8 rules for lending books


Lending our books out is emotional. We love our books. Part of us worry about our precious books. We wonder if we’ll ever see them again (the books, not our friends). The other part of us is busy trying to give the worrying part of us moral support for the tumult felt deep within our soul, which is also equally torn.

Setting rules for others to borrow our books is easy.  We can half-jokingly say “Lose it or hurt it, and I will hunt you down.

Setting rules for ourselves is harder. I love lending books. I love hearing how much that person enjoyed book that they would otherwise not have read. I love hearing differing opinions and perspectives when they don’t.

I also have rules for myself about lending my books. I set us both up to not sweat the small stuff.

Rule 1
Lend only to trustworthy people.

If I don’t trust someone to take reasonable care of my book, that person doesn’t get to borrow anymore of my books.

If someone whom I don’t trust wants to borrow one of my books, I simply say, “Sorry, but I’m highly attached to my book. Not much of a lender.” And then I send them a link to the book’s profile on Goodreads so they can learn more about it on their own.

Rule 2
Be clear it’s a loan.

It’s awkward when you think a loan is a gift only to discover otherwise.

Clarity helps us avoid awkward moments in which I think it’s a loan and they think it’s a gift. When I hand someone a book, I tell the borrower, “Enjoy this loan. Take your time with it; no rush to return it.”

They have thanked me for it. And kinda laughed. Saves us both embarrassment.

Rule 3
Loan one book per person .

I will loan a book to up to three people at a time. But only one book to each person at a time. Otherwise, I start to lose track. Who has what? How long have they had those books?

Simpler is better.

Rule 4
No more than three people at a time.

Again, simpler is better. I’m not a library, and I want to remember which books I lent to which people, when. Capping my loaning limit to three people helps me remember and reduces the stress of wondering if they’re okay because I know where they are.

Rule 5
Make sure the borrower wants it.

You have to read this book! You’ll love it!

Well, I don’t know that’s true. And I’m not going to foist a book on someone so they’ll love it as much as I. People will say yes to be polite, but I always want to give them the real option of saying no. I’ll offer, “If you’d like, you can borrow my copy. If not, that’s okay.

People say no more often than not. And that’s okay.

Rule 6
Be honest when it’s time to take it back.

Days pass. Weeks pass. The pages on the calendar turn. Seasons change. And I haven’t gotten my book back. I’ll ask people how they’re liking the book, and if they’re still not reading it after a month, I’ll say, “I totally understand. But I’m gonna have to ask for it back now.

Readers get distracted by shiny objects (other books). I really do understand. And if my fellow bookworm and I have the kind of relationship in which I feel comfortable lending that person a book in the first place, that person understands, too.

It’s okay to ask for my book back. (It’s okay for you to ask for your book back, too.)

Rule 7
Don’t lend books to people who return damaged books.

Accidents happen. And no book escapes life in my purse unscathed. But when I trust someone with my book, they need to care for that book.

If someone treats my book carelessly and returns it damaged, I reserve the right to not loan that person another book. Whether I do or not is up to my own discretion, depending on the book, amount of damage and circumstances. But I still own that option.

I’m not obligated to say, “Don’t worry, here’s another” just to be polite. (And neither are you.)

Rule 8
Lend only what you’re willing to replace.

This is one of the biggest stress-relievers. Again, accidents happen. The list of reasons I may never get my book back is practically infinite. So I don’t lend books I’m not willing to lose. Don’t tell anyone, but I value most (most) of my friendships more than a single book. Kinda like money.

My favorite books stay on my shelves. Childhood keepsakes. Special editions. Books I just don’t want to replace for whatever reason. They all stay home.

Admittedly, these are fairly basic rules. But when I follow them, I don’t worry about my books. And my friendship with my fellow bookworm grows richer because we don’t have problems.

Getting fancy with lending

If you enjoy loaning your books and want to get fancy, here’s an informative (and clever) article on Bustle:7 Tips for Lending Books And Getting Them Back.I especially like the idea of loaning a bookmark with it.

What about you? Do you have any rules you make yourself follow when you lend books? If so, share in the comments. ~ Yours, Ducky

2 thoughts on “8 rules for lending books”

  1. I’ve had my share of people borrowing books over the years. I decided decades ago that I’d only part with a book if I was willing to let it go forever. There weren’t many. Other than that, I don’t loan out books. The upside? People don’t ask to borrow books anymore.

    I also don’t borrow books. Friends have offered to loan me a book I’ve expressed interest in. I turn them down with a headshake and an explanation, “They’d get lost in my room, but thank you.” (I’m a clutterbug, so yes, they’d truly get lost in my room.) The result? We’ll talk about a book, and I’ll make a note of it to look into it more if I’m that interested. Or, if I’ve said I probably won’t buy it (I don’t read much fiction anymore), I get the synopsis from said friends. After that, we all happily go our separate ways.

    1. Excellent boundaries. Setting realistic, authentic boundaries saves friendships and everyone a lot of stress. Especially when it comes to something as personal–and to many, precious–as our books.

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