On Borrowing Books


Borrowing books. It’s difficult to hand over a book you cherish to even a close friend. You want them to share in the story, but you worry about pages being bent, torn, falling in a puddle, getting lost on the bus, chewed up by the family pet, coming back to you covered in coffee stains and granola crumbs.

Those are the typical reasons, but I think there’s more to it. When I own a book I love, I make it personal. I write in the margins, I underline certain lines, I bookmark sections I want to revisit, and so on. Sometimes I forget I do these things because they’ve become so natural to me. This means that when I hand a book to someone – my dad, a friend, a classmate – I don’t always think to erase something I scribbled or take out a placeholder. It’s never a big deal and it’s never anything worth mentioning afterwards, but it’s something I think about anyway. Are they reading and agreeing with what I said? Do they think I’m crazy? Are they wondering why there’s a blue sticky note attached to the middle of page 42? Again, nothing is ever said other than “good book,” but I started to notice the same trends when borrowing books from other people.

I’m borrowing one now and as I was reading, a birthday card fell out from the middle. Nothing big, but it was kind of funny. Just a floral birthday card obviously from grandparents. I’ve been careful to remember what pages it was hidden between so that I don’t forget to slip it back in. Maybe she put it there for a reason or stuck it there so she wouldn’t lose it and forget. Either way, every time it slips out it just makes me laugh for a second.

Books are so personal and why wouldn’t they be? They’re a way to relax and get away so they eventually become storage units and notepads because we know that this is where we’ll go to at the end of the day. They slowly reflect the book owner to a point where we don’t even realize we’re using it for other tasks.

Honestly, I love it. I love the idea of a book becoming part of you and not just something to stash on the shelf after a week for people to look at when they stop by. It’s personal and only the stories that speak to us and make an impression receive that privilege.

It’s a pretty amazing thing.




2 thoughts on “On Borrowing Books

  1. Can’t agree more with that, I just want to add this question to you: How do you feel when someone comes to visit you and after watching your bookshelves asks you to borrow one or more? I hate that feeling, I always have to battle between my desire to be kind and my fear to lose something that I care. Borrow a book its like borrow a piece of me, it’s not an easy task!

    1. Usually, it depends on the person asking, but I totally get that! Normally though, the person who asks the most is my best friend who has let me borrow whatever book I wanted from his collection since high school. He’s just as protective of his books as I am of mine so I don’t think twice about lending him one, only because I trust him. Same with my parents and brother, but it’s always scary handing a book over to someone new. Although, people don’t ask as much when they see your shelf is mostly classic literature and Norton Anthologies. haha It distracts them from the Harry Potter and Neil Gaimen books.

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