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Guest Post: The Lending Conundrum, A Continuation

A photo of wrinkled book

This photograph was taken by xkrissti.

Charlie posted recently on lending books, and it got me thinking about what books I would lend and what sort of state they are in.

I can be a picky lender; while I will enthuse endlessly about a novel, whether I will lend a book really depends on the person I am giving it to. I have been burnt in the past; I once lent three books to a friend and then never saw them again. Now, my lending requires a level of trust, or enthusiasm on the part of the lend-ee.

When I lend books I do not want them to be returned food stained, wrinkled, or watermarked. I would never bend the spine or fold the corners of someone else’s book, and I expect the same conditions to apply to my own lending. But, with some of my books looking particularly well read, can this standard be assumed?

It got me contemplating further, how do I treat my books?

I like a well read book; I don’t mind spine bending, folded corners, or annotated pages, as long as this is under my control. I’ll happily buy a damaged second hand book, because I feel as if I am seeing how much its previous owner enjoyed it. However, I know I am a scruffy reader, and a lot of the readers I know like their books in pristine condition.

With one standard for lending and another for myself, it appears I like to know visually how I enjoyed a book I have read. I do not need a book to be neat, rumpled pages are a sign of appreciation. I own a battered copy of Persuasion by Jane Austen that I borrowed off my mother years ago, and I adore how well loved it looks. So many people have read and enjoyed it – it tells a visual story about a shared love of reading.

Does this make me a fickle beast, difficult to understand, yes, but it is not purposeful.

Are you a book batterer, pristine reader, or somewhere in between?

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Alice lives her life betwixt a daydream of books, interesting things, silliness, melodrama and a bleak, bleak reality. Blogging at, she wanders literary pastures in search of the next good book. Follow her Twitter account, @nomoreparades, for further inter-silly-melo-bleak-book randomness.


Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

July 29, 2013, 1:58 am

I’m probably in between, but I try to be extra careful with books I borrow. The boyfriend and I actually got in a big fight about this subject awhile ago — he is not careful with books that he borrows, and I got frustrated when mine came back looking like they’d be run over.


July 29, 2013, 8:03 am

I love to see a well loved book too. However I would treat someone else’s book carefully and would expect them to do the same with my books. I think it is just polite.


July 29, 2013, 11:43 am

I don’t mind a well worn book to start with (have been known to do a bit of dog- earing of my own) but it would drive me crazy if it came back in quite a different state than I’d lent it out!

Belle Wong

July 29, 2013, 3:05 pm

I most definitely mangle my books somewhat – I like the feel of a well-read book in my hands, soft and supple. There’s nothing worse than a stiff spine that interferes with my reading comfort! If I lend out a book, I tend to do it without expectations of getting it back. If it’s a book that’s really special to me, I just won’t lend it out.

Literary Feline

July 29, 2013, 5:11 pm

I fall somewhere in between, although in the last couple of years I seem to be leaning more toward loving my books into a well-worn state. I used to be of the more pristine persuasion, so it’s quite a change for me.

Anyway, I try to always be careful with books I borrow and I’m very picky about the books I loan. If the book is already well worn, it’s no big deal if it has an extra crease or two when it comes back. If it looks like new though, I prefer to get my book back in more or less similar fashion. A little wear is okay and only natural.

Although, truth be told, I learned the hard way not to lend books I actually may want back. I am much more likely to give my books away now and ask the person to pass it along after they finish (unless they want to keep it).

Jenny @ Reading the End (formerly Jenny’s Books)

August 2, 2013, 1:26 am

I’m a pristine reader, but I do stack the decks in my favor to some extent — I cover all the paperbacks with contact paper, and I put plastic cover protectors on all the hardbacks. I like my books to look nice. When I see a scruffy book I don’t think “well-loved” so much as I think “neglected” — which I know is totally unfair; it’s just what my instinct is. :p



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