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Recommendations and Lending books

I thought that this would be an interesting subject to discuss, when friends lend you books saying you must read this its brilliant, amazing etc...

As you all know I had the three Fifty Shades books forced on me to read by a well meaning friend and although by the last one I had sort of gotten into it - probably numb to the diabolical writing.

When friends lend me books I always try and make the effort to read them, sometimes - like with 50 Shades, being such a phenomenon to see what all the fuss is about.  I always make sure to return the book and in the same condition it was lent to me, but I personally am reluctant to lend books out as all too often in the past I have either not got them back or when I have eventually got them back the person who I lent it to has damaged it in some way.

What about anyone else, do you love it or hate it when people try to lend you books? Do you relish the chance or reading something you wouldn't otherwise have looked twice at or do you secretly wish they wouldn't bother?

Does anyone else lend books out, or have you had bad experiences in that department and are reluctant to do so?

Hi, Apple.  In my book group sometimes people offer a book round for others to borrow and are slightly offended if no-one takes up the offer.  I've usually got at least half a dozen TBR on my bedside cabinet and it has to something pretty special for me to take up the offer.

I get irritated when people say:  "This is the book that everyone is reading currently" and that makes me less likely to read it as I feel people have been brainwashed by a marketing campaign.

When I was in my 20s, people would say: "This book will change your life."  Usually it only changed my life in that I wasted two hours of it before realising the book wasn't for me.  "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance" came into this category.

I used to belong to a book group, and, while some of the books that come under the “books I wouldn’t have read otherwise” category were indeed very fine (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima comes particularly to mind), most of the others merely served to reinforce by rightness of my instincts. The Shadow of the Wind was particularly painful. I would read entire pages before realising that the writing was so poor that my attention had wandered. And then I’d have to ask myself whether it was worth the trouble of reading those pages over again, this time forcing myself to concentrate. Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon was another: far from converting me to science fiction, as my friends had told me it would, it merely reinforced all my prejudices.

(Fair enough – no doubt that was the wrong book to convert me. Problem is that, even as it is, the list of all the books and writers I would like to read is more than enough to last me an entire lifetime. So I don’t know that conversion to a genre that I have never enjoyed, and, given my temperament, am unlikely to enjoy, is particularly high on my list of priorities. )

Recently, a friend pressed In One Person by John Irving into my hands. I have long meant to read some Irving, but I didn’t enjoy this book in the slightest. And as I was reading, I kept thinking of all the other books I could have been reading instead.

So no, I am not the person to lend books to. Neither am I one to lend books out to others. Those of my friends who are already bookish tend to buy their own books, or to borrow them from the library; those who aren’t are unlikely to share my literary tastes.  And anyway, I like my books around me: that’s why I spend a fortune buying them!

I used to be very protective of my own property, and would never lend books or CDs to anyone unless I felt they could be trusted absolutely. A boyhood incident springs to mind. My mother recorded a TV programme I liked on a video, and my friend asked to borrow it. She said fine, and I wanted to object but couldn't because he was there in the playground. Sure enough, his parents taped over it with G.B.H. (I would approve of this now, but didn't at the time. G.B.H. was brilliant.)

My theory: I became a librarian in order to sublimate the desire I have to share things that has always been confounded by my innate selfishness. I give books to people every day in my professional life, only they're not my books to give, they are only mine by proxy (because I am the librarian). Only it's rubbed off on me. Now I foist my own books on people whether they want them or not, and don't expect them back promptly (if ever) or even keep a record of who's got what. I wouldn't lend anything irreplaceable, but I have got to the point where, for instance, I buy a book I have already read and liked with a thought that it would be a nice thing to lend to this or that person. And if they lose the book, well, I've got lots more. People don't lend me books much, but that suits me. I borrow enough books from libraries. (I don't believe I have ever lost a library book, or so much as incurred a library fine. I'm a model professional in that respect, if in no other. My memory may be playing me false, of course.) When people do lend me books, the obligation I feel to read them is directly proportional to the extent of my love for the donor. The people who know me well know the kind of stuff I like, and the people who know me really well know I don't like being given stuff they think I might like. Hooray for the Amazon wish list, it means you don't have to think about stuff, or even bother to get to know anyone any more.

Chibiabos83 wrote:
Hooray for the Amazon wish list, it means you don't have to think about stuff, or even bother to get to know anyone any more.

Very Happy  Very Happy
All those unpleasant things we had to do before Amazon came along! But tell that to kids nowadays...
Green Jay

Sandraseahorse wrote:

I get irritated when people say:  "This is the book that everyone is reading currently" and that makes me less likely to read it as I feel people have been brainwashed by a marketing campaign.

Me, too. In many ways I am an example of reverse pyschology when it comes to lots of advertising, not just books. I resent being sold to, and dig my heels in.

What I do enjoy doing is lending a book from the library to someone else. I am unlikely to lose my precious books, since I can renew on line I can make sure it is returned and I don't mind in the same way if they dislike it. It is such a pleasure if something I recommend switches someone else on in the same way.
Jen M

Hi all - lots of common ground here.

I have lent books to people and either not got them back or got them back in damaged condition, so now I only lend books in less good condition that I know I will not read again, and that only occasionally.

As for being lent books, my heart almost sinks when I am offered a book to read by a relative, friend or acquaintance; I don't want to offend, but often doubt I will want to find the time.  I am happy to receive recommendations from friends then seek out those books I would like to read, either from the library, or buying my own copy.
mike js

I have lost a few books over the years by lending. Just the odd paperback, but a shame to lose my original copy of one or two.

On recommendation: when others on these forums have read books that I really liked I feel a little worried. Why should it matter? I don't know. We often do seem to respond in very different ways to novels. I think it is partly some lack of confidence on my part that my good opinion is worth anything. Still, as we have discussed elsewhere, I do tend to favour short works, so if you hate my recommendation at least you can pass over it quickly!

On losing a book. Suppose you lend Mary Norton's 'The Borrowers'. The reader of this story may look at borrowing anew, so you can hardly expect it back. Until the miscreant realises that the last book in the series is called 'The Borrowers Avenged'.  Wink

I buy a lot of cheap second-hand books and most of them it wouldn't bother me to lend them, but people rarely ask for them (of course many of them are stuck out in the shed where no one sees them).  My son for Christmas gave me a sort of private library system to take note of who has my book and putting a form inside them with a due date back.  I haven't really used it, though I did try and foist The Help onto my book club members, since we had chosen it once and not received it - however people had already read it. My old books aren't usually in great condition anyway, so it wouldn't bother me if they had a few more marks and folded corners.

As for borrowing ones, it is usually because I have asked, not because people have wanted particularly to give them to me.  My brother-in-law, a long-time academic with interest in Icelandic sagas and Old English as well as dictionary work and etymology, has retired and told me I could take whatever books I wanted.  But I don't really need 10 copies of Beowulf or lots of different interpretations of Piers Plowman.  However I did help myself to a Dictionary of Changes in Meaning, which interests me.  

My uncle was reading And the Band Played On about the violinist on the Titanic and I showed an interest so he lent it to me. (Slightly disappointing - great premise for a story, but rather randomly told.)  The librarian sometimes tries to suggest a book to me, and I was reluctant about The Conductor by Sarah Quigley set during the siege of Leningrad.  I wasn't keen but ended by absolutely loving it.   But another librarian told me what a great read Dan Brown's book was and I fortunately resisted that!

I have been given Wolf Hall by one of our book club members and when I said I would get it back to her one day, she said, No, keep it. So I probably will.  At least I am not worried about caring for it well.

AND THE BAND PLAYED ON is also the title of Randy Shilt's book about America's response during the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

This reminds me, Michael (though I suppose it shouldn't) that NZ last week passed legislation legalising marriage between two people of whatever sex, the 13th country to do so, and the first in the Asia/Pacific region.  It was met with great cheering in Parliament.

Caro wrote:
It was met with great cheering in Parliament.

and a speech which has become a viral sensation

I saw the debate and speech on YouTube.  Great stuff.

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