Author Topic: Houseguests and book "borrowing"  (Read 6282 times)

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JillyJ

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Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« on: March 22, 2012, 09:50:56 AM »
I have a question about houseguests and books. 

A friend of my husband (I’ll call him Gary) is staying with us for a few days.  He met up with my husband for drinks/dinner last evening before coming home.  I got home before them and was just relaxing when they came in.   I greeted them at the door and said hello to the Gary.  A little bit of chit chat at the door and then my husband heads down to the kitchen.  Apparently they hadn’t eaten out, but had brought home take-out.  Gary begins to follow him down the hall.  Because our place is on the small side we have lined the main hallway of the house with tall bookcases for our extensive book collections.  No one has ever given it more than a cursory glance and a comment (“Oh, this looks great.”  “Where did you get these shelves.” “What a great space-saver for the other rooms.” Etc.).  Gary, however, stops and starts looking at all the books (no real problem with that), but then starts reading out and commenting on titles. 

The section he seems to have stopped on and become fascinated with is my romance novels, which, of course, have some crazy titles (thanks Johanna Lindsey, lol).  Anyway, I just kind of laugh and say, “Oh yeah, romance novels, great stuff.” And proceed to the kitchen.  But he doesn’t follow.  He starts pulling them out and reading book jackets and such, all the while making various comments.  He finally picks up one, reads the title and part of the jacket aloud, and then tosses it into the spare bedroom declaring that he’s “picked his bedtime reading.”  I was kind of stunned.  First, he picked the raciest book there, lol, so I was a little mortified (though I had a good chuckle later when I told my husband some of the content of the book his friend had “borrowed” and he says (disappointed sounding), “How come I’ve never seen this book?”  - this book has been sitting there for 2 years – he just never looks at my books – lol). 

The second thing is, I am very particular about my books.  I don’t dog ear pages.  I read them very gently (books I’ve read over and over again show very little wear and tear).  Inevitably, anytime I loan a book out, it comes back with creases in the cover, breaks in the spine, etc., which is why I don’t loan out anything of importance to me.  I found the whole thing very off-putting, but didn’t say anything because it seemed like anything I might say would be rude and come across as an over-reaction.  When he finally joined us in the kitchen he made some comment about how maybe he’d “learn something about women.”  All I could think was that he was only going to learn about one woman – namely me and my penchant for romance novels a little on the smutty side. 

I guess my question is – does a houseguest have the right to just “check out a book” when the books are in the open hallway?  Was Gary rude?  He didn’t so much as ask and I felt it weird that he took a book that was clearly mine, when he’s not even my friend.  Would any of you said anything - if so, what?  Thoughts?

Instantkarma

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2012, 09:57:22 AM »
i think there are two issues
first garys being a bit of a jerk for making fun of your reading choices and i can understand why u are upset - women get a hard time for liking romance novesl when there is nothing wrong with them (im a huge fan myself) so hes totally wrong in that sense

the second issue is if houseguests get to read books and ime if someone is close enough to spend a couple of days i would think they are close enough to borrow a book to read while they are visiting thats the way its always been with myn friends and family  so that is what i would expect.  BUT if u said "oh im sorry im so fussy about my books i dont lend them out, i know its silly but i cant stand to have them out of my site" i would understand and it wouldnt be a big deal.

O'Dell

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2012, 10:02:58 AM »
He should have asked since you were right there. However, house guests shouldn't have to ask if they are looking for reading material when the owners aren't available, say in the middle of the night. Under the circumstances he was rude, although I wouldn't have minded personally.

I think you would have been fine giving him a warning on the subject matter and mentioning that you wanted it treated nicely with no dog earring, etc.

I hide those type of books just like other pr0n. :P

Edited to erase evidence of my smutty mind.  :-[
« Last Edit: March 22, 2012, 10:11:23 AM by O'Dell »
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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JillyJ

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2012, 10:06:52 AM »
i think there are two issues
first garys being a bit of a jerk for making fun of your reading choices and i can understand why u are upset - women get a hard time for liking romance novesl when there is nothing wrong with them (im a huge fan myself) so hes totally wrong in that sense

Yeah - that annoyed me a bit, I admit. 

the second issue is if houseguests get to read books and ime if someone is close enough to spend a couple of days i would think they are close enough to borrow a book to read while they are visiting thats the way its always been with myn friends and family

Well, I would agree if he were MY friend or family, but I think it's odd for a guest of my husband to choose a book that is quite clearly mine.  I've hung out with this guy maybe a dozen times since I've been with my husband (4.5 years). 

JillyJ

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2012, 10:11:40 AM »
I hide those type of books just like other pr0n. :P

LOL - it never occured to me to hide it, but I might now.  I don't know.  I guess because I always travel with my own books and magazines, it would never occur to me to take books out of someone else's bookcases and start reading - especially without asking. 

Maybe I should have said, "If you're looking for something to read, husband's shelves are the next two cases over - I'm sure you'll find something great there." 

Yvaine

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2012, 10:15:49 AM »
I think it would be okay to ask to borrow a book, and sometimes you can just read one if you know your audience. I have a really close friend whose bookshelf is fair game for me and vice versa.

But I hate hate hate it when people start picking up my books and reading their titles derisively. I think it's horribly rude, and I have an acquaintance who doesn't get to see me that often anymore, in large part because he does that. It also bothers me that your guest actually threw it!

amylouky

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2012, 10:17:28 AM »
This wouldn't bother me at all, but then, I'm not too particular about most of my books (I read them in the bathtub.. lol). You didn't specify what the comments he was making were, so I don't know if he was so much making fun of your reading choices as just commenting on them? I think if you have your books prominently on display in your house, you should expect that people will look at them. I think if there are books that are particularly special to you then you might want to look into getting a lockable glassfront case for them.

It would have been better for him to ask if you minded if he borrowed the book, rather than just taking it. I think though that reading material, if out in the open, is kind of expected to be available, especially for someone that you are close enough with to have as a houseguest.

I really think the best thing in this situation would have been for DH to speak up when Gary took the book, maybe something like, "Well.. that one's JillyJ's book.. make sure you treat it with kid gloves, she likes to keep them nice."

NyaChan

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2012, 10:21:30 AM »
I think it was very rude of him to just take the book without asking.  I also found it boorish of him to make such a show of reading out the titles and really it seemed like he was mocking your choice of books - not okay, I am very protective of books and see someone's reading choices as a very personal thing. 

I think you could have made your preferences for treating books with care clear to him.  I don't think you could have politely refused to lend him the book unless you indicated that you had planned to read it yourself that night, but I do think you could have gotten away with a good natured "Hey!  Stop making fun of my books!" and a shocked "Did you just throw my book?"

JillyJ

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2012, 10:46:15 AM »
I think if there are books that are particularly special to you then you might want to look into getting a lockable glassfront case for them.

Like I said, I have no problem with looking.  But with the exception of what's in closests, everything in a house is on prominent display.  Should he pick up and fondle all of our nicknacks?  Use our computers without asking?  Sit at my craft station and start making something?  What makes books different?

As for his comments - they were mostly innocuous, it was his tone (and some facial expressions - eye brow raising, etc - when I was standing in the hallway) that was the problem.  Like I expected, "oooh la la" to come out after every read.  LOL  But clearly the one book sparked his interest enough to pick it up, so not all bad, I suppose.  He also made some comments once in the kitchen about the size of the romance novel industry, and his comments were kind of surprise, but not necessarily judgement. 

It would have been better for him to ask if you minded if he borrowed the book, rather than just taking it. I think though that reading material, if out in the open, is kind of expected to be available, especially for someone that you are close enough with to have as a houseguest.

I agree with that sentiment when talking about magazines in the bathroom and coffee table books.  I'm just not sure an entire book collection is fair game just because it's in the open (which it actually wouldn't be if we had any choice in the matter).  Particularly since he had just walked in.  He literally did not make it more than 6 feet into the house (where the bookcases begin) before he helped himself to something that belonged to me.  And he's close enough to my husband to be a houseguest, but I don't know him that well.

I don't know - like I said, not a huge deal, I was just wondering if people thought the books were fair game - so far, I guess that's a yes.  LOL

"Did you just throw my book?"

I should have, I was just too stunned, but  I was thinking...."Ahhhhh....what are you doing?!" in my head, but said nothing and then just found a moment to go down the hall to be sure the book had landed (safely) on the bed. 

Talley

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2012, 11:13:00 AM »
That's why I keep my, um  :-[  Regency Romance collection stashed away out of sight...  ;)

Seriously though, to me a lot would depend on who exactly the houseguest is. If one of my friends was staying with us and needed reading material, this would not bother me at all. I trust them to return the book in the same condition they found it in. And besides, all of my friends would ask first if they can borrow a book and not just grab one off the shelf. They also would not make fun of my book collection, even if they managed to unearth the somewhat racier stuff.

Now, if a friend of DH was staying with us - so someone I might know less well - it might depend on which book. There are books that I would only lend to the most trusted of my friends, and no one I do not know very well and trust would be allowed to borrow them, even if the book never left my house (yes, I take my books very seriously). Other books might be fair game, but I still would expect the guest to ask me first - and I mean, ask me, not DH, even if the guest was more DH's guest than mine. I don't really consider my books to be part of the normal hospitality provided in our home.


DavidH

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2012, 11:37:52 AM »
I think it's a little rude, he could have said something like do you mind if I borrow one, but then it's difficult to say, actually yes I do.  It may not have occurred to him that it was your book as distinct from your husband's.  I'd assume that asking one part of a couple was enough for anything other than clothing. 

I think when you invite someone over and have things out, you invite polite comment, as in what a nice xyz.  Snarky comments about anything are rude.   

ilrag

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2012, 12:12:34 PM »
I've had people look at my books and comment on them on more then one occasion.  If I didn't want some one to see one of them for any reason I'd not put it in the common area of a house.

I think it would have been fine if you said "please treat that book gently, I'm into keeping them looking new"

Surianne

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2012, 12:40:55 PM »
I've had people look at my books and comment on them on more then one occasion.  If I didn't want some one to see one of them for any reason I'd not put it in the common area of a house.

I think it would have been fine if you said "please treat that book gently, I'm into keeping them looking new"

I agree on both points.  I'll confess I've made comments about the titles of other people's books -- I read and write romance novels and the titles are hilarious!  Most of my friends who are romance readers get a kick out of it so it probably wouldn't have occurred to me that this would offend you. 

I also think that if you're embarrassed by the smutty nature of the book, they shouldn't be out in the open.  It's only natural for people to look at them.  I'd assume if the bookshelves were out in a public room it was okay to look at the books.  I'm a book nerd so I automatically gravitate towards a bookshelf.  Many people don't think there's anything wrong with reading books with heavy sexual content so it would have surprised me that you'd have an issue with it.

I also agree you can ask him to treat the book gently.  I do think he should have phrased it more like "May I take this one to read tonight?" rather than just assuming he could, but I wouldn't even consider it hugely rude as long as he treated the book well. 

Yvaine

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2012, 12:46:57 PM »
I've had people look at my books and comment on them on more then one occasion.  If I didn't want some one to see one of them for any reason I'd not put it in the common area of a house.

I think it would have been fine if you said "please treat that book gently, I'm into keeping them looking new"

I agree on both points.  I'll confess I've made comments about the titles of other people's books -- I read and write romance novels and the titles are hilarious!  Most of my friends who are romance readers get a kick out of it so it probably wouldn't have occurred to me that this would offend you. 

I also think that if you're embarrassed by the smutty nature of the book, they shouldn't be out in the open.  It's only natural for people to look at them.  I'd assume if the bookshelves were out in a public room it was okay to look at the books.  I'm a book nerd so I automatically gravitate towards a bookshelf.  Many people don't think there's anything wrong with reading books with heavy sexual content so it would have surprised me that you'd have an issue with it.

It's a tone thing. It's one thing when it's people who are all members of an in-group--like romance readers--lovingly mocking their own genre. I make fun of urban fantasy titles and covers all the time...with other UF fans.

It's another thing when a person is mocking your stuff from a place of just not getting it or thinking the whole field is stupid. As an example: The acquaintance I mentioned upthread is a hardcore skeptic who believes in nothing religious, spiritual, or supernatural. I'm pagan, and have a lot of books titled things like "Candle Magic." He would pick one up, crinkle his nose as though smelling sewage, turn it over gingerly in his hand as if it had sewage on it, and say "...Candle...Magic?"

The difference is easy to spot if you've experienced both, and my read of the OP was that he was in the second category, though I wasn't there to hear the tone so I could be wrong.

Surianne

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Re: Houseguests and book "borrowing"
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2012, 12:53:18 PM »
Yvaine -- I assumed it was a friendly teasing since he was planning to actually read it (even if it was for hilarity purposes rather than because he loves romance).  If he said something like "Why do you read this junk?" that would be totally different, of course.