#456 When your friend returns your book and they actually read it

Man, I’m a master of the Ghost Loan.

This is where I borrow someone’s favorite book and them promptly leave it on my shelf for months without touching it. Sure, I see it, I look at it, I think about it, I want to read it, but I just… don’t. And then I keep it for a while, thinking I’ll eventually get to it, but eventually I just admit defeat and return it unread, unfinished, unsatisfied.

It’s always a sad moment because that’s when your friend looks up at you with wide, eager eyes and asks “So what did you think of my favorite book in the whole universe, the one I kindly lent you for months on end, depriving myself and other readers of its powerful words so you could enjoy them?”

That is true pain.

Course, that’s why it’s great returning a friend’s book after you actually read the thing. And hey, special props if you even liked it. Now you get to give it back with some extra dents, extra creases and share your thoughts with your pal.

Books are such personal pleasures of secret silent moments between you and the pages. They lift you up, drag you down, and stir emotions and memories deep in your bones. When you return a friend’s favorite book it’s like you just got to share all those secret silent moments with them too.


There will be a special announcement on 1000 Awesome Things this Friday.

— Email message —

“I think annual town events are awesome! I’m from Gilroy, CA, “the garlic capital of the world”. The town itself is pretty small but every year in July we have The Garlic Festival. It takes place at our local park and is pretty much a pig-out festival of everything garlic (we even have garlic ice cream). Most out of towners come just to see what’s the fuss is about and usually leave unsatisfied (nothing but garlic flavored foods and massive crowds), but us locals keep this festival going. It’s an excuse to run into old friends who have graduated or for families to have a day together in their own town!” – justine

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

56 thoughts on “#456 When your friend returns your book and they actually read it

  1. It is so sad to get your book back and not be able to discuss it. On the bright side, at least the book was returned …

    Usually, though, if someone wants to borrow an old fave, I hound them until they are guilted into reading it, if for no other reason than to discuss it with me and shut me up about it.


  2. So true… I am guilty of borrowing things and not reading them.

    I love this blog more and more everyday!

  3. Haha my family and I pass Gilroy all the time on our way to San Jose, and we always see the sign with big, red lettering saying: GARLIC ICE CREAM. We laugh everytime we see it due to the ridiculousness of the idea of someone actually eating ice cream that tastes like garlic. :]

  4. My good friend finally returned one of my favorite books the other day after having it nearly a year. She didn’t read it, but at least I got it back so I can lend it to someone else and force them to read it.

    And on a side note, yay Gilroy! I feel like I can smell the garlic fries from here. Whenever passing by, (like Zee, above, to get to San Jose), I always wonder if that ice cream is any good. I also wonder who ever came up with that idea..

  5. awesome to read: haruki murakami… if it wasn’t for the distance I would lend it to you….:-)

  6. I love to read and when I’m getting to know someone I invariably ask if they themselves read. Bums me out big time when they don’t, or even disparagingly deny the awesomeness of books. But, when someone says they do read I also go to the other extreme, splurge about what I’m reading and some great books I’ve read and then try to lend books to them. Never seems to work out – the only person I’ve ever been able to continuously share and comment on books with has been my Mum, but that’s awesome. We constantly share, buy, exchange and lend books between us and rant on about the good ones. I discovered Shantaram last year and that one has since been round the entire family!

    1. I knew a potential friend would be a real friend over 20 years ago when I got into her car and saw the book she was reading – one whose author I read without question anytime his books came out. AWESOME.

    2. I have a friend that always passes books to me. I always read them because they are the books that I am interested in getting and she always seems to get them first! So we started swapping books which makes for great discussions on late nights and involves drinks and food. That is so awesome because we found out we have a lot more in common than just our love of reading

  7. I’m gonna have to say that I seldom borrow actual books from my friends except comics. Though I read many novels of all kinds everyday.
    However, it reminds me that one of my friend did borrow THE LORD OF THE RING from me and finished reading it. Well, the more curious thing about it is that I haven’t finished the book myself yet by now. ;)

  8. Arg, this one makes me feel really guilty. I have a beautiful old copy of winnie the pooh on my side that i promised my mum’s boss back in May I’d read.

  9. I’ve lost count of the books my friends have borrowed but I don’t mind if they take a long time to return, or if they even do. At least the books I love are with people I love.

    This is one of my favorites in this awesome list! (: Cheers!

  10. Recently gave a co-worker my copy of The Road, she held on to it for close to eight months and gave it back unread. It made me sad.

    Even more recently gave a co-worker my copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, she read it pronto, loved it to pieces and gave it back before I knew what happened. Awesome indeed.

    Nothing like talking about a good book. Great post!

  11. I usually avoid this by utilizing another awesome thing. I don’t loan books, instead I give them. Once I finish a book it’s fair game to be given to a friend, family member, or donated to charity. So I’ll add my own twist to today’s awesome thing. When a friend gives you a book and doesn’t expect to ever get it back, it’s totally a gift. Awesome.

  12. By the way, I love the emails. They’re additional awesomeness! Kind of like getting to the checkout with your sale-priced merchandise and finding out it’s even cheaper than you expected because there’s an additional special discount.

  13. I really LOVE this entry!! Although I’m a total bookworm, I have been guilty of borrowing and never reading…I have too many to read! :) But it really feels great to get a book back that my friend read, or vice versa. I love discussing books I love!

  14. I love discussing books with my bff. I guess we are kind of nerds like that. hahahaha We have our own taste in books, but every once in a while we will come across one that we both like

    1. I just discovered that if I post a comment on another blog from wordpress…..I will still have my green square, if I use the same email that is.
      That’s awesome!

  15. I have to say that I love all the photos you chose for this entry…not only is the awesome thing itself clearly awesome, the photos were also wonderful!! Well done :)

  16. Ahh, the sweet fellowship of books! I met a new couple and had them over for dinner, and we all talked about books we had read in college. Such connection! Anybody out there love A.R. Ammons poetry?

  17. I have forced every single person that is even slightly close to me to borrow Franny & Zooey, but a very small percentage has actually read it. I don’t really mind when people don’t, it’s normally just the way they are (and it’s funny to see all the different reactions to it, some people read it overnight, some people get stuck in the neverending description of the Glass family’s medicine cabinet, some people keep it for months on end and never get the point of it) – but I share an extra bond with everyone that has got to the last paragraph and sent me surprise text messages in the middle of the night about the Fat Lady. It’s like we know a secret that no one else does.

    1. Talita –

      You just convinced me to read Franny & Zooey! I’ve had my best friends AND my sister’s copies of this book for a while… over a year, on both, now that I think about it! That makes me feel terrible, haha.

      Anyway, I’m going to read it now, and give them back!


      PS. Awesome!

      1. Well I’m glad, let us know what you think about it :) This one’s a life changer, I assure you.

        1. We read it in high school English class over 20 years ago. I’ve revisited it almost every year since. Such an amazing book.

  18. i love the part where you wrote that it’s like ‘secret silent moments’ that you share between the book and yourself and also with you and your friend-lender. i always thought my friends’ highlighted or underlined portions were insights into their souls.

  19. I was an out of towner from PA about 20 years ago and I loved the Garlic Festival. I got my picture taken with Martin Yan there. Did not eat the ice cream but I ate a lot of of other great stuff. Garlic is awesome.

  20. At least you have all gotten the books back. Afriend once told me “Lend a book to a friend – be prepared to lose the book or lose the friend” and I have found that to be generally true

  21. Oh my, what a wonderful thing, to have friends with whom to share the glory of BOOKS! It’s a rare person I have enough faith in to lend a book. I want to talk about it, usually want them back, and want to be able to borrow in return!

    Great post. Honestly, my favourite part is the photo of the elderly man reading. For some reason, this really made my heart catch a bit in my throat. I dream of loving books for a whole life, and never stopping reading!

  22. This is truly awesome!
    I love getting the book back and being able to talk to the friend about it and them telling me what they think. It gives me and the friend a chance to share something and to get closer to each other!

  23. Is it terrible that this post reminded me to return an unread book to a friend?

    I was completely unable to read it – it was Stephen King’s Under the Dome. Sounded fantastic however the hardcover was about 1000 pounds and, well, hard. You can’t read that relaxing in bed or lounging at the pool or hidden from your boss at work!!

    So alas, I gave it back. I think I need a paperback.

  24. LOL… I’m on the other side of the rainbow, the person who gives it out ;) and sometimes never gets it back cause i totally forget about owning it :)

  25. I love sharing the books I like with friends! Reading for pleasure is SO important! And when you talk about the book afterwards with someone else that you care about…


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