Our Reading Lives

Dear Person to Whom I Lent a Book

Dana Rosette Pangan

Staff Writer

Dana Rosette Pangan is a supervisor by day and a fangirl all the time. She holds a degree in Laboratory Technology but finds that she has more chemistry with language and writing. When she's not making embarrassingly lame puns, she can be found avoiding social situations and searching for something that can hold her attention for more than 30 minutes. She is from the Philippines and is probably doing something weird right now.

Dear Person to Whom I Lent a Book,

I am writing this letter to you to let you know how deeply I am disappointed in you. Three months ago, you approached me, apparently because you know how much I obsess over books, to ask about that book that is being made into a film this year. I absolutely adored that book and I was overjoyed that you had expressed interest in it too, so I let you borrow my copy, on the condition that you return it to me soon and in the same condition. You see, I’m not a big fan of parting with any of my books, even when I’m not reading them—please don’t judge me—but you’re my friend, so I trusted you and let you borrow it.

And what a way to break my trust. First off, three months is not “soon.” Now, I get that you’re a busy person and that you have some real-life responsibilities to take care of, and you prioritize them over reading books, unlike some people I know (me). So, you know what, I understand. I can forgive you for not returning my beloved book within a reasonable time period. That’s fine, no big deal. But.

There’s this unwritten but sacred agreement between a lender and a borrower. The borrower must never, ever cause any kind of damage to the object borrowed. To break this unwritten pact is punishable by death. I think. I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer. Anyway, what I’m getting at here is that if I let you use something of mine, I fully expect that that object, book or not, will be returned to my hands in the same condition in which it left. So if I handed you a stain-free, creaseless book with its spine unbroken, it should come as no surprise that I would want you to give that book back to me in the same way, not in the sorry state my book was in when you gave it back this morning.

What I hold now in my hands is only a shadow of the beautiful volume that it used to be, like, I’m seriously considering putting it out of its misery. What in the world happened? The spine was broken (no one breaks the spines of my books but me), many of the pages are dog-eared (attached to this letter is a video presentation about the different kinds of bookmarks used in the civilized world), there are coffee stains on the cover (also attached is a link to the Wikipedia entry for coasters), and there are crumbs within a few of the pages (Did you really read this, or did you just eat on it? You should have borrowed a plate instead).

Look, I’m not even mad anymore. Okay, I still am, a bit. It’s just that, for the sake of our friendship and your status as a fairly decent human being, please, never do this again. Learn to respect other people’s property, especially if it’s something that a person cherishes. And maybe, just maybe, I’d forget about this unfortunate incident someday and even lend you a book again. If I do, I just hope you will have learned your lesson and never do this horrible thing to me, or anyone else, again. If not, I will take the book from your destructive hands and hit you with it.


Person Who Really Likes Books