15 Rules For Borrowing Books, So You Don't Lose Your Friends In The Process

by Melissa Ragsdale
Jayme Burrows/Stocksy

In my opinion, borrowing and lending books is one of the greatest joys in life. I adore handing my favorite books to friends and then getting the chance to talk about it. Plus, of course, it's always a treat when a friend lends me a really good book. But lending a book to a friend can be an incredible leap of faith. There's always that nagging question of if they're going to treat it well, or even give it back at all. If you're borrowing a book, you want to make sure you're being a good book citizen in every way possible.

In my opinion, books are meant to be shared, loved on, and enjoyed. I'm not one of those people who keeps their books on the shelf and insists that they stay in perfect, mint condition. But, it's okay if you are! Everyone has different feelings and boundaries when it comes to their books. When you're borrowing a book, you especially want to do everything you can to treat your friend's copy with care and respect.

So, it's time to get everyone on the same page when it comes to book-borrowing. Here are some ground rules that every reader should follow when borrowing books.


Give the book back in a timely manner.

Seriously, the number one risk of lending out a book is not getting back. Be aware of how much time you've held on to your friend's book, and make sure to give it back swiftly. It might help to give yourself a deadline to read it by.


Ask the lender when they need the book back.

Be proactive about getting the book back to them, and make sure you know if they have any deadlines.


If it's taking a long time to read the book, check in with your friend.

It's okay to be a slow reader. Just let them know you haven't forgotten about it.


Don't eat messy foods while reading it.

In fact, it might be best to avoid eating food at all while reading a borrowed book.


Don't fold over the pages.

Please, please, please NO dog ears.


Don't write in, underline, or highlight ANYTHING.

This should go without saying, but this book isn't yours so don't mark in it!


Don't put the book facedown.

Always, always use a bookmark to avoid messing up the spine.


Don't take the book in the bath or to the pool.

Taking a book so close to water is a risk you shouldn't be taking with someone else's copy.


Wipe down all surfaces before setting the book down on them.

Watch out for dirty kitchen tables!


If something does happen to the book, offer to replace it.

Accidents happen, but the right thing to do is take responsibility.


Ask permission before passing it on to another friend.

It's pretty common for a book to get passed around a friend group. Just make sure the owner of the book knows where it is.


Don't lose the dust jacket.

It might be best not to take it off at all, but if you must, make sure you put it back on before returning the book.


Don't borrow the book until you're ready to read it.

If you've got a big TBR pile, wait until you'll have time to actually read the book so you don't hog your friends copy.


Tell your friend how you're liking the book.

The point of borrowing a book is to have the chance to talk about it with your friend. Keep them updated!


When in doubt, treat the book like a library book.

Treat the book with all the care you would a book you're borrowing from the library.