The 4 horrors of book-lending

Today, someone at DayJob commented on how much they’d like to try a book by Linda Howard.

Then, they pointedly looked at the book in my hands (by Linda Howard) and asked if I was done with it.

I was done alright. But I wasn’t letting that book out of my hands. Not only is Linda Howard one of my favourite authors, I’ve lent out books in the past and horrible things have happened.

Allow me to explain the insufferable horrors and my reactions.


They broke the spine or tore pages.

I read my books and hold them like cherished babies. Nothing gets folded or disrupted. If people break any part of them from the spine to the pages, I cry.

Reaction: I cursed all their ancestors and wished they were geckos.


They spilled something on it.

I don’t care if it’s water (and it usually isn’t). People have returned books after spilling coffee, gum or some strange, sticky substance among the pages.

Reaction: I cursed all their ancestors and wished they were geckos.


They lost it or ‘lent’ it to someone else.

With or without apologies, the bottom line is my book is gone and I have a hole in my heart.

Reaction:  I cursed all their ancestors and wished they were geckos.


They wrote in it.

I don’t care if someone thinks they’re Plato with the insight to move millions or if they saw an ‘editing’ mistake and had to fix it. I don’t want their writing in my book.

Reaction: I cursed all their ancestors and wished they were geckos.


After experiencing all 4 of these horrors, I’ve resorted to not lending out books. Ever. I keep them in their shelves, neatly and carefully organized by genre. Not a page out of place.

I like to think they’re happy. More importantly, so am I.

And so are the geckos.



38 thoughts on “The 4 horrors of book-lending

  1. lol – you absolutely crack me up. Love this post, and it’s another reminder we’re so alike it’s scary! I promise never to ask to lend a book from you, and even if I did – I would wear gloves whilst reading it, use a torch to see through the small crack I’d made to open it, remove all pens from the general vicinity (not that I would write in a book) and never let another soul touch it 😉

  2. 1 and 3 can be accidental, but writing in it? How does that happen without total disregard of another person’s property?

  3. Wow, I can absolutely identify with that. I cringe whenever I see someone putting a paperback flat on its back, or even pushing it down to make it stay open. Its spiiiiine! Grrr. My kids know that I get upset when they have food or drink nearby while reading.

    On the other hand, strangely enough, I enjoy the fact that some of my favourite books are well-worn and have that “much loved look” about them. I know that contradiction doesn’t make much sense, but there you go. 🙂

    Oh, and geckos are far too nice. Try snails, or… toads or something.

    • I love your comment! I laughed with it and I think it makes complete sense that you like the ‘much loved look’. That’s completely different from having someone else destroy your book. And you’re right, geckos are cute, aren’t they? Toads…ha!

  4. Oh, I feel your pain!

    I once lent a prized book to my sister (who was a smoker at the time). She kept the book for several months before returning it to me dog-eared, yellowed and stinking of nicotine.

    It’s still a bone of contention between us now… 🙂

  5. I absolutely loved this post not just for the level of respect we share in the way we like our books to be treated, but also because of the squishable looking gecko. Loved it! There’s a great line by Robert Redford in Out of Africa where he’s telling someone about ending a friendship because they didn’t return a book to him. And the guy asks Redford, “You lost a friend over a book?” Redford matter-of-factly replies, “No, he did.” Priceless.

    • I had a particular soft spot for that little gecko. How cute was he?! He’s apparently a baby gecko…and you’re so right, completely squishable! Oh. I soooooo love that line by Robert Redford! I’ll have to remember that! Awesome comment!

  6. Awesome post and it’s great to know I’m not the only one who loves to keep my books in pristine condition. 🙂 Do you ever take the book jackets off hardcover books or cover them in contact paper so they don’t get damaged in your bag or if someone bumps into it?

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  8. That’s why I buy the e-book version first. I can highlight and write notes at will. Then I get the hard copy (paperback or hard cover depending on how much I loved it) and never have to open it. Ahhh, bliss! But– lined up by genre? You and my OCD husband would have a blast together.

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