November 5, 2010

Both a lender and a borrower be

There's been talk this week about the pleasure* and perils of book lending. Maybe it's something to do with realising that stuff is just stuff and that I've got too much stuff in my life anyway, but I've definitely become more of a lender as I get older.

Of course, I hope that the borrower will treat my books kindly and return them, but part of lending is to accept that that may not be the case. I write my name in jacketflap in the hope that it will be a reminder to return it to me, but I know there's a chance it won't be returned.** And, to be honest, I'm not too hung up on the condition they come back in. I'm a dogear-er, squishy-handbag toter and spine-breaker (the trinity of Book Sins), so my books are rarely in pristine condition when they go out and usually don't return looking much worse for the extra wear and tear.

Partly, lending books is an alternative to getting rid of the ones that I have no room for. Our house is so tiny that Mr Fantapants and I only have one bookshelf each, and they are packed in double rows topped with teetering piles. Having 5-10 books temporarily residing on other people's shelves gives the illusion that there is room for me to acquire a few more...which is all the encouragement I need.

Partly, it's a way to pay it forward. If I send friends home with a lovely pile of books hopefully they won't mind when I pillage their shelves during times of reading drought.***

But mainly I just lovelovelove playing librarian and picking out books for friends that I think they'll enjoy. Recent successes include King Dork for my muso mate and the Mortal Instruments series for someone who was disillusioned by weak female characters in paranormal books. And, since 90% of my collection is YA, for most of my friends the books I'm introducing them to are ones that they would never have picked up (or even seen) in a bookshop or library (yay for YA-enabling!).

For me, lending books is one of life's pleasures. Followed closely by borrowing them.

* And there's a lovely poem in Kate's post, for all us book kissers.
** When a book goes MIA, I choose to believe that it's because the borrower loved it so much they can't bear to part with it. That said, friends who have form for NEVER returning books are on a blacklist - two strikes and nomorebooksforyou.
*** I, of course, am a model borrower! Aside from the unavoidable handbag squish, I treat other people's stuff better than I treat my own and borrowed books sit in a seperate stack on my bedhead so that I remember to give them back.

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