Quotable #67: Book Borrowers


“He who lends a book is an idiot. He who returns the book is more of an idiot.” — Arab Proverb

“I can lend you my money not my books.” — Amit Kalantri

“Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me.” — Anatole France

“I hate lending, or borrowing—if you want me to read a book, tell me about it, or buy me a copy outright. Your loaned edition sits in my house like a real grievance. And in lieu of lending books, I buy extra copies of those I want to give away, which gives me the added pleasure of buying books I love again and again.” — Jonathan Lethem, Quoted in Leah Price, Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books, 2011

“There is a simple rule: practice a kind of generous selfishness. Give a book to a friend, but don’t lend it, because you will never get it back.” — James Wood, Ibid.

“Borrowers of books — those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes.” — Charles Lamb, The Essays of Elia, Vol. 1, 1840

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

25 thoughts on “Quotable #67: Book Borrowers

  1. I see I’m in the minority here, but I so disagree! Obviously when I lend a book I don’t have complete faith it will come back to me, but the physical copy of the book is just an object, and clinging to it seems a bit silly. There are so many ways to get access to books (at least, for me in my comfortable Western lifestyle and as someone who uses English): to buy new or second-hand, to buy or hire an ebook, to use a library, to borrow from an individual. I’m not a collector of rare books, so if I need a copy of something I’ve lent out and lost, chances are I can get hold of it relatively easily. Books sitting on shelves aren’t fulfilling their purpose of being read (perhaps not their only purpose, but a significant one).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As I stated somewhere, I don’t “lend” books. However, if someone wants a book in my collection, I would gladly give it as a gift as I have done many times. Replacing them these days is a lot easier.

      Personally, books don’t hold much sentimental value to me, but others may feel differently, and I can’t fault them for that.

      Also, you have to understand that not all people can easily acquire books like us. For example, during my childhood, books were luxury items since we even had difficulty affording food at times. Also, we lived in a rural area that don’t have bookstores or libraries. So, all I can read at the time were my textbooks and newspapers. While I didn’t own any books (besides my textbooks and a few magazines), I would have felt bad if, say, I owned a book and someone borrowed it without returning it to me…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe it’s just the Kalantri and Lamb quotations I take issue with, then – of course different readers have different circumstances and different outlooks on what books mean to them – I would never expect someone to lend me a book, but I’m also a very safe pair of hands if they do! I remember lending a brand new book to my teacher so she could teach from it for the length of the class. The first thing she did was crack the spine and roll the pages around, and I almost cried! My attitude to books has definitely changed since then.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I have never borrowed a book (except from libraries), though if I do, I would take care of it and return it promptly. During tough times, I had to borrow money several times from people and I’m proud to say that I never defaulted a debt. I would work double time to ensure I could pay up since I don’t want to destroy friendships just because of mere money.

        I cringe every time I see someone breaks a book’s spine. It doesn’t matter who owns the book…

        Liked by 1 person

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