Borrowing Books: THE Rules

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I think that we've known each other long enough that I can tell you a bit of my obsession with collecting books.  A lot of people collect books, a lot of people who have book blogs probably collect books.  All I'm saying is that it is not unusual for people to collect books.  I have over 300 books, which is very little considering some of you out there, but I started in 2008 (that's my excuse, at least).  Thinking about it now, I've probably spent more than a semester's-worth at the college I'm thinking to apply to.  That's a lot of money. 

Ever since I started collecting books, people started asking me if they could borrow them.  "Sure," I said, "That's cool; just give it back when you're done."  Friends, parents, and teachers borrowed books.  That's when the obsession started, the obsession to collect the books in pristine condition (buy books new, or very-lightly used).  That's around the time when I started receiving the books that people borrowed from me back, some were dog-eared (which Nora and I share as a bookish pet peeve), pages were ripped, stained, spines fully broken, and that's not even the worst of it.  It was not until I finally received (after 2 months of patiently waiting) my copy of L.J. Smith's Vampire Diaries (The Awakening and The Struggle) from my cousin's friend (I don't even know how it got there- I gave the book to my cousin) that I decided I needed some ground rules.  I gave the copy away in almost-mint condition.  I get it back and there are orange-chip stains all over the pages, dog eared corners, and the cover is almost torn off: I almost cried when I was taping up the book's wounds. 

That was the night, I created THE Rules.

These rules I am about to tell you will probably make you laugh or something like that.  I am not being mean or offensive, I do not intend these rules to be that.  These rules are to ensure a better reading experience to the borrower and the next borrower of the book.  They may sound a bit ridiculous, but many book collectors will know exactly what I'm talking about, if you gave a friend a book to borrow, pay attention because these rules may come in handy one day:
  1. Do NOT write in the book.  Actually, keep away from all writing utensils, while reading.  And if you do write, on accident, in the book (please, be pencil) NEVER try to erase, because the problem will only become worse.
  2. Do NOT eat while reading the book.  If you must eat, please, carefully put down the book (bookmark your spot) and eat your food.  Do NOT have food in at least a two-foot radius from the book.  Food might splatter and no one likes reading a stained-covered book (I hope not).  Make sure, after eating, that you wash and dry your hands thoroughly before going back to the book.
  3. Do NOT read aloud.  No matter the circumstance, this rule must be obeyed.  You know you spit when you talk.  (And if you don't, I still wouldn't try this rule with the book.)  No one wants a spit-stain taking up space on the page. 
  4. Do NOT break the spine.  Obviously, you may need to break it a little to get the book open, but do NOT break it all the way.  Especially if it is a paperback (hardcovers can withstand being beaten once in a while), no one wants a cover that does not cover anything (if you understand what I mean). 
  5. Do NOT give this book to anyone else.  You have no right to give this book to anyone else except its owner. 
  6. Do NOT lose it.  If you're just going to borrow the book, so it can be an addition to the clutter on your bedroom floor, then please return the book as soon as possible.  If you read books slowly, please notify the owner of the book.  The owner would probably be quick to go to the "losing it" option if not notified of this condition.   
  7. Remember, every book is a baby.  It does have feelings.  If you disobey one of the rules, the baby does make a noise (whether it's a cry, rip, crunch, or whimper).  Example: Baby Jace does not like it when you eat that Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich around him, you just got sticky jelly on his bare chest (the jelly goes plop and Jace goes whimper).

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  1. Love it! I might have to print this (with your copyright of course lol) and put it in every book I let people borrow! Thanks! BTW I totally understand!

  2. Love the rules! I need to print this out, blow it up, and laminate it. But the problem is that many people don't follow directions so it probably won't help me.

  3. Anyone who would like to print THE rules, is definitely welcome to do so- I'm glad you like them, guys!

  4. Love the rules! I have an addition to it. Do Not Smoke while reading. Ugh. I've gotten books from swaps and some back from friends. I have horrible allergies and when someone reads and smokes that smoke smell is really hard to get rid of in the book. (I've put baby powder and/or dryer sheets in the pages, set it out in the sun, everything - smell still lingers.) And finding ashes in a beloved book is so sad!

  5. I love this post and should send this to all those who read my books! It drives me insane to get back torn copies and for them to be dog-eared....eesh. (Of course I do such for library books but when I buy a better be in perfect condition.)
    Got another addition - do NOT drop the book. I once got a brand new book, was showing to somebody and it dropped and bent the front cover. Trust me, it's saddening, too.

  6. I love this! Great rules! I'm sure everyone in the book blogging community understands when you'd implement such a system.

    I finally gave up with some of the people who borrowed my books, because they just don't understand why I'm upset that the spine is cracked or a page is dog-eared. I had to threaten my boyfriend with the removal of a favorite body part to break him of his dog-earing habit. At this point, the only people who are allowed to borrow my books are those who feel the same way about maintaining them in good condition and understand the concept of understanding someone else's property.