Book Borrowing Rules

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April 3, 2014 by Beth - I SNIFF BOOKS blog

I treat my books like they are sacred physical objects that should be handled with the upmost care and respect.  Now the types of books I own do not demand this kind of care.  Just like you, I have regular paperbacks and the occasional unintentional first edition hardback of a title because I did not want to wait for its paperback release.  But yet I care for them.  If I drop a book by accident I will immediately rush to rescue it and dearly hope that no physical damage was done.  Any emotional damage suffered would be mine alone.  After some sad book loaning experiences, I no longer let others borrow my books.  However, lapses in my judgment have been known to occur on rare occasions, so here are some rules for you to follow if you suddenly find yourself in possession of one of my books.

  1.  The book gets read right away.  It does not go on your towering to-be-read pile.  I fully expect you to drop what you are doing and make reading my book your number one priority.  If you are unemployed, I expect you to read my book like it’s your job and return it to me promptly.  And yes, just like when my dog is at doggy daycare, I will call to check-in and see how things are going.  And by things, I mean where you’re at in the book.  This will help me calculate how many more tortured moments I have to endure until my book is back where it belongs, on my bookshelf.
  2. And while you are reading my book, do not dog ear the pages or splay the book open face down to hold your place.  We are not savages.  Use a bookmark.  Don’t have one?  Improvise by using a business card, a sticky note folded in half, or a receipt to hold your place.
  3. If you need to take a break from my rigorous reading expectations in order to use the bathroom, my book does not accompany you.  The only reading materials that belong in the bathroom are already there:  health and beauty items.  Certainly it isn’t just me who has read the information on the backs of tubes of toothpaste, deodorants, and lotion bottles to pass the time?  It’s like reading the back of a book but much more boring.
  4. If you have failed at rule three, you had better wash your hands before picking up my book to read again.  Seriously, I will drop you as a friend if I discover that you don’t wash your hands after going to the bathroom.  Even if you are just going number one.
  5. Have you been reading for so long that you lost track of time?  Are you hungry now?  Do not eat greasy or messy food while reading my book.  It’s bad enough when I break this rule myself and maybe get a spot of vinaigrette on the page of my book.  It’s doubly bad when you break this rule and I find food fingerprint stains and/or crumbs within the pages of my book.
  6. Fancy a cigarette?  Don’t smoke while reading my book.  Smoking may look glamorous to you, but really it’s not.  Plus why spend money on ciggies when you could use that extra money to buy yourself books instead.  Plus, as an added bonus, you’ll live longer (and have more time to read)!  I want my book returned smelling like book, not like a bar.
  7. Feeling under the weather?  Don’t let my book nestle in amongst your cootie-laced used tissues, bed sheets, and cough drop wrappers.  My book also should not accompany you on a field trip to the doctor.  A therapist once told me that germs can’t live on paper but I strongly disagree.
  8. Promptly return my book when you have finished reading it.  You do not own the book so under no circumstances should you pass along the book to someone else.  If I feel you have had my book for too long, the phone calls will begin.   I kind of end up getting neurotic about my loaned-out books once I start missing them.    And yeah, there is chance we probably won’t end up being friends anymore.  That’s why it’s best for my books to remain on my bookshelves.

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