Why I don’t lend out my books anymore

In March last year, a friend asked whether she could borrow my copies of The Hobbit, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes because mine are English-language versions.

Yesterday, I got them back.

I treat my books with respect. You can tell when my paperbacks are well read, through natural wear and tear, but I do not fold page corners to mark my place nor do I spill drinks over them or bend the cover or spine. In some books, I highlighted words I had to look up in order to improve my vocabulary, but I did so in the knowledge that they are my books and that this would ultimately simply show how far I’ve come as a reader and in learning foreign languages. I would never deface a book that is not my own.

My copy of The Hobbit is very precious to me (pun unintended, but quite fitting). It’s the very first book I read cover to cover in English. It’s the book I turn to for comfort. I read it once a year. It’s like a friend, sitting there on the shelf. The one that started my love for literature, that introduced me to J.R.R. Tolkien and some of my all-time favourite characters.

This is the condition it was returned to me in:

As you can see in the photos, page corners were turned, front and back cover bent in some places and creased in others and there’s a mysterious stain on the top of most of the pages, which I assume is a water stain.

This is definitely not the condition it left my flat in. This book has been to three countries with me and survived those 12 years better than a cross-town trip in my friend’s handbag!

I wouldn’t dare to treat someone else’s books this way! The other two books are in better shape, but I’ve made a decision.

My books stay with me, unless you actually are a librarian.



9 thoughts on “Why I don’t lend out my books anymore”

  1. I don’t lend out books that I love like you love those. However, I do buy “lending copies” whenever I find them on sale. This way, I can still share my love for a book and keep my own copy in any condition in which I choose. I have lending copies (usually two or three at any given point) of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, The Rain God by Arturo Islas, Migrant Souls by Islas, The Godfather by Mario Puzo, and a few others. That way, if I don’t get back a lending copy, it’s not a big deal…those can be replaced. And of course, I came to this practice exactly for the same reasons you came to the decision of not lending out the books. Good for you! You have to keep what is dear to you to yourself!


    1. I never used to have a problem with this, I used to swap books with my best friend all the time growing up and we still managed to keep them in good condition.
      English books are hard to come by in my town, most of my books I bought when I was living abroad. I’d been helping my friend with her English and she said she really wanted to read an English book, so the first one that came to mind was the one I first read in English. I mean, if I could do it aged 12 or 13, she should be able to understand The Hobbit aged 28… (English is compulsory at school so she had a working knowledge of the language). It’s the utter lack of respect for my property that gets me. And she had the galls to say “oh dear, that wasn’t me, was it?” Erm… yes it was! If this had been one of my fleamarket finds or an old library book I would still have minded but not that much. But from now on, if anyone wants to read in English they can try the library or buying them themselves like I did. 🙂


  2. That’s awful! Why would someone borrow a book and then treat it that way? Especially Tolkien 🙂 I reread The Lord of the Rings every year. I guess if I lend it out, it’d be better to buy the other person a copy!


  3. I don’t let anybody borrow my books either. I let somebody borrow my favourites, and, four years later, and replacement books bought, they were returned. Grr. I broke my own rule, recently, and lent books to someone, and they were never returned.


  4. Sorry about your books! I’m glad you got them back though 🙂 I once let a teacher of mine borrow a book and it came back with mysterious black stains on some of the pages that look like sharpie. I haven’t let anyone borrow a book since and I don’t plan on doing so again.


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