If you love books and spend time with those who do, you’ll most likely find yourself lending your books to friends, family, and acquaintances. After all, don’t you want others to fall in love with a book as you have? Borrowing and lending books builds a community between people that otherwise wouldn’t be as strong—a community built around books.
But lending out your books also has its potential issues. Namely, there are those certain people… We have to love them, but they bear traits that you may not recognize until too late, and you have already lent them a book.
I’ve identified five different kinds of borrowers, though there very well could be more. In fact, you may realize that you are one of these kinds of borrowers. In that case, maybe it’s time to change.
1. The Binding Bender
Am I the only one who is bothered by books being set open with pages their down, like the picture above? If left that way for an extended period of time, the results are downright tragic: the front cover curls outward if it’s a paperback and the spine is cracked and weakened.
This kind of borrower has one of two issues: 1) They are unaware that bookmarks exist, or 2) they are too lazy to use them. And the thing about book marks is that anything thin enough can act as a bookmark. Pencils, paper towel, you name it—just grab something! Please, I implore you: don’t bend the bindings. Especially if it’s my book.
2. The Arbitrary Annotator
Many people like marking in their books, and I’m no exception. Underlining, highlighting, and even writing in the margins helps me interact better with the material, especially if it’s nonfiction. But I believe that there is an unspoken rule stating you should never mark in a book that’s not yours. Unfortunately, some are deaf to unspoken things.
If this is you, it’s time to stop. It’s no longer an unspoken thing: I’ve spoken it.
3. The Water Hazard
If I were to list the top ten tragedies known to man, wet books would be near the top of that list. Why? Like death, it’s irreversible apart from supernatural intervention. Even when wet books are dried, they forever bear the scar of the tragedy—wrinkled and splotchy pages.
If you are about to return a book that’s in this state because of you, the pages looking like ruffles, maybe consider keeping it… And buying the owner a new copy. Just a thought. It’s one that might save your skin.
4. The Eternal Reader
Some borrowers don’t have much concept of time, or at least when it comes to reading someone else’s book. But in part, I don’t blame them, because the length of time you borrow a book is another unspoken thing, yet it’s a lot muddier than our previous one.
The basic principle, though, seems to be that someone borrows a book for as long as it takes them to read it. In that case, the speed with which someone reads it isn’t of much consequence. The big issue is the time they spend not reading. I get it; life is busy. Sometimes, tragically, it’s even too busy for books. But if you’re borrowing someone’s book, it should be at the very top of your TBR stack. Whenever you have time to read, that’s what should be reading. After all, it’s not on loan forever.
Also, here’s a pro tip: if you don’t have time to read a book, don’t borrow it. It’ll save you from all the hassle and pressure. On the other hand, if you lend a book to an eternal reader who also happens to be a friend or family, consider waiting for their birthday and buying them their own copy. I mean, if they’ve been borrowing a book for a year or more, they could probably use a copy of their own!
5. The Book Worshipper
This sort of borrower is one that book lenders can trust with their life. The book is in the best of hands, because borrowing a book to them is like caring for a golden calf. The borrower sets it on the mantle, but not before dusting where it will sit; the borrower delicately turns the pages, and not before washing hands; the borrower holds it far away from any liquids and boasts of the treasure to every friend. But this may be a little too far. After all, it is just a book.
If this is you, consider relaxing a little bit. Be respectful of someone else’s property, but there’s no reason to be the book’s servant. Unless it’s a really valuable book—then maybe that’s enough cause.
Featured image via Underlined