Borrowing Books, Lending Books, and Common Courtesy

So I’ve talked about this friend in my book blog a few times, Carol. She has lent me several of the books I’ve written about in this blog and about a third of the books I’ve read in the past two years have been recommend by or borrowed from Carol. She would lend me a stack of books, I would read them and return them, and she’d eventually bring another few books.

I was so excited to get all of these recommendations from her that I really wanted to return the favor, and I lent her one of the best books I’ve read: The Post Birthday World By Lionel Shriver (incidentally this book was recommended by Christy of A Good Stopping Point). She expressed an interest in the book and I was so excited to lend it to her and hear her thoughts, especially since we have very similar book interests. I felt I could return to her the same enrichment she provided me.

MIA since September 2008

Cuz I mean, that’s half the joy of reading right? That’s why we have all these book blogs! To share our experiences of these books, share our thoughts, hear what others have to say. The experience of a book is more than just reading the story. So I lent her the book.

That two years ago. She still has my book. She hasn’t read it yet. I’ve asked her for the book back four or five times. Each time she’s forgotten. Yet she’s remembered to bring me more of her books…all with her name written in them. I had a feeling the first time she lent me a book and it had her name pencilled in the cover that she was a book stealer, ie one of those people who “borrows” a book and never ever ever ever gives it back. Needless to say I’m pissed.

Just recently I discovered that I was an accidental book stealer and I feel like a complete douche bag about it…which partially prompted this entry (Bethy forgive me!!). But if someone asks you, to your face, four or five times to return a book, YOU RETURN THE FREAKING BOOK! It’s just common courtesy. And if you have no intention of reading the book, don’t express interest in borrowing said book, that’s just rude. And, when asked to return the book, return it promptly, don’t continue to say “Yea, okay” or “Yea, I was going to get around to reading it”.

Aside from this book blog, I don’t have a very good track record of recommending books to other people. My dad has recommended, lent, and given me several books to read. I’ve loved most of them because he and I share genre interests. I’ve recommended to him several books, purchased Travels with Charley and the first two Wheel of Time novels–which I stopped enjoyind halfway through book 3–for him to read. I also gave him my copy of Deerskin immediately after I finished reading it at age 12. At age 14 I finally took it off his book shelf and brought it back home with me after visiting him one weekend. Each of these books went unread. I must admit that I find it devestating when all these people who have influenced my reading habits don’t even take a passing interest when I try to reciprocate.

Anyone else have traumatic experiences recommending, lending, or gifting books to another person?

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6 responses to “Borrowing Books, Lending Books, and Common Courtesy

  1. That’s so horrible that she won’t return Post-Birthday World to you!

    Here’s a story that popped into my head after reading your post:
    When I was working my last summer in Bar Harbor, a friend who worked at a bookstore there lent me House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III. I read it and then one of my cats chewed on the cover. I felt strongly that I needed to return the book in pristine condition to my friend. I bought a new copy from Amazon. I didn’t have much contact information for my friend and people who work in Bar Harbor tend to be transient, so I didn’t want to risk sending it to the one address I had. I think it was a year or so after I borrowed it when I happened to be in Bar Harbor again. I was so relieved to find that she was still working in the bookstore. She didn’t seem surprised when I returned the book, which I guess says something for her impression of my character. Phew!

  2. Aw, I like that story :) And Bar Harbor! I lost a book that my friend Stephen had lent me on one of my business trips and I felt so bad, I went out an bought it. I’m all for returning books in pristine condition.

    I finally wrote my friend an email that was only a subject and one sentence “GIVE ME MY BOOK BACK”…and Dexter, thanks!! And she finally gave it back Friday. The lesson here was when in doubt e-yell.

  3. There are a few people I will lend books to, no questions asked (family, and my best friend Nathan). Nathan and I constantly have about 5 to 10 of each others books, sometimes for years on end, but there’s never any doubt about getting it back. I can’t even imagine directly asking for a book back, and not getting it!

    For anyone else, I only lend books I won’t be upset about not getting back. That keeps me from freaking out or fretting to much about it. This is usually only the case for rare or sentimental books, though.

    Glad to hear you finally got it back, though!

    P.S. You recommended Shannon Hale to me and the two books I’ve read so far have been great!

    • Oooh, what else have you read??

      • I just finished Book of a Thousand Days a few weeks ago, and I thought it was great. There’s just something beautiful about the way she writes, I can’t resist it. I’m interested in reading Princess Academy as well, but I need to listen to it. I admit I’m embarrassed to be seen reading it in public (mostly because the title/cover make it look worse than it actually is).

      • Oh I loved Book of a Thousand Days…it’s really had to pick a favorite of hers, but I’m tempted to label that one as THE favorite.

        Hah, and I totally feel you on Princess Academy, I read it at home because I didn’t want to bring it on the plane with me…and I’m a girl!

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