The etiquette of book borrowing
Recently, I entered into that unique social contract of book borrowing. Since I’m such a fan of bookstores and libraries, I can’t say it is something that I usually do; I’m far more likely to receive a recommendation from a friend and then get the book by some other means. But last week, a friend simultaneously recommended a book to me and slipped the volume easily enough into my hands. Personally wanting to read the book and having just lent her one of my own, I thanked her and took the book home. Then what? Well, I suppose the obvious answer is that I should read it, like any other book, but I had now entered the perilous etiquette realm of book borrowing and I was a bit at a loss.
The dicta of book borrowing are not entirely clear to me, but it seems to this casual observer that the following three rules should be maintained:
1. Upon receiving the book, you should read it as quickly as possible so as to return it to its owner in good time.
2. The book should remain in whatever condition it was in when you received it. (This means no casually tossing it in your bag to do battle with everything else in here as you would with any other book.)
3. You must finish the book and, if at all possible, you should like that book.
I’m not sure why, but book borrowing has this aura about it beyond book recommendations where I feel like I must like whatever it is that I’ve borrowed. You can’t just give up mid-way through and decide it’s not for you. Finishing is mandatory, liking is equally desirable, and having something to say about it in any event to the person you borrowed it from is absolutely necessary.
Now, I suppose these rules are not particularly arduous or taxing, but I’m getting all tripped up on them anyway. You would not believe what havoc is wrought upon my “to read” list by having this interloper unexpectedly thrust into its midst and forced to the top! And it is unfathomable to me how hard it is to carry around a book all day whilst fretting about it possibly getting a new, unintentional crease in its pages! Not to mention the pressure of that last rule.
So I wanted to ask you all, what do you think the etiquette of book borrowing involves? Do I have the rules right or as a book borrowing newbie have I missed the point entirely? As a lender, are there things you wish of the borrower? And as a borrower, are there things you wish of the lender or the borrowed book? Sound off below!