Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I found this post sitting in the drafts folder, written so long ago that I no longer even remember the titles of the books or the names of the friends in question (also: I'm no longer on Facebook). I thought about trashing it completely, but I still think -- despite the lack of specifics -- what I wrote was true. And that makes it worth hitting publish, I think.

 {from here} 

When you give a book to a friend, it’s like giving a little piece of your soul away. There is so much unspoken pressure, like the tension that exists when you set up two of your best friends and they wind up hating each other.

I loaned a book out the other day to a friend from whom I borrow books quite a bit. I am sure this will sound neurotic, but I’m a little bit of a nervous wreck about it. This book: It was so good. I literally would sit and look up after reading a paragraph or two, hoping someone in the room would somehow miraculously be reading the same book, and we could look at each other and have a moment. We could share a knowing look and immediately become kindred spirits. We would laugh and cry together, shaking our heads at the profound wisdom offered by the writer.

Instead, I published a quote from the book on Facebook and a friend of a friend belittled the author and ruined my Friday. (I am very protective of the books I love, which may contribute to my neurosis. Also: I hate Facebook.)

Such good can come from sharing books, and deep down, this is why I lend out books and borrow the books of others, despite a somewhat bizarre fear of rejection: Because it has the potential for good. (Isn’t this why we do anything: open our homes, give of our funds, ask someone out, risk falling in love?)

Words are powerful, and when you find words that make you laugh and cry and gasp in disbelief… you just want to share them with someone. Well, first you might want to keep them to yourself. But eventually, you want to share. You want to discuss and exchange and grow.

It's why I sometimes lie in bed at night excitedly nudging a sleeping Jordan, reading quotes out loud, hoping he, too, will see the beauty and the genius and the truth. I want him to know what I know, to love what I love, to be moved by what moves me.

Once, not too terribly long ago, I lent out another book that I had loved. And I should clarify here that I don't just loan out anything and everything unsolicited. I am a careful book sharer. In this case, the words of this book had spoken to me, influenced me, and I was sure, just sure, they would speak to my friend.

A few days, weeks, months later, my friend returned the book. I waited with bated breath.

“I didn’t get it,” she said apologetically. No hard feelings, no bruised egos. We were friends, are friends, and will be friends. But it felt a little like someone had punched me. I couldn't catch my breath, couldn't recover.

So currently, my soul is in limbo. The book that I love is out, being read by someone else.

And it is such a risk, I think, to put yourself out there, to share things that speak to you and that are close to your heart.

But I suppose the risk is worth it. And even if the book is despised, I will be glad that I shared it. Because books and ideas and lives and opinions are worth sharing, no matter the nagging mean girl voice inside my head begging me to stay silent, huddled alone in the corner with the words I love.


Relevant Notes Blog said...

I loved this Annie - I'm so glad that you didn't toss it!

I'm the same way with music. I'm really reluctant to share songs with people or let people even listen to my ipod, because for some reason when they look down on your music tastes it feels really personal, especially when the words/melody mean so much to you.

Jessica said...

i especially feel this way about books that i marked in. i typically won't even loan those out because it gives away too much of myself.

our home to yours said...

I too love books, and I will recommend my favorites, but I no longer lend them out. Too many of them never find their way back home :( I love the feel and smell of real books, especially older books, and I have vowed to never buy a Kindle. What I snob I have become about my books. lol.
- ourhometoyours

Cherry Tree Lane said...

I have had this experience and I felt the same gut-punch.
I immediately thought, "is there something wrong with me?"

But you are's a risk and one that should be taken.

The Learned Lady said...

This was lovely, and so true. It is hard to have the courage to share a book, especially if it touched you deeply for whatever reason. You always hope that it will have the same impact on the other person, and that is not always the case. But, I suppose, that is why there are so many authors and so many books. There is something out there that will be meaningful to each person, and it won't always be the same book that was meaningful to you.

Erin said...

I love this post Annie. Glad you found it & posted it. I wish I could know what book your heart was broken over, just because I am nosy like that. Ha!

mary kate said...

annie you can share books with me any day! I've used you "bookish" posts as references whenever I'm searching for a good read and know I'll get one from you! Also backseat saints is so so good, probably one of my favorites by jackson enjoy it!

Michelle Porth said...

This is so true! I loan out books A LOT, and usually I will pretend to be indifferent towards the book I am lending, simply for fear of them rejecting it. I guess I feel that every book I thoroughly enjoy reflects on who I am as a person-- and becomes a part of me. So for a friend to reject a book I loan them, feels like a rejection upon myself (if that makes sense). Crazy, I know. Thank you for posting this.