Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Book Lender's Dilemma

Posted by Simcha 7:03 AM, under | 10 comments

I love it when I lend a friend a book by an author that is new to them and they come back to me raving about how much they enjoyed it. This is particularly satisfying for me when the book is a fantasy because so few of my friends are willing to even give genre books a try.


When one of my friends recently came to me looking for something good to read I was a bit hesitant about what to lend her. I have been slowly working on converting this friend into a fantasy reader but we had a bit of a setback when I lent one of my favorite fantasy books, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and she returned it to me unfinished, saying it bored her. I was now afraid of scaring her off by giving her the wrong book, but the pressure was on to find just the right fantasy to keep her reading. I finally decided on another one of my favorites, The Warded Man by Peter Brett, though I really had no idea what her response to it would be.

To my delight, my friend returned the book to me several days later full of praise for The Warded Man and eager to read the sequel. That's when I realized that I hadn't thought this out fully enough. I should have expected that if my friend enjoyed the book she would ask me if I had the sequel as well. And I do have it. And it's a fantastic book. But it's also the personally autographed copy that I won from Peter Brett himself after doing some crazy stunt for a contest of his. Needless to say, this book has a special place on a high shelf where it sits in isolation,  protected from grubby hands or jostling elbows.

I gently explained to my friend about the book and then, a bit reluctantly, told her that she could borrow it if she was very careful with it. But all the fuss I had made about the book caused my friend to become nervous understandably nervous about being responsible for it and so she asked if she could just borrow another book instead.

But now, several hours later, I realize how ridiculous I'm being. While it's really cool to have a personally autographed book, what good does the book do anyone if it just sits on a shelf unread? And considering how excited I was that my friend liked the book just much as I did, why would I not want to share the sequel with her as well?

So I've decided that tomorrow I'm going to take the book down from its shelf and bring it over to my friend's house where I will leave it for her without offering a single word of caution. Because, after all, isn't that what books are for?

10 comments:

I know exactly your dilemma, many of times I've not had my books returned due to friends moving or forgetting and I have so many books I struggles to keep track.

I've recently begun swapping my books - my opinion is that even though I love the books, I have 20 new books on average coming a week and I never have to time to reread books, so I now just send them off.

I have this trouble too. I want to share the books, but I'm afraid of the signed ones. Part of my mind thinks it's crazy, but I don't want it ruined either. I think it depends on the friends. I have some friends I would not, well I would think twice, but I would do it. And there are the others that I wouldn't lend an unsigned book to. But I find I wrestle with this in my mind as well. :) So you are not alone.

You are a good friend. I'm incredibly eager to recommend books and far less eager to lend them. Only because I love my books and I want them to be looked after, and a lot of people read books incredibly viciously. I read them tenderly! I want them to stay safe and pretty. On the other hand, if I didn't have this reservation, I'd be lending my books to everyone I knew because I always want everyone to love the same books I do; and then I'd lose half my books to people who were never going to read them anyway.

(When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, he had to bring over an absurdly huge stack of books I had lent him. Like, really. There were enough to populate a small bookshelf.)

This same thing happened to me and you did better than I. It was my mom asking to borrow my autographed copy of Shadow of the Wind. I decided to buy her her own copy rather than let go of mine. What kind of selfish witch am I, to refuse my own mother???

@Stephanie I don't think it's particularly selfish if you buy her, her own copy!

I definitely don't want to lend out any of the signed copies I have >.< Well, in part because I figure, if I'm ever in need of money, I can sell the books.

BTW, Name of the Wind and The Warded Man are 2 of my favorites as well ^.^

I do understand. I have lent books to friends and told them to be careful but still they come back all beaten down. Only I can break spines :(

I wouldn't do that, even for my best friend. When I am done reading my books for the fifth time, they look relatively new. My friends seem to use them as footballs. If I have a book I love, really love (like Chabon's Policemen's Union- I gave 4 copies out and own two ), I buy extra copies and give them out. Oterwise, books I loan are books I never expect to see again. Because, it seems as if I often don't.

Jadey: I'd love to swap books but unfortunately I don't have too many English speaking friends to trade with, though it is a good alternative.

Melissa: It's for this reason that I've never made much of an effort to get books signed. I really don't want to have books that are so valuable that I'm afraid to actually use them.

Jenny: But, see, that's the thing. The average book can easily be replaced so I don't worry too much about lending them out. But then I don't get personally attached to each book as I get the sense that you do, so it might be a different situation for me.

Stephanie: Why Selfish? That's actually a wonderful solution (wow, a signed Shadow of the Wind!!). If I actually had enough people that I thought I would want to lend out my more valuable books to I would probably just buy a regular copy to lend out. I think it's great that you did that for your mother.


Sniffly Kitty: Thanks for visiting! I can tell that you have really great taste in books. ;)

Blodeuedd: Yeah, it does bother me when I go to someone's house and see a book that I've lent them not being cared for as I would like it to be. But, worse comes to worse I can always replace a book if something does happen to it. Well, most books.

G in Berlin: You know, I guess I've really been lucky in that this hasn't happened to me. Only once did a book get slightly ruined when I lent it to a friend. But I suppose if it happened often I would be a lot more cautious about lending out books. And I've never had someone not return a book. Though it helps that everyone I lend to lives in my neighborhood so I can always hunt them down, if I have to ;)
And I haven't read The Policemen's Union but it's been on my list for a while. Thanks for the reminder. I'll have to make an effort to get to it soon.

Depends on who the borrower is. I've had books destroyed by people or never returned... so those will get no autographed books from me. I also have people that take care of things that don't belong to them, and those may have their pick of the litter. :)

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