Thursday, January 31, 2013

Books on Loan--How Long is Too Long?

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Do you lend your books? Are any out on loan right now? Do you have any that have been loaned to you? Do you put a time limit on these? Do you think people should make an effort to read the loaned book quickly?

I'm much more likely to give a book away than to lend it. I don't especially like hanging on to books, which is why I get most of mine from the library. I'd much rather pass a book on and have it be read and loved by someone else, than have it taking up space on my shelves. There is one book that I loaned to a book club friend, which I really hope to get back in good condition (and I'm sure I will). It's written by another book club member, and it's the history of Spindrift, a cottage that was built in 1912 by the then-director of Portland's library, and then bequeathed to library employees as a place of respite. The cottage is a special place to our family, because we've been going there for the occasional weekend since before my kids were born. I bought the book directly from the author, and it's definitely a limited edition item, so once I get it back from my friend at the February book club meeting, I won't be loaning it out again.

Spindrift, on the Oregon Coast

I really don't like borrowing books from friends, though. The pressure! It takes me ages to get around to reading them. I have a pile of books from a friend who went to BEA a few years ago and was so sweet to have a pile of ARCs shipped to my house. I thought they were a gift at first, but when she let me know she'd want them back eventually, I made sure to keep them in a special place all together with a note that they were hers. I've read a couple of them and returned them. The others sit on their special place on the shelf, and my friend says she has no immediate plans to read them, so no worries.

I have two books that were lent by another friend--again, years ago! I've checked in with her about this and she's always she'd rather I keep them at my house, as long as she knows where they are if she needs them. One is the Flylady book. My friend and I are similarly organizationally challenged, and when we were kvetching  discussing this one day, she pulled out the book and said something along the lines of, "My mom sent this to me. It's got some good ideas, but I'm probably never going to do them. Want it?" Because it was a gift from her mom, she definitely wants it back. Because I've had it for years and still haven't implemented the system, I should really return it now. I'm going to be seeing her tomorrow, so I think I'll bring it with me.
This same friend lent me A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mystry. It's one of her favorite books, and comes so highly recommended from several friends, that I really should read it. The trouble is, (1) It's long and (2) I read chapter one and it was fine but I wasn't sucked in and (3) There are so many other books to read! I haven't been able to bring myself to return it, though, because my friend really wants me to read it. And I'm going to read it. I just don't want to read it now.

Yeah. It's been . . . I mean, I think our oldest boys were around 11 then? And now Ben is 16. It's about 600 pages, I could have read half a page a day in that time and been finished with it a year ago.

So, what do you think? Should I give it another try, or give it back to my friend tomorrow?


  1. "I really don't like borrowing books from friends, though. The pressure!"<--I hear you!!!

    And I'm also like you about lending books--I just prefer to give them away in most cases.

  2. If you can borrow it from a library, I would give it back tomorrow. If it is a book you probably will never read, even though it is in your home, give it back tomorrow. If she suggests that you take it home with you to read sometime in the future, and she doesn't care how long you have it, give it back tomorrow.The decision is still yours to make. I find I have so many of my own books to read, I don't need extra ones lying around that I probably won't read. I say: "Give it back tomorrow."

  3. I'm quite the opposite in that I hoard my books and become anxiety-ridden when I lend my books out. I dont think I would ever give a book away unless I hated it and the person I had lent it to really liked it (such as I did with Fifty Shades of Grey)

    Manda C.
    My BTT:

  4. I do have some special books that I want back, but other than that, I don't worry too much about people returning books they've borrowed.

  5. I have one friend with whom I lend books, and am lent them...and I know what you mean about the pressure! But I think if someones a good friend, they won't mind if you give it back with a "it wasn't for me" comment...

    I have one book that I want back that I lent to someone who isn't a good friend, who I don't really feel like making the effort to visit--which is sad....

  6. I'm of the mind that we should read the books that call to us unless there's some compelling reason to do otherwise (say you've won revision comments from a big-name-editor & she'll be going over your MS with you face-to-face - probably a good ides to read a few books she's edited). A book is a conversation, & one-sided conversations aren't satisfying for either party. Every YA writer I know raved about Zusak's The Book Thief. I knew I'd love it. I dragged through 40 pages, completely & totally unconnected to anything about the book. Why keep going? I stopped, figuring it's just not a book that speaks to me & that's just fine. Tanks for posing the question.

  7. CS, I had the same experience with The Book Thief. I keep thinking I'll go back and try it again--maybe it just wasn't the right time for me to read it.