being quite a reader – I doubt that my living space will ever be empty of reading material. As such, I am often asked to

  1. recommend a book (err, read my reviews here)
  2. lend books out
  3. use my contacts to get rid of books people have finished with.

In my apartment, I have several areas, currently overflowing with books, but there is some form of method in my madness in how things are stored, especially for those books that I’m willing – or not – to lend out.

I have a shelf of books in my place that is the “do not lend” shelf. People know not to ask for books on that shelf, as it’ll be a “No”. These are the hardbacks (usually Terry Pratchett),  the Persephone Greys (definitely a no); etc etc.

There is another shelf of books that are generally Bookcrossing books that I have yet to read. These books I have no problem in lending them out – as long as I get them back (because I haven’t read them yet!). Unfortunately, some have gone out, only for them never to be seen again. Apparently because “I thought I could put them straight to the Charity Shop” – even though I had specifically said I WANT THIS BACK. Needless to say, these people now only get to pick from the crate in the corner – this is the “I have no problem never getting back” pile – usually, Bookcrossing books that were due for release anyway, never to be seen again….It’s this bucket that ultimately gets the books covered by #3 above!

I’ve also been asked by someone to read a new acquisition before I’d had the chance to read it myself. I handed it over (knowing I wouldn’t be reading it for a while) with the proviso that I’d like it back when finished with, so I could read it myself.  It was handed back minutes later with a “well if you wanted to read it yourself you should have given this copy over and brought yourself another copy”.  Errr, what? buy a second copy of a book I’d already brought so that you could “borrow” the first one? Especially when there’s already a copy of the same book in your house? No, you’re ok, ta.

There was one specific person I used to lend my Terry Pratchett books to – it was a constant conversation and (almost) argument that he would take the dust jackets off whilst he read them. My view was that the jackets were there to protect the book, his that the jackets were works of art in their own right, so needed to be protected as much as the books. I still lent him the books, and they still came back ok, so we must have agreed somewhere along the line!

So, constant reader, do you have any nightmare/pet peeves when it comes to lending books to people?




14 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Lending books – share your horror stories

  1. I quite like lending books to friends but it is really annoying when you don’t get them back. My friends are quite good tbf…they wouldn’t want to feel the wrath of my book rage. LOL.

    I’m really bad at remembering who I’ve lent what though, and I really should write it down but then I feel like I’m being too precious. I have lost a few books after forgetting who to ask for it!


    • I only “lend” to a couple of people – most of my friends have at least as many books as I do, so when I see them, a big pile of books is put in the middle of the table and then we only take the ones we actually want.

      There is something called Bookcrossing maths, which means that everyone (especially new members) has to go away with more books than they came with. That can be difficult for some people to work out, but it’s generally works because whereever we meet, there’s a bookshelf in the corner…..


  2. I have problems in the other direction. People know I read, so they push books on me without making it clear whether it’s being lent or given. Usually, since they aren’t books that I chose for myself, I don’t read them. They ultimately end up in the stack of give-aways, where I end up with this big moral dilemma. Do I tell my friend that I didn’t bother to read the book she gave me in order to find out if she wants it back? Keep in mind, that it’s probably at least three years since she gave me the book.

    Fortunately, since that happened multiple times, I’m now better at asking when the transaction first occurs — and I won’t take books that are being lent to me.


    • My family know (or at least suspect) the state of my booshelves, so the books I get for them are not to be read, but simply to get rid off.

      Most of my friend, where they are bookish, either give me vouchers or (if they really know the type of book I like) will give me one. I will always tell them if I’m not going to take it, or am unlikely to read soon.

      Rest of my friends dont read half as much as I do so certainly dont even risk it


  3. Since moving to a smaller house, and moving frequently before that, I have not worried about holding onto books. Novels I tend to read and get rid of. I rarely read again and if I want one, but not to buy it, I borrow it from library. I have some non fiction books that I keep. They are really useful. That said I’m sure I could find all these things on Internet. I think books in a room are part of the way we choose to “decorate” (in the loosest sense) our rooms. They are lovely to look at. I find looking at a book shelf relaxing and stimulating at same time. I could easily only have books to be read in my house. I choose to keep a few shelves. That said I have had peeps say they will give books back and my intention is then to pass them onto another friend. When they don’t return I get irritated. I think that’s my problem, not theirs. Haha


    • When I do dare to look at my bookshelves, I get quite excited about all the possibilities, and what I could read next…..and then realise it wont happen for a while because of all the other books I’m in the middle of reading!


    • It depends on my connection to the author as to whether I lend out signed copies. Pratchett/Gaiman etc – never. One with a dedication to me specifically?? lend but get back. Random unpersonalised signature – it’s fine.


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