Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Joys of Book Lending

Posted by Simcha 5:27 AM, under | 12 comments

I like to consider myself a bit of a matchmaker. There are few pleasures in life greater than assisting a person in finding the perfect book for them, and perhaps helping them discover a new favorite author as well. I regularly lend out my own books to both friends and acquaintances, and I feel real satisfaction when that person ends up loving the book as much as I had anticipated.

And so, considering how much I enjoy lending out my books, I was rather surprised to discover that many other people don't feel the same way. In a recent discussion at Bookblogs.ning, most people agreed that they generally do not lend out books because they are concerned that the books will not be returned, or that they be returned in poor condition. Some of the people added that they will only lend out books that they themselves didn't like.

As someone who tries to get any visitor to my home to leave with at least one book, I was surprised that no one shares my pleasure in book lending. I understand that there are some people who are not responsible with books and to them and I would probably just give a piece of paper with the title and author, but I wouldn't let them prevent me from lending out my books to others. Those books which are my favorite, I like to lend out the most and so I  try to get a couple of extra copies from a second hand shop, just in case something happens to them.

I also rarely lend out a book that I myself didn't like, unless I really thought that this person would enjoy it more then I. And those books which are actually bad I would be too embarrassed to lend out to anyone.

And while I do understand that in America, and other English speaking countries, it's quite simple to acquire nearly any  book through the library, and so some people may prefer to just recommend, it's not quite as much fun as providing the book yourself.

Back when I was a preteen, ready to move on from my regular diet of The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins, I became friends with a girl who had a wonderful collection of books, mostly fantasy, which she widely lent out. And every week I would go to her house and stock up on books, many according to her recommendation. But I wasn't the only one who did so. On Saturday it was not uncommon to find the neighborhood kids lounging on the couches and floor of her house, deeply engrossed in one book or another.  Had this girl not been so free with her own books, many of these kids would have probably missed out on some of the wonderful books they discovered through her. 

So by now you probably think think that I'm a little nuts, to wax at length about this seemingly innocuous topic, but I'm now curious to find out if there is anyone else who shares my (apparently intense) feelings about book lending.

What are your feeling about lending out books from your personal collection? Are you for it or against it? (And don't be afraid to be honest, I probably won't hold it against you if you disagree with me)

12 comments:

a book matchmaker - I love it!
I'm with you - there's nothing quite so great as being able to lend out a book. But then, I only lend if I KNOW I am going to get it back.
This was a fun post!

Actually, I have to disagree. Never, ever lend a book.

GIVE a book.

Firstly, books are prone to damage and chances are it'll get ratty when lent. Secondly, books are cheap, and you're not likely to be lending a rare edition or something signed, or with sentimental value. Thirdly, if they like it, they'll have it on their shelf, and can go back to it again and again, and they'll thank you for starting their life-long interest in that book/author.

Never lend, give!

Years ago I would have agreed wholeheartedly with you. I used to lend books out regularly. After a while I got sick of the books being returned with knackered spines, tea cup circles on the covers, dubious looking stains between the covers; added to that was the occasional disappointment of a book never returned.

I rarely lend out books now and only then to people I know will take care of them. If anything, I'd rather do as Adam says and just give a book away.

I do like the idea of "book-matching" though. One thing I'm always doing is suggesting titles to my bibliophile friends.

I wish I could lend books, because there's so many great books I've read I'd love to share, but I can't bring myself to do it.

I've done it in the past and my books have either come back with broken spines with bent pages, or never come back at all.

I get very attached to my books, and I only really lend them (on the rare occasion) if I know they'll come back to me in the same condition I lent them in.

Though like Adam, I do give books away. I've given a few to work friends in the last couple of months, and set them up with books that they may never have picked up and now love.

You make some really interesting points and I enjoyed reading you view on the matter! :)

I firmly in the "matchmaker" camp. I've always been a book lender and, even though they sometimes wander, they seem to always find their way back eventually. There is so much joy in matching books and people, the one question I always ask is, "what was the last book you read and loved?" I rarely come up empty with a perfect match.

Loved the part about being a "book matchmaker". Describes it perfectly.

I'm definitely a book lender. Any way I can help someone to get over their preconceived notions of what fantasy and scifi is, I'll try it. Plus, I mostly just own mass market paperbacks and the replacement is not too bad.

What I don't understand is how people can borrow a book and not return it or completely trash it. Since when is it ok to treat others' stuff like that? Never understand it, but it has happened too many times.

I lend books to some people whose tastes I think are similar to mine. I feel really shy to do it with other people, as though I am giving them insight into my soul and they may reject it by disliking the book. Dramatic, I know, but it's true!

I don't lend to that many people because- well, not many people are as into fantasy and historical fiction as I am, mainly. And yes... I don't like when people don't return books in a prompt manner!

I only lend books to people I like; books are personal and treasured, so I would only place it into someone's hands that I know will appreciate it. On the other hand, I have this one friend who borrows constantly and never returns. I don't mind too much, but I just make sure I keep hidden my favorite books whenever she comes around.

I'm so glad to have found other people that feel the same way that I do about lending books.

Brizmus: While I can't always tell who is the type to not return a book, if someone is a regular offender I would probably avoid lending to them as well.

FairiesNest: Exactly, you expressed my sentiments perfectly!

Bryce: That's my opinion as well. While I might love a book, it is just a book after all and easily replaceable. At least the ones I own.

Adam: The problem with giving away your books is that you then don't have them anymore to read or lend out. There are some books that I have extras of, and so those I might give away, but otherwise that doesn't seem like much of a solution to me.

Sharon: I hear you, and though I'm also frequently recommending books to other people, unless I actually provide them with the book it is highly unlikely that they will actually read it.

Beth: I suppose it's a different issue of have a particular attachment to the books themselves. While there are certain books that I feel like I "have to own" after reading a borrowed copy, it's not the physical book that I'm attached to, so I have little compunction about lending them out.

Aarti: I love that, the idea of your books being a window to your soul. Though I guess that's why I don't lend out books that I think are of low quality, out of concern that it will say something about me.

Stephanie: Only to people you like, huh? Now I'm tempted to ask if I could borrow a book, though I'm afraid what the answer will be :) And I laughed out loud at your answer, visualizing you preparing for a visit from a friend by rushing around the house and hiding your favorite books. I love it!

Believe it or not but I don't have anyone to lend books to. So I don't know how I would feel. One couple we are friends with has a teenager who loves to read and I did say she could borrow my YA books anytime. But the one they were going to borrow they felt bad about taking because I have so many sticky notes through the book and they didn't want to disturb them. lol. But I would share with her as she is very responsible and would take care of the books.

So, I guess I could and would share my books. :)

Melissa: Well, I have few few people that I can lend fantasy books to as most of my friends turn their noses up at "those" books. This is particularly disappointing as I have no one to discuss these books with, which is why I'm so thankful for the Internet. But you definitely strike me as a lender :)

Thank you for the complement. But I don't really discuss my books with anyone in person here as like you have found not many people read "those" books. But That is okay as there will be more books on the shelves for me, right? :) Thanks!

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