I’m feeling nervous today. I’ve just lent out another book – I always do this with very mixed feelings. I want someone to read this book so very much that I give it to them, I say “Just get it back to me whenever you’re done”. At the same time, I know that I loved this book, and that it could all go wrong.
I once lent a book about stealing to a friend, who stole it. I once lent the stupidly expensive and very smart “House Of Leaves” to a friend who didn’t read a lot, for some reason I took him as more interested and respectful than he was. That one came back with half a cover and pages dog-eared. I lent “A Hundred Years of Solitude” to someone I worked with, who later denied I ever gave it to him.
So now when I lend people books, I’m worried about what might happen. I only ever lend, now, to people who I trust very much. It’s been going well recently, but I haven’t been burned in a while.
What is the expected etiquette when borrowing a book?
For me, I don’t dog-ear other people’s books. I can dog-ear my own, but unless there’s a seriously clear history of dog-earring, I don’t do it to anyone else’s books.
Natural wear-and-tear is to be expected, and I can make room for that. But I make sure I put other people’s books in my bag very carefully. They don’t get put next to abrasive substances. I don’t put it anywhere that the cover will get ripped off.
Above all else, though – I make sure they get their book back. It’s a simple process – I read, I let them know that I’m reading to quiet any fears they may have about never getting their book back, and then when I’m done reading I return the book.
In the same condition it was in when it was lent to me.
Surely that’s not so hard!
So this is why I’m feeling nervous. I’ve got multiple books out in the world with multiple people – I worry for their safety. Some of them I know are entirely safe. Others, I have no idea.