the Little Red Reviewer

Lending Library? Or not so much?

Posted on: February 28, 2011

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you love books.

You probably also own a lot of books.

And your friends know you love books and own more than a handful of them.

It’s inevitable.

Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but one day, someday soon, someone is going to say “can I borrow that?”

What kind of lending library is your private collection?

a) I’m happy to lend any book I own to any of my friends.

b) My closest friends get lending privileges, often more than they really want.

c) Some of my books I’m happy to lend out,  with other titles if you want to read it, I’ll buy you a copy instead of lending it.

d) my books!  no touch! get away from my stuff!

And just for kicks, because it’s happened to all of us,  what’s been your worst experience lending out a book?

20 Responses to "Lending Library? Or not so much?"

Mine has to be D…. I’m really funny about the condition of my books and most people I know are the opposite of this! I only wish I could not care and lend them to anyone because it would be great to see other people reading what I love. But I just can’t do it lol 🙂 I have lent books out to people on the odd occasion but they have to be fully aware of what I’m like first!!


I’m somewhere between option B and option C. I have a lot of books, and if my close friends are interested in them, I generally don’t have a problem lending them out. Unless they’ve been signed by the author, or are favorites, or I don’t want them ‘messed up.’ I’m kind of particular about not breaking the spine of books and not messing up the edges, and I know which friends to trust and which not. *grin*

I actually received a personal library kit last birthday – it has a date stamp and checkout cards and everything. Uber-cute!


Good question. I am happy to lend books to most people I am going to see again soon, who I have some trust with. Although it doesn’t come up much with my friends, since our collections overlap, and otherwise most books I recommend I read out of the library, and they’ll have to borrow it from there as well. Most books I actually lend out are graphic novels. My husband’s set of Sandman has gone the rounds more than once.

The only really bad experience I had lending out a book was a textbook I lent to a classmate very early on in college. It took her forever to get it back to me, and it came back a mess. I can’t remember for sure, but I think she wrote in it! Truly odd. Turned out, we didn’t become friends. 😉


bookmonkey – half the battle is knowing! and this is why your bookshelves looks all neat and tidy, and mine are covered in broken spines.

Celia – that library kit sounds awesome! sometimes I put return address labels in my books if I’m going to lend them out, but a “due date” stamp would be hilarious!

Lindsay – we’ve got some graphic novels that have done the rounds. graphic novels seem more fragile to me, so I’m always surprise they come back great. maybe my GN buddies know how fragile they are, so they are more careful?


Actually I’m quite weird in that I don’t care much for broken spines… it’s usually impossible to read a book comfortably without doing so lol I just don’t like them looking tatty or bent corners or anything!


I used to loan people books aggressively, saying “You’d like this a lot.” After losing three or four books this way — not because they loved the books, but because they never bothered to read them — I’ve given up.

If someone asked to borrow a book, I’d do so happily. But that never comes up for some reason.

On the other hand, most of the books I currently own are up for trade on Paperbackswap, so in essence, I have a very large one-way lending library.


I am always so reluctant to lend books. I love books, and I make sure to keep them in pristine shape. As such, if I do lend them to friends, I make sure they know that I do NOT dog-ear pages and that I treat them with the utmost respect. I really have to trust someone to lend them a book of mine!


My family has a traveling book box that goes from house to house. Each person reads the books they want out of it then sends it on, adding books if they have any.

I do not add books I know they will not read or signed editions, ect… If I am terrified of it being damaged it does not go in the box. Just about everything else does.

Once the box gets back to you, you weed out the books you added and see what you want to read for the month.


Tyler – i used to do that same thing. Push books on friends when we read totally different things. . . and I lost a handful of books that way. *Shudder*. these days, I take a look at their bookshelves first, to see where the genre overlaps are.

Heather – again, why your bookshelves look nice with pretty spines, and mine look sloppy.

Selfmanic – I am digging that family book box idea! i wonder what it would take to get my ‘rents interested?


It depends but I think I’m closest to D. Some books, I don’t mind lending because I’m not concerned about when I’ll get them back. It also depends on who wants to borrow the book. Other books, if they’re special to me or my husband, I might not lend, but then I might have a second copy that I do lend if it’s a book that I like to share.

The worst book lending experience that I’ve heard happened to my husband. He had a special hardcover trade graphic novel that he lent to a friend, who then read it then donated the book to a library. Later, we found out the hardcover was quite rare because it wasn’t in print and expensive to replace. We also found out that this friend has done it to other people as well, even when the books have nameplates. Needless to say, no one lends to this person anymore.


I’ll go with C. I’m very, very picky about what books I commit to my library, so, while there are a few titles I’ll gladly lend out, I tend to be a bit shy of it.

My worst experience? An ex-friend from high school still has my copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that my grandmother gave me. I don’t want to talk to her enough to let it go.


My girlfriends sister is allowed to borrow mine. She wraps them in a cloth to keep them safe, so I trust her.

I have lent out a book or two to others, but they always come back in some state of ruin and that ticks me off.

There is a standing rule that if the spine is cracked…you buy me a new one.

I’m strict with my books.


Bernadette that is AWFUL! what a jerk! talk about getting blacklisted from the community as a crappy book borrower! if he borrowed his neighbors lawn mower did he sell it in a garage sale? i just can’t over how nuts this guy sounds!

TLO – my brand new stuff I’m a little reluctant to lend, but if it’s a book I’ve had for a few years, I’m much more likely to lend it out. I’ve got a short list of folks who can walk into my apt and borrow anything at anytime.

Scott – I like that rule. I need to tell myself that all my friends have that rule. I feel like I take good care of things I borrow, but I could take better care. paperbacks especially.


Mine is pretty much a no-lend policy. I have two really close friends and my wife who are all book lovers who take very good care of their books and I do loan to them. Unless I buy something used, my books look as new as the day I bought them despite having been read by me. I am just too picky to risk that.

Which is sad in its way because the idea of books and libraries are that they are so much more wonderful if they are shared. And my reading was fueled as a child in part by an uncle who loaned me his science fiction.

My worst experience: I loaned a friend a copy of a William Shatner biography that I had purchased new. I read it and loaned it to her and she kept making excuses as to why she couldn’t bring it back to me. She eventually brought it back and it had been chewed quite liberally by her cat. My intention had been to sell it because I was unhappy with it. She apologized but never offered to pay me back or buy another copy or whatever. We were still friends, but that has always bothered me a bit. If the situation had been reversed, my friend wouldn’t have been told about the cat-chewed book until I could hand them a pristine new copy of the book. It wasn’t like it was expensive or anything. That helped cure me of whatever small desire I might have had to share books.

Most times if I am reading something I really want a friend to read, I’ll go buy them a copy before I loan them mine. I’ve purchased a ton of copies of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere for that very reason!


I’m happy to loan a book to any of my friends. Odds are if you’re a friend of mine then you respect books and will treat it right.


sounds like my worst experience has something in common with nearly everyone else’s-

I was pushing a book on a friend who wasn’t really into it, and she just put it down in her apartment and forgot about it. every couple weeks I’d ask about the book and she’d change the subject. months went by, and I was really missing the book, it had sentimental value. Finally I told her I was coming over to her place to help her clean her apt, in hopes I’d find my book.

we found it, under her bed, under a ton of laundry, covered in dust bunnies. the friendship didn’t last much longer.

my BEST experience, is when I walked into a new friends house and the bookshelf in her entryway had mostly the same authors I read, and right off the bat she let me borrow a Neal Stephenson. AND her husband is into graphic novels. These are some of the folks that have open borrowing rights to anything I have.


Category (d), all the way. I even have no unpleasant lending experiences for that reason…


I am a type D by nature. I hate lending books because I know most people won’t treat them as well as I do. I admit I’m a bit of a Gollum when it comes to my books (My own! My presciousss!), and used to try to make up excuses when people asked to borrow anything. Fortunately no one asks me to lend them my books anymore, because none of my friends within lending distance read much – especially not in English, and my library consist of 90% English books. The only person I lend my books to is my mother, because I know she takes very good care of them.


The “Gollum” analogy is perfect, Hilde! I imagine I’ll be using that same comparison sometime in the future. I am exactly that same way.


Some mix of A, B, and C. Mostly I’d prefer to only lend to my close friends, but I’d be willing to make exceptions for some books for some not-so-close friends. And there are certainly some books I would never lend out, mostly old editions that I feel are fragile, or some that I feel a particular sentimental attachment to.

Lately I’ve been borrowing much more than I’ve been lending–not deliberately, it’s just happened like that. In a strange way it makes me feel like I want to push my books on my friends I’ve been borrowing things from, to balance the situation out…


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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