The Sunday Salon, Whatnot
Comments 32

Something Borrowed

Books borrowed and books to borrow

The Sunday Salon

Last year, my friends could not lend me a book because I just didn’t like borrowing books. Not that I could afford and find all the books that I want, not that I don’t respect their recommendations, but I felt that I needed to own every book that I read and will read. This is because I fear that I would not be able to let go of the lent book if ever I love it.

But this has changed somehow. I now borrow books, but I still want to own the books that are on my must-buy list. I think this book borrowing started when my bookish friends recommended The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. Seeing that it’s only a short read and knowing that it wouldn’t be on my must-buy list, I gave it a try. I ended up liking the book, but yes, I have to return it. I made a mental note to buy a mass-market paperback for my own copy, just so I would have a solid proof that I read the book, which doesn’t really make any sense because majority of the books that are on my shelf are unread.

As months went by, a couple more books were lent to me, which are Brokeback Mountain and A Single Man. I love these two books. I wish I have copies of them, and had I been my old self, I would have immediately bought copies for myshelf, I mean, myself. I couldn’t find any copies so I put them on my mercurial mental notes.

There are also our club’s books of the month. I will never read some of them had they not been selected. If the book of the month is not on my must-buy list or is not easily available at used book stores, borrowing is a convenient option. Some of them that I borrowed are The Little Prince, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (my copy is elsewhere), Jellicoe Road, and The Historian.

The first three are rather short reads, but the last one is a real doorstopper. Before, I wouldn’t allow myself to borrow a thick book lest I get too attached, but I just did. The Historian just hit a personal record of being the longest book that I borrowed, which is saying something from a person who used to be a reader only of the books that he owns.

I got to thinking that even if I love a book, I most likely will not return to it anytime soon because there are just too many books to read. I rarely reread a book, and I mostly do it on audio (the rereading). The only book that I reread on print is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro not because I love it (and I do) but because I had to lead a discussion of it.

I still have a stack of books that I borrowed (and will borrow), and I think there will be more soon. I don’t think though that I will become a notorious book borrower, but this change could mean a lot of things. I’m becoming any of the following: pragmatic, erratic, broad-minded, unsentimental. Which is which?

So how about you, what is your stand on borrowing books?



  1. I don’t generally borrow from my friends, but I usually borrow from the library, unless of course I can’t find it in the library catalogue and then I may purchase the item.


    • The mention of library makes me jealous. Libraries here in the Philippines are more of research centers than places where books, specifically fiction, are borrowed. Most of my bookish friends also don’t frequent local libraries due to the seeming lack of government support for them.


  2. I don’t like borrowing books from my bookish friends because I’m scared that I might damage them and also because, like you, I like owning copies of books that I’ve read.

    However, I do like lending my books to my friends.:D


  3. I don’t often borrow books…for one thing, I have so many unread books that I’ve bought. When my stacks get down to a manageable level (they’re getting there!), I might be more open to borrowing.

    But what I plan to do is “borrow” from the library more. I need to stop adding to my shelves of “read” books, especially since I am reluctant to give many of those away and I’m running out of shelf space.



  4. I like borrowing to/from people. In my family we used to pass around a book, borrowing from each other, all the time. When I had to move out of my country to continue my studies, I had to left behind most of the books I owned, so I started borrowing a lot from my new friends. And then you have the library! That said I am very careful with borrowed books, even more than with mine sometimes. I think one advantage I have to borrow books to other people is that I do not like writing on them. I feel like otherwise I would alter their own opinion of the book if they saw what I considered important or the notes I took.


    • I also don’t write on my books, so I expect my borrowers not to write or dog ear or damage them in any way. And what joy! A family of readers? I am the only reader in our family, so I’m quite jealous.


  5. Well, I’m sad to say that my generation is not necessarily continuing the “tradition”. Between my brothers and cousins, I’m the only one who is an avid reader, at the same rate that my grandmother and aunts. Hopefully it will catch up. I’m hoping it will pass to my future generations. Maybe you can start your own family of readers ;)
    My Sunday post: How much do you read


    • My sister reads once in a while, and I’m hoping that she’ll read more. I try my best to influence her because reading is so much fun!


  6. Neither a borrower nor a lender be…that’s good advice. I borrow books from and will lend to my mother and that’s about it. There have been too many I have never gotten back, or that have been somehow damaged.


    • Oh yes, there are some bad borrowers who not only forget to read what they borrowed but also forget to return them. So yes, I choose the people who could borrow my books.


  7. Ack! I don’t like borrowing books as well! I can’t deal with the uncertainty: when I’ll have the time to read that borrowed book. With books you own, you dictate when you’ll read them.

    But I’m glad that you’re now open to borrowing books. (Can you keep a secret? With the books lent to me, I hardly ever read them! Hehehehe.)


    • I know! Especially when the book is shoved to your face? I just take the book and let a few weeks pass. If the lender asks about it, I just tell them that I’ve been a very busy boy and that I’ll return it the next time, hahaha!


  8. My answer is the same as that of Monique’s! I rarely borrow, especially that the unread books in my shelf are all screaming at me for attention. And most of the books I want to read anyway are already in my Kindle. :D But of course, there are exceptions, i.e., the “need” to read a book ASAP as in group reads, my curiosity over a book which is actually caused by media hype, and yes, scarcity of a copy. :D

    I am finicky about borrowing, and I’m finicky about lending too! I just want to be assured that the one who borrows my book will take good care of it. I have horrible experiences of lending books to people who don’t take care of them, worst, they even lose them!


    • I wonder which is worse, losing the book or intentionally not returning the book. Hmm.

      I’m glad to discover that I am not the only one who has reservations when borrowing. And look, there’s so many of us!


  9. Hi Angus!

    I welcome borrowing books, specially if those books are rare titles. The problem, for me, rises when I like the book: it will take a looong time before I return it.

    I remember borrowing Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons” and I never returned it to its owner after a year! There was another book on calligraphy, which I absolutely loved, that I borrowed back in third year high school. It took a long time before I returned it, but the owner really never noticed its length of absence … all six years of it.

    Until now, I’m still wishing I never returned that book on calligraphy. :(

    I see you’ve done great with your blog. Congrats!

    Cheers! :D


    • Hi Recis! It’s been a while. Did you try asking the owner of the calligraphy book to buy it? Probably that could help. And it amazes me that you’re interested in it. :)


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