The Dangers of lending books!

February 14, 2015 Discussion 34

As a book lover I’m all about sharing my love of reading with the next person. Especially when it is a fabulous book and I really want other people to experience it.

But over the years I’ve come to realize I hate lending out my books!

“But Why Tabitha!? – You are a book pusher!”

Because most people I know don’t have the same love and respect of books that I do. Not only that, I find many folks when something isn’t theirs – they just aren’t as careful with the thing they are borrowing. This isn’t true for everyone – I do know some people that are just as OCD about keeping their books pristine as I am (though I feel like I’m the only person I know that is quite as crazy about it as me.)

These are some of my nightmare experiences from having lent out my books.

– I’ve lent books and had them NEVER be returned.

“Oh yeah that book, I misplaced it somewhere sorry.”

“Oh I don’t know where it is. I’ll look for it later.”

“Sorry I didn’t know you’d want it back so I gave it to someone else when I was done with it.”


“Yeah I’ll get it back to you” ….moves away and never hear from person again (yes this seriously happened!)

I’m much more choosey now a days about who gets to come near my books.

– I’ve lent a book and the person didn’t realize I wanted it back and so thus read it in the bathroom, in the bathtub, bent the cover and wrapped it around the back of the book (WHO DOES THAT TO BOOKS!? ahhhhh). When I asked for it back they were like:”

“Oh I didn’t know you would want it back! – I kind of took it everywhere with me and it’s a little beat up now.”

Luckily they felt so bad for the state the book was then in…essentially waterlogged and destroyed that they bought me a new one. I have only ever had one person, this lovely lady, who actually replaced the book they damaged. So kudos there! I personally would feel so awful if I borrowed something and damaged it in anyway that I would of course replace the book! Sadly I don’t know many other people that seem to feel the same (unless they are a obsessed book lover like I am).

– Stains of questionable origin!! I’ve had books returned to me with all sorts of stains within the pages as well as covering the entirety of the hardcover outside. What do people do – use the blasted book as a freaking EATING TRAY?? Do they not wash their hands and then just go grabby grabby to the book? I’m sure young children have something to do with some of the stains as well.

– Torn covers, bent covers, missing covers! Thankfully after one or two incidents of ripping the hardcover jacket I now remove the dust jackets before lending hardcovers (and there is really only one person I trust with a hardcover with the jacket on – my lovely Gosia).

– Dog eared pages!

– Been told they threw it across the room! Why would you do that!?

“Because I just get so upset sometimes!”

So you throw someone else’s belongings across the room!?

– Used as a DRINK COASTER! WTF to the disrespect!

– They borrowed it and not returned it for 6 months to a year. Yeah, ok this to me is just ODD! Not that I had planned to read it again at that moment or anytime soon – but who borrows something for that long? – might as well buy your own copy!

– I have more nightmare experiences but probably best I not share them. There are eyes everywhere!

Now because of those I’m less likely to loan out my books PLUS These are some of the thoughts that go through my head when someone asks to borrow one of my books. And what I do if I do actually loan one out.

– Have I ever been to that person’s house and seen where they keep their books, and the state of their books? Do they have books in their bathroom *this is a big no no to me*

– Have they ever borrowed anything else of mine and not treated it well? Or not returned it in a timely manner?

– What is the state of their house, cleanliness, and do they have small children? (Am I mean for thinking about these things?!?)

– I keep a tracking spreadsheet for my books that leave the house. Yes…I’m that OCD – If I do happen to loan out a book, I write down all the books they take and I then put them into a tracking list and their name alongside it – so I always know where the book is. I haven’t gotten to the level of putting the date borrowed in there like the library does – but hey there’s a new idea for me haha!

– If they want to borrow it I lend it with the caveat that I’d like them to write a book review. People rarely ever follow thru. Yeah I’m weird its like saying:

“Oh you want to borrow my book, well you have to do homework for it.”

So do you lend out your books? Who do you lend them out to? Do they have to meet some of your unspoken criteria before you’ll lend one? And oooo TELL ME A LENDING HORROR STORY IF YOU HAVE ONE!

Stalk me!

Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
Stalk me!

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34 Responses to “The Dangers of lending books!”

  1. Emily Alfano

    This post is TOO PERFECT! I’m always pushing books to friends and family, but now I’m almost reluctant to do that, because there comes to inevitable: “do you have that book then? And if so, can I borrow it?” Not that I’m opposed to borrowing books in the least, but very few of my friends and family return them to me in the same shape they borrowed out! I couldn’t agree more with everything you said! I would feel terrible if I did something to another persons book that I would just end up replacing it for them! Although I still lend out to people, my one rule is never signed books. I won’t risk it!
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  2. Silvara

    I USED to lend books out. Now pretty much the only person I let borrow my books is my dad. We live in the same house, so if I see him abusing my book I can smack him right then! *kidding*

    I used to lend out favorite books to friends, and even if they were book lovers themselves, I cringed every time a book was returned to me. This one girl I used to know, lost 3 books out of a series of 10 and never replaced them. She would also return my new books looking like they were 5+ year old library books that had been read by hundreds of people. Worn spots on the covers where the art had been completely rubbed off. Dog-eared pages. Rips in the pages and covers. Cracked spines. You name it, she somehow did it.

    She took really good care of her OWN stuff, so I thought it was safe to lend her my books. And she never understood why I refused to let her borrow anything ever again. If I hadn’t lent her the first 5 books in that series all at once, she wouldn’t have gotten any more after the first book was damaged.

    Also had books returned to me after being dropped in a mud puddle and not cleaned. And once, someone’s dog decided the book was a chew toy. That one was replaced by the person before I saw the damage.
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  3. Joy // Joyousreads

    Generally, the people whom I lend my books to are great when it comes to taking good care of them. It’s when they don’t remember ever borrowing the books that drives me nuts. I lent my extra copies of the first 4 books of The Mortal Instruments series to someone, and this person in turn, lent it to another someone. But when I told him I lent it to him, he doesn’t remember ever borrowing them. Arggggh.
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  4. Litha Nelle

    I have only had bad experiences lending out books to anyone other than my best friend in high school (who returned every volume in mint condition after reading them, bless her heart). One I kind of expected never to get back, because I lent it to an acquaintance. But another I lent to someone who was my friend, who ran in the same circles as me, and I ended up buying a new copy of the lent book because it was clear I wasn’t getting it back. Two years after I lent it to this friend, they returned it via another person- apparently they didn’t have time to drop it off themselves.
    I will lend out books still, but only those I want to get rid of- you could say I’ve learned my lesson.
    ~Litha Nelle
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  5. Lege

    I get kind of…lawyery when I lend books.
    I keep a list on my fridge and ask people to sign it with date they took my book, but I warn them I am terrible with this, so they should know I will ask for it occasionally; that I don’t want it passed further and I want it back in same condition they took it.
    To be honest, this is the only thing I am really prickly about, but it’s a caution born out of bad experience, so I am not particularly sorry or ashamed.

    Horror stories:
    1)one of my books is returned with Banana Bread recipe written on the inside of front cover. :\
    2)I lent a book to a friend who kept it for over a year. When I asked her about it she said she can’t remember she took it and that I must be confused. When I went to her, I saw my bloody book on her shelf and when I told her:”Look,there’s my book!”, she said to me:”No, that’s my book, I have it forever.” (-_-)
    3)I got my book returned with chapters 32-34 cut off with a scalpel. Needless to say, i didn’t even notice this until I lent it to someone else, but I still find this story funny to a degree since those chapters were smutty.

  6. Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections

    YES. I lend out books too and I usually don’t see them again for the next year, or I get them back with dog-eared pages, and it’s really frustrating. It’s not your property, so why not do your best to return it to its owner in its previous state? It doesn’t make sense to me. So I’m very careful with lending out books now.
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  7. Lynn

    Yeah, I probably still haven’t learnt my lesson in this respect and it’s not through a lack of bad tales! I actually was given the three Abercrombie First Law books – brand new, in lovely condition, unread. I let my husband take them in for somebody at work who also reads fantasy and I never saw them again. When I saw him a year or so later and asked he just casually said, ‘oh yes, they were brilliant – I passed them on’. Clearly he didn’t realise I hadn’t read them yet! But even so – whaddya mean you passed them on??? Some people just don’t keep their books – as soon as they read them they get rid! (So I’ve heard). Still – those were my books! Pass your own books on – pass my books back!!!
    Still, I’m just as dense as ever – I still let people take books and just hope that they’ll find their way home!
    Lynn 😀
    Lynn recently posted…Shadow Study by Maria V SnyderMy Profile

  8. Melliane

    I don’t really lend books… Well to my sister because she is careful and to my mother but otherwise? Not so much. If someone wants one, I’ll give it but also ask to be careful. Like you I had some back in a really bad shape. I did gave a book to my friend 2 years ago and he still doesn’t have finish it. I’m anxious to see how it is when he gives it back to me.
    Melliane recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #130My Profile

  9. Sabrina

    “Oh you want to borrow my book, well you have to do homework for it.”

    Lol!!! And I totally get this. I don’t lend anything I expect to see again. Which means almost nothing and only to a select few who understand the wrath that they will face if they destroy my beloved book.

    Oh, and even worse than dog-eared pages is when they mark their place by setting it pages down, spine bent on a surface so that it will never close again. Stabby feelings everywhere.
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  10. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    LOL, Tabitha!! I completely understand. I’ve kept a draft in gmail for YEARS that I track the books I lend on. Mostly, it’s just my sister, but I typically give her so many at once that I need to keep track of them even though I trust her (she’s more anal about book care than I am). But yeah . . . I’ve have friends borrow books and either keep the for so long, or return them in such terrible condition that I buy new copies. Which isn’t a huge deal b/c I mostly loan out paperbacks, and if I got it from a used book store, even better, but if it happens over and over again . . . I stop offering. And if they start talking like they’d like to borrow another one, I redirect the conversation (b/c I’m wily like that 😉 ).
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  11. Wendy B

    When I ADORE something, I HAVE to share it with people I care about, but that’s resulted in books that I’ll never see again. Until I buy them back. So now I just buy books/comics I love for the people I love instead. Last time, it was Rat Queens.

  12. Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy

    Ha ha this is hysterical! I’m pretty much like you, I’ve learned my lesson the hard wa and now I rarely loan out books. Once I loaned a book to a girl in my BOOK CLUB and it came back with the dust jacket completely ruined and warped, like she’d dropped it in water. When I gasped at it she said, “Oh, yeah sorry.” and that was it. Like it was no big deal! Grrrr now I’m all riled up:-D
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  13. [email protected]

    Some sentences in your post made me CRINGE! There should be a special section in The Hague’s tribunal for Crimes Against Books: I’m sure there would be a great number of people put to trial for such crimes…

    I am reminded of a sentence in “Out of Africa”, about lending books to friends and therefore spoiling those friendships about unreturned books, and that reminiscence brought another about a literature teacher from high school who used to say: “When I want to lend a book I love to someone, I buy a second copy and give them that, to avoid getting angry”. Two very similar philosophies, indeed….

    I had a few experiences of non-returned books I lent, so I know what you mean: nowadays, when most of my book purchases are in electronic form, the problem does not exist anymore, but should I choose to give someone a physical book I care about, I prefer to do so with someone I KNOW loves books as much as I do. They might not come back to me, but at least I know they went to a good home where they will be loved just as much! 🙂
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  14. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Sure, they “misplaced” the book. I’ve had people tell me that just to keep the book for themselves because they liked it so much.

    And I let my toddler handle my books sometimes, because even though she’s too young and can’t understand or read anything in them, I still want to encourage her fascination and interest in books any way I can…but you can be sure I’m watching her like a hawk!

    Thank goodness you didn’t post any pictures of examples of your poor abused books. I wouldn’t be able to take it.
    Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum recently posted…Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Book Haul, Backlist, What I’ve ReadMy Profile

  15. Liza Barrett

    So true. I also had someone say “Oh yeah, I forgot! I’ll bring it in next week.” … And then they moved away. It was the first book in a series. I haven’t read any of the series since >.<

    I used to loan books to my very close friends in high school on a regular basis, and they were all scared to death to abuse the books I let them read. One person accidentally got a single crease in the spine and spent a week apologizing. I'm not a scary person. I was a bit annoyed, but I'm not that scary! Most other people wouldn't borrow books from me because of this, so I was okay with it.
    Liza Barrett recently posted…Weekend Writing Warriors: February 14 #8sundayMy Profile

  16. Valerie

    Hehehhe. I still have my best friend’s book after more than a year, but I don’t feel bad about it because she told she had two copies of it. I mean I will return it one day ahah…ha…ha. HONESTLY I HAVE NEVER LENT OUT BOOKS except to my roommate who lives with me. I’m only the one that borrows them tee hee. Though I understand that people DO fold the cover from the front to the back, for convenience. AND NO. IT SUCKS. This makes me not want to lend out any of my books haha.
    Valerie recently posted…The Reader Problems TagMy Profile

  17. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I hate lending books! Hate it. I once lent two books to a (used to be) friend of mine, and it’s been 4 years already! I literally see him every day and he hasn’t returned them. He claims to have ruined them so he doesn’t want me to see them that way. I told him to a rtf least buy me new ones but he just brushes me off. Needless to say, I don’t lend books anymore. Unless it’s to my coblogger because she’s just as OCD as me.
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  18. Nooce Miller

    It’s funny, my writing group just had this conversation last Tuesday. Without exception we all agreed we hated people who mistreat our books. Three of us were of the “don’t open the book too much so you don’t crack the spine” school of reading.

    I once loaned my copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare to a babysitter of ours who was having trouble understanding the language in Othello, and I had to harass her for weeks to get it back. (And I’m not being a pretentious literary snob here, I read fantasy/science fiction, but I studied literature as an undergraduate so yeah, I really own that monstrous lovely book.) It was all beat up when I got it back. Every time I walk past it and see the missing bits of leather on the spine, I curse that girl.
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  19. Chrystal

    I’m picky with who I lend books to. My sister, my BFF and my niece all pass with flying colours, but most others are a NO GO. Some books I just give to those who want to read them and let them keep (for copies I’m not attached too or when I’m book purging).

    Loved this post!
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  20. Chantelle

    I can’t believe people have actually treated your books that way! I don’t really lend my books out because I’m worried about what condition they will be in when they come back. I’ve lent them out a few times, just not that often.

  21. Lee @ Rally the Readers

    I rarely lend out books anymore, not even to family. I’m extremely paranoid that they won’t be handled with the utmost care, especially since the time someone returned a book to me that had basically taken a bath in apple juice and was all wrinkled and smelled horrible.
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  22. Danya @ Fine Print

    The only person I lend books to these days is my stepmum, and she’s pretty good about keeping things in order. But she and my dad mock me mercilessly for what they call “spine rage.” Spine rage is what happens when I lend someone a mass market paperback and it comes back with a hundred cracks on the spine. Like..why? WHY?! Ugh, it makes me so mad.

    You wanna talk stains of questionable origin and weird things inside books? Some of the stuff I see at work would make your blood run cold, I kid you not. Strands of hair. Squares of toilet paper used as bookmarks. Stains from smashed bananas inside backpacks. So gross!
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  23. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Great and entertaining topic Tabs! I love loaning out my books and letting people discover some of the books that I love, so we can talk about it right? That’s until, one of the brand new books I had was returned with a bent and chipped cover. I’ve lent out books that were never returned and even lost too, I mean it’s so incredibly disrespectful. So never again.
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  24. Felicia (asillygirl)

    WHO DOESN’T GIVE A BOOK BACK WHEN BORROWING IT?! Of COURSE you’d want it back! That’s what ‘lending’ means; otherwise it’d be ‘giving’.
    I don’t lending out my books, but only to people I know will take good care of them. One of my friends returned me back a book with a bended front page, and she was so sorry. She was almost ready to buy me a new one. That was clearly a mistake and not because she hadn’t taken care of it, so I didn’t mind, but I hate it when I can see that people borrowing things from me just don’t care about it at all. My copy of The Little Prince, my FAVORITE book, is all bent and strange, because the stupid guy who borrowed it didn’t take care of it at all.
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  25. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I’m neurotic about the condition of my books as well, so I just don’t lend them out – except to my mom, who takes care of them. I’ve had to stop stressing so much when it comes to my kids’ books – I just had to come to terms with the fact that they aren’t going to keep their books as pristine as I would like them to (though they know they’ll earn my wrath for gross misuse of their books!). 🙂
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