Real Talk: Book Borrowing12:29:00 PM
Did you cringe while reading that phrase? Did the sheer thought of it make goosebumps crawl up your arms and spine at the imagined scenario of your precious tomes in the hands of somebody else? Or maybe you simply don’t care; maybe you’re glad to share the magic of the stories and don’t mind so much as long as you trust the person.
However you may feel about the concept of book borrowing, I know it can be a touchy subject to some. Myself in particular, I sometimes don’t even let my own mother borrow my books because I know how she will treat them! I know you have probably heard some horror stories of people lending out copies of their treasured signed copies, only to receive them months later in deplorable conditions.
It’s not only a sign of respect toward a person but also toward their property; you treat their stuff right. When I lend out books, I am super selective of who I lend them out to because I know only certain people in my circle of friends and family will understand how I show my books preferential treatment. I know some people who will even stick a little index card with rules into the book before lending it out, such as “no eating and reading” or “don’t dog-ear the pages” but to me that’s a tad bit extreme. When I lend out books I tell people ahead of time how crazy protective I can be about my books – my books are my treasures, collected through hard-earned money, gifts from loved ones, and some books are even very near and dear to me as they are signed, personalized, and come with memories attached to them. If I lend out a book then I’m lending out my treasured experiences, and I need the person I’m letting borrow the book to understand this.
If you are a book lender, you know what level of trust must be established before you let your pretties out of your sight. But the joy of it all is spreading the love and magic of these stories, letting others experience the first read and feel what you felt the first time you ever read that book. Imagine meeting your favorite character for the first time, all over again, the feelings of companionship and wonderment they left you with. Imagine the edge-of-your-seat action and suspense you went through; maybe even staying up into the early morning hours to finish the story, needing so badly to know what comes next. Being able to give a friend the same experience is something truly magical.
Now, if you’re the one doing the borrowing… I only hope you know what it’s like to so dearly cherish something and how deep the trust must run before you are allowed to possess this thing for a short period of time. Some tips for being a good borrower: Don’t screw up. Don’t dog-ear the pages, use a bookmark. I’ll use anything from old polaroids I have laying around to hairties to receipts if I can’t find a proper bookmark, and that’s perfectly fine. Don’t break the spine. I used to do this with my paperbacks, cracking the binding so that it was easier to hold as I read; but all this winds up doing is making the book flimsier and damaged irreversibly. The covers do that weird curling thing that no amount of weight will ever get it to lay flat again, and the spine shows cracks and breaks over time. Don’t eat and read. I’m guilty of doing this, but only if I’m feeling particularly adventurous. You can never predict spills of any sort, and god help anything in the splash zone when they happen. And lastly, just use common sense. Think about your actions in relation to the book and just make sure you’re taking good care of it. It’s like borrowing anything else from your friend, be it clothes or their tools or any other possessions. If you take care of it with respect and mindful care, you’ll be just fine.
Because in the end it’s all about spreading the love and joy of stories.