Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Loaning Books, Yay or Nay (Are You a Library?)

After yesterday's Musings about borrowing, I thought I'd do a post about lending books.
To the left you will see the personal library kit. This item from Knock Knock is perfect for the generous bibliophile! Loan out your favorite books in style and never lose another title. Kit includes 20 self adhesive pockets, 20 insert cards, one date stamp, pad, and pencil. 6.5"x7.5"
A few years ago I got this as a birthday gift from a literary agent friend. It’s hilarious. Although to be honest I haven’t broken it out. Another friend got me an embosser kit that I can use to imprint my name into the end paper or frontispiece. That I’ve used a handful of times. Mostly I don’t loan out books. I don’t need to. My friends are so full-up on the books I give them, it’s not like they’re going to run out of reading material anytime soon. The usual process is, I make a new friend, I find out what they like. I give them a stack of ten books, they’re overjoyed. I give them ten more books, still excited. Ten more books, less excited. Ten more books, they protest they’ve barely made a dent in the previous gifts. Ten more books, they start to glare.

Obviously, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but not too much. I run across a ton of books in my life. Mostly at work but not exclusively. And I want them to go to good homes. Plus, 99% of what I read needs to leave my house. Like most people in this industry, I live in constant fear of being killed in an avalanche of my own creation. So when I read a book, it needs to go to a new home. Yes, of course there are exceptions. I have a whole shelf of books I personally edited/acquired in New York. I have another shelf with my very favorite authors (Jill McCorkle, David Sedaris, Tom Franklin. Speaking of, I noticed last night that someone borrowed my copy of Naked and I have no idea who it was. If it was you, please read it and get it back to me. What are you waiting for? It’s hilarious.) I have my favorite children’s books. And to my annoyance, I still have most of the literature I read for high school and college. Some of it I didn’t like (The Unvanquished, Grapes of Wrath, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). More of it was okay but nothing I’d ever in a million years read again (The Odyssey, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Oroonoko), and even the ones I really liked (Wide Sargasso Sea, The Loved One, Three Men in a Boat) I’m highly unlikely to read again. (Aside from a recent run of rereading children’s books from my childhood, and a couple of book club assignments, I haven’t reread an adult book in years and years.) So why do I keep them? I’m not going to become an English professor or teacher. They’re mostly not nice editions, but just are the mass market Penguin Classic or Everyman Edition. In fact, they’re so not nice that they’re hiding up in my bedroom instead of being down in the living room with the hardcovers. But I just can’t seem to get rid of them. I tried last weekend in fact to convince myself a few could go to the book swap, but I failed.

Anyway, back to my topic. I do sometimes loan books. Unfortunately, I completely forget who I loaned them no pretty instantly, 90% of the time. Which is a good reason to not loan them. Also, I give so many books, most people seem to not notice that this particular book is a loaner. I will often stop them and say, “no really, I want this one back. I haven’t read it yet.” And they’ll say “yeah sure, no problem,” but I rarely see the book again.

So while I don’t have a strict no-loaning policy, I do discourage it. When someone wants to borrow something, I often will go through my bookcase for an adequate substitute that I’m never going to get around to and don’t mind if it doesn’t return. But mostly I try to keep my friend and family satiated on books so they never ask.


Kristen said...

So I should feel special that you've loaned books to me? ;-) I don't have Naked though. (Well, I do, but it's my own copy, promise.) And please feel free to remind me of what you want back from me since you know having books borrowed from others totally and completely gnaws at my soul (plus I keep them in a different stack so they aren't inadvertantly mixed into the millions of books sitting around here unread but actually owned by me). (Did I put enough parenthetical comments in this comment or should I add more?)

Carin Siegfried said...

Can remind you because I don't remember! Part of the problem. I should break out that library kit. I THINK I know who borrowed my Naked, but I'm not 100% sure. Well if I have to buy another, it's not the end of the world

Carin said...

That personal library kit is great! LOL! It's so old school! Our library has the self checkout 3M machine now and I haven't seen those pockets with cards in years. Shelfari also has a section called My Edition under the green "Edit" button where you can put who you've loaned a book to that I actually use.