Borrowing Books, your thoughts?

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Borrowing Books, your thoughts?

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Apr 1, 2009, 2:34pm

Several years ago, I was so upset by persons not returning Borrowed books, that I ordered a bookplate showing a book in hand with "STOLEN from the library of (my name)". That was a bit much and now i regret seeing the plate in a nice collectible. I collect antiquarian books and I often see written inside the cover,(especially of an old schoolbook) "steal not this book for want of fear..." and i forget the rest. I found a neat calligraphy sign in a library, author unknown, which I copied and edited. I often slide a copy of it inside a book a friend just MUST borrow. It reads as follows__" The Yarington HEX-- FOR HIM OR HER THAT STEALETH , OR BORROWETH, & RETURNETH NOT THIS BOOK TO ITS OWNER, LET IT CHANGE INTO A SERPENT IN HIS OR HER HAND & REND HIM OR HER STERILE. LET HIM OR HER BE STRUCK WITH PALSY AND ALL MEMBERS BLASTED . LET HIM OR HER ANGUISH IN PAIN, CRYING ALOUD FOR MERCY & LET THERE BE NO SURCEASE TO HIS OR HER AGONY TIL HE OR SHE SINK TO DISSOLUTION. LET BOOKWORMS GNAW AT HIS OR HER ENTRAILS IN TOKEN OF THE HARM THAT DIETH NOT , & WHEN AT LAST HE OR SHE GOETH TO HIS OR HER FINAL PUNISHMENT, LET THE FLAMES OF HELL CONSUME HIM OR HER FOREVER!" Does anyone have similar thoughts on lending books?

Apr 1, 2009, 9:25pm

I generally just don't. Not even paperbacks. I dislike dogearing and my entire family does it, even when they swear on their lives they won't. Ergo, my library is closed.

Apr 1, 2009, 10:37pm

I feel the Yarington Hex is too lenient, but that's just my opinion.

We lend books out, and make sure they get returned. In addition to LibraryThing, I maintain a parallel catalog in an Excel spreadsheet. I confess to being a tad bit OCD because I record the dimensions and weight of each book in separate columns. This made it quite easy to determine ahead of time which books would fit on to which shelf when we reorganized our Library several months ago. But I digress....

When we loan a book out, I record the name of the borrower and the date, both in red, with the title of the book, still in black. It really stands out when scrolling. I also have a column where I describe defects in the book -- a scratch on the cover, dog ears, stains...

My two oldest sons smoke (an addiction they inherited from their mother). I blame their inherited addiction to reading to both her AND me. I have been very leery about loaning books to them, but they go to great lengths to protect the books -- never smoke while reading (those books, at least); store the books in zip-lock bags before entering a smoke-laden environment... I taught them well.

My wife's niece, on the other hand... although a voracious reader, she doesn't take much care of the books she gets, and generally takes 6 or more months to even begin reading a borrowed book. I won't let her have any more.

Apr 2, 2009, 10:22am

My library is also closed. I've lost too many books in the past and/or seen them damaged. There are only a few people that really know how to take care of books. The interesting thing is that several collectors I know never ask me to borrow one of my books, I think because they are unwilling to lend a book also.

Anyway, sometimes I get a remark that I am being to strict about my books. Then I ask that person if they would be comfortable when I would borrow their car, spill coffee over it, a few scratches here and there and return it either to late or not at all. Or how about me lending a CD and return it without the booklet, the case crushed etc. After these questions they understand. I've learned that most of the people that want to borrow your books, are not interested in the books itself/have no clue on the value of books, but are too lazy to walk to the library.

some quotes:

Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other people have lent me.
- Anatole France

Borrowers of books -- those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes.
- Charles Lamb


Apr 2, 2009, 11:05am

I feel the same as all of you. Never lend books. It is remarkable that real booklovers and collectors will never ask you to borrow a book. Once a friend told me: "I will gladly babysit at your place, so I can read some of your books". Now that shows the true (book)friend. I will always tell them, You can come to my place, I'll serve you some coffee, but the books stay indoors. And if they find that too strict, well, too bad.
I never borrow books from someone else; If I see a nice book in his or hers library, I will buy my own copy.

Apr 2, 2009, 11:18am

I lend books only with the expectation that I am giving them away.

Apr 2, 2009, 12:30pm

Sneuper reminded me of an incident from over 20 years ago.

The teenage daughter of our next door neighbor used to babysit for us. She borrowed the J-K volume of our encyclopedia one day, and never returned it. We found a new babysitter.

When we moved to Texas, she was not able to locate the book prior to our leaving, so we gave her the rest of the volumes. They were printed in the early 60's.

Apr 2, 2009, 7:26pm

Many years ago my wife loaned her best friend my first edition copy of Clan of the Cave Bears. I forgot about it for a couple of years. When I finally got around to enquiring about getting it back, I was informed that she had forgotten who she had borrowed it from and had recently sold it in a yard sale.

Now when a friend comes over and admires one of the books on my shelves, I will buy them a copy before loaning mine out.

Apr 2, 2009, 8:13pm

I have to agree. Lending books is a no-no. We book collectors are a strange lot. I keep two sets of books. My library books don't leave the room. My second set of books are free. They are loaned out with no expectation of coming back. I go to library sales and by books to lend and to give away.
I love to have visitors in my library, but the books stay.

Apr 2, 2009, 10:59pm

>3 WholeHouseLibrary: WHL, I had to have a chuckle when you mentioned weighing each book. Do you check the weight of them when they are returned? Perhaps they might be missing the endpapers, an illustration, or maybe a whole chapter;)

Apr 3, 2009, 1:11am

#10: Imagine the horror if they weight more...and you have to find out why..

Apr 3, 2009, 12:06pm


So far, the only reason one weighed more (by a tenth of an ounce) was that my son left a bookmark in it, and I suspect that the book had absorbed a bit of moisture fron the atmosphere because it had been uncharacteristically humid for the week prior to its return.

BTW, I put a mylar cover on the dust jacket (if it has one) of any book I loan out. On the average novel-sized book, that adds about .9 oz. Of the total weight of my books, well over 2,500 lbs, almost 17.5 pounds of it is Mylar.

Apr 11, 2009, 6:06am

Fantastic, I applaud your obsession.

Apr 11, 2009, 11:33am

Obsession? What obsession?

Modificato: Apr 11, 2009, 12:09pm

One of my friends, who is now deceased, borrowed my copy of I Attacked Pearl Harbor by Kazuo Sakamaki, commander of one of the Japanese mini-subs, and the first Japanese POW of World War II. My friend didn't want to damage the dust jacket so he removed it before reading the book. What he didn't do was wash the grease off of his hands when he was finished working in his work shop. Yes, I have something to remember him by.

Apr 12, 2009, 4:32am

Errr, did I say obsession? I meant dedication! ;)

Apr 12, 2009, 7:08am

I am an avid reader and now a book collector. I use to lend books but would rarely get them back. Now that I am more of a collector, I will let people visit my library and thumb through a book but if they are interested in the book I tell them to purchase it or borrow from a library. I learned my lesson about borrowing when in high school I loaned someone a book and never got it back. When I tried to purchase it again years later I could not find it. I believe the reason that I can't find it is because I'm not remembering the correct title. I thought the title was called "The Pit." It was a nonfiction book about how executives would go on this weekend retreat and they would sit in the center of the room while everyone around them berated them. If anyone has heard of this book and know the correct title, please let me know.

Maggio 8, 2009, 10:50am

I think there is a group with the purpose of identifying books like yours. forgotten titles. Check it out'

Maggio 8, 2009, 11:03am

I have a rather interesting and amusing book, Anathema!: Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses, by Marc Drogin.

Here's a good one:

All those who do not books return
Are thieves, not borrowers, and earn
The punishment Justice demands;
Their sacrificial loss of hands.
May God, therefore, as witness see
That it be done unswervingly.

Maggio 8, 2009, 11:09am

#17, #18

The Book Talk group is good for that kind of query.


One of my relatives used to have stickers in the front of his books with a short verse. It probably helps if you have a North Notts (English) accent, but still gets the message across ;

This book is mine
This boot another
Touch not the one
For fear of the other

Set 18, 2009, 8:12pm

I don't lend books, ever. I used to, but either they didn't come back at all, or sometimes worse, came back in such bad shape that I ended up buying a replacement copy anyway.

Now I just give books away. I check out used book stores and thrift stores for cheap extra copies of books in my own library, as well as books I think others would like, and then I give them away. I find that's a lot more fun and a lot less stressful.

Set 19, 2009, 8:44am

I recall loaning my book to my classmate a few months before school started. A few months later, I asked for the book back and she returned it with ketchup stains and dog ears. Now I never let anyone take a book out of my library.

Dic 1, 2009, 2:21am

I'm buying one of those cute library kits - the kind with a flap you stick at the back cover of your book with an index card and date stamp. I lend books only when I want to "convert" friends to a truly amazing book. If they read it, I don't feel bad if they end up keeping it or damaging it during the process of reading. If they're careless or disrespectful, they will not get a loan from me again. As for rare books and collectibles, they are completely off limit.

Mar 4, 2010, 5:32am

>21 y2pk:
Yup, I have started doing that, too. Some books are "only for reading" i.e. not Keepers, and I happily give them away to people or swap them for others after I've finished. Even sometimes, like you, buying double 2nd Hand copies just so I can give them to friends...
I now keep the books that may not leave the house in another room. Well, OK, rooms. And the really treasured ones have ExLibris plates, too :-)
But it is very freeing to not lend books anymore, which I stopped after bad experiences (I had a ketchup incident, too). I've stopped borrowing books from civilians, too. I feel too guilty when I take ages to finish and can't read under pressure. Now I only borrow from Libraries.

Modificato: Mar 4, 2010, 6:03am

#17 This - - is the group you need. Be careful to read the tips on the main page before posting but I practically guarantee someone will know the book you want.

Am I allowed to chip in here? I don't consider myself a 'book collector' as such because, to me, that reeks of old or valuable books, but I am one in the loosest sense having somehow 'collected' this house full of paperbacks! There are only so many books you can keep in one house so I do regularly purge and rehome any I can bear to part with. I do my best to ensure these go to friends and relations I know will enjoy them - I find that helps towards keeping these people off my back trying to borrow other books.

However, that does lead to the difficulty of having a house full of books I love, plan to reread and want to keep forever. Because I love books, I can't help recommending good ones to other people. I used to think that meant they would dash out and buy their own copy or borrow one from the library but more often it means they think they get to borrow (steal) mine. Sadly, that means I have had to learn to say no forcefully. There is still one couple, though, who come to our house and immediately start browsing the shelves, not - as I do - out of interest at what is there, but to see what they can drop huge hints about borrowing. I resist.

Like others here, when a book is so brilliant that I can't shut up about it, I often get a spare copy just for lending out or give copies away and I have no qualms about asking for my books back again but you can only really do that once or twice before it gets tedious so you have to pick your moments and only ask when you are actually standing in their house with that book in your hand and they can't come up with an excuse.

So yes, the end result is NO LENDING. It's such a shame, though. I would get a real kick out of lending my books to others if only I could be sure they would come back. And there are just a couple of close friends who still get the privilege because they have proved over the years that they DO return books - and in good condition. They are deeply honoured friends who I appreciate from the bottom of my heart and the heart of my bottom.

And WHL, there's obsession and there's attention to detail and you just hit hero status in my house!

ETA - OP - I also have a copy of that curse on my computer and have often considered making up my own book plates with it but that would rather give the impression that I was prepared to lend in the first place if I have to go to the point of cursing non-returners. Instead, I have danced naked in the moonlight and actually applied the curse to all my books. Non-returners known nothing about it uuntil their body parts start to drop off. Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.

Mar 23, 2010, 5:30am

book collector may reek of rare or valuable books, but it is, as is most of human society, all in one's head. my "collection" includes just about any subject one can think of (except algebra texts), and each tome is a friend who shares my life and my home. in general, books are the place in my mind where God's spirit can touch me (and thou) should we let it.Even that c rusty old drunk, Papa Hemingway, wrote in the throes of God's Spirit (and not the throes of Jamacian rum -- he only drank AFTER he spent from 5 a.m. through noon writing, usually standing up and in long hand.

Ago 5, 2010, 8:09pm

I just loving reading the OCD behavior of other book lovers. It makes me feel so normal :-).

Unless I am prepared to have a book lost, damaged, or simply treated with less respect than I would give it, I will not lend it. It is best to just avoid the issue.

Set 22, 2010, 2:49pm

As an author, I am starting a movement called "Authors Against Borrowing Books." I have a different motivation, of course, than all of you. I am, of course, glad when my books go out into the world and do whatever good they might do, but if you rave about a book, which is a good thing, then encourage the person to go out and buy their own. Perhaps then they will begin to value and treat books the way they should. BYOB = Buy Your Own Book.