Something Borrowed…

books

There’s something special about reading a borrowed book. I don’t mean a library book, although that can be special too. I mean reading a book pressed into your hands by someone who can’t wait for you to read it, because they know you’ll love it. Someone you trust to know your tastes enough that you know you’ll enjoy the read and who wants to discuss it with you when you’re finished reading it.

Borrowed books feel better. Someone else has broken in the pages, unstiffened the spine. They have made the book friendlier than a brand new book.

When the friend has made notes in the book, ah, that’s bliss! Then you can have a conversation with them about the book even when they’re not there. “But how can you SAY that?” you ask when you don’t agree with their scribbles, or “Oh, I didn’t see that,” when you are suddenly enlightened by their notes. I’m a visual learner, so seeing things written down is so much better for me than hearing them, and being able to read someone’s notes is a gift.

It’s been awhile since someone’s told me I “must” read a book and handed it to me fresh from reading it.

When I was a child, a dear pastor friend accidently left his Bible behind while visiting our family. As I knew it was his favorite, I stayed up all evening copying down his notes out of it before giving it back to him the next day. Somehow I thought this would teach me everything he knew.

I’ve found interesting things in borrowed books. Candy wrappers. Photos. Postcards. Receipts. A hair once. I think that was the most startling, the hair, because it was so unexpectedly intimate.

Have you ever loved a book someone lent you so much that you just didn’t want to return it? Have you ever treasured the obvious love and affection someone has lavished upon a copy of a book so much that you don’t want to part with it, valuing it maybe even more than they do?

Maybe this explains why I often buy second-hand copies of books. For one thing, they’re not as intimidating. And they don’t come with those annoying slipcovers that I just take off anyway.

Borrowed books seem to be the ones whose stories stick with me the longest, and are the ones of which I have the fondest memories. Thick Dickens and other Victorian tomes. Worlds handed to me when my own was a bit bleak, a place to hide out until the storms passed, as they did.

What about you? What are your favorite books that were lent to you? Do you, too (shhh…), have a few you have just never returned and don’t think you could bear to? Leave your “confession” here.

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4 thoughts on “Something Borrowed…

  1. I completely identify as a life long book lover. Your post has made me try to remember if I’ve still got “borrowed” books in my collection. I can’t think of any, but a lot of people must have loved my books because a number of them have been re-homed without my express permission. 🙂
    I love my Kindle but nothing beats a well loved print book.

    • Ah yes, those books we “lend” to people that never come back. Well, at least we know where to go if we need to “borrow” a certain book again. If you’re like me it makes you feel good that they obviously enjoyed the book. Or maybe they just forgot about it and shoved it under the bed. But let’s not think about that possibility, right. 🙂

  2. I love reading borrowed books – for a few reasons! I agree with you – I love finding things – scribbled notes, grocery lists, a photo. I also love the idea that the book is special to someone who is special to me and it helps me to get in their head and figure out what they are thinking about. I also like it because there are millions of books out there to choose from and I’m glad to have someone ‘down select’ for me.

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