Lending books: share your horror stories – The Guardian (blog)

Do you ever let someone borrow a book that really matters to you? Reader conedison asked this excellent question in our Tips, links and suggestions blog recently. The vanishment of borrowed books is one of the world’s mysteries, only comparable to lost pens – where do they all go?

From Books editor Claire Armitstead:


I used to be a reckless lender, but I’ve grown wary over time. One friend died before he could return a favourite book, another moved house and sent her entire library off to Oxfam. Nothing to be done in those circumstances, though I have been known to resort to guerrilla action: on one occasion, when I had agreed to feed a neighbour’s cat, I managed to “liberate” three books and a video which the neighbour swore she had returned or never borrowed.

Guardian journalist Emma Johns reflects on how scarring lending experiences can be:


When I was at junior school, Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain were my favourite books. I loved them so much I decided that when I was a grown up my children would be named Taran and Eilonwy after the lead characters. In my teenage years, reminiscing with a best friend about the books we would happily re-read from our childhood, I had gushed about The Black Cauldron and The High King and begged my friend to read them. I can still remember taking them into school in a carrier bag and pushing them into her hands with evangelistic zeal. It was the last I ever saw of them; whenever I asked if she had read them she said ‘not yet’, and when we went our separate ways at sixth form I forgot to ask for them back. I bet she still hasn’t read them, and even the thought of it gives me indigestion.

conedison continued:


Last night my youngest daughter who’s leaving the country for her gap year asked me if she could take with her my copy of Stoner [by John Williams]. Actually, she asked her mother to ask me on her behalf, figuring it would be harder for me to say no to both of them. I went into my daughter’s bedroom, told her it was ok and then she asked me if she could make pencil marks in it … the horror, the horror.

ItsAnOutrage2 shares their caution, but proposes a system for dealing with awkward requests:


Now it’s your turn. Share your stories in the comments, and we’ll add a selection to the piece.