• Handling Breakups

My friend hasn’t returned two books

Published: August 21, 2014 | By | 14 Replies Continue Reading
A woman is irked because her once-friend hasn’t returned two books.


Hi there,

I have a situation where my friend has borrowed two books from me and suddenly stopped talking to me. I can’t seem to get a hold of him through Facebook and he doesn’t have a phone currently. I don’t want to just show up at his door and seem creepy.

We used to be very close but he hasn’t spoken to me in over a year now and it’s really upsetting. How should I go about handling this dilemma?

Signed, Yvette


Hi Yvette,

I can understand your being upset with a friend who doesn’t return books. It’s happened to me more than once. I’ve loaned people books I’ve treasured and they either forget to return them or thought it wasn’t necessary. That’s pretty thoughtless.

But in your case, it seems like your being upset about the books is secondary to being dumped by someone with whom you had once been close.

Resist the impulse to show up at his door. Yes, that would be creepy and uncomfortable for both of you.

I would forget about the books and if they are really important to you, replace them. Since your friend has been MIA for over a year and has made himself inaccessible to you, I would also suggest putting the friendship behind you, too. He has obviously moved on and you need to do the same.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Getting over getting dumped, HANDLING BREAKUPS

Comments (14)

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  1. Tracy says:

    It really bugs me when folks dont return things, pay someone back,
    are always late…its just rude and considerate , bottom line.

    I too would ask for my books back as awkward as it feels.

    It says a lot about your friend’s issues and it also is a red flag for you ( and all of us) to have better boundaries.

  2. Susan says:

    Lauren, good for you on being persistent and assertive! Had you not, most likely you would have never seen it again.

    I loaned important family genealogy records to someone who I trusted to safeguard and be responsible with. He was helping me with my family tree. I never got them back despite several attempts. His answer was, “I can’t find them” and “I think I accidentally threw them away.”
    There was valuable information that I can not add to my family tree now.
    It also was a hand-written copy from my Grandmother who took the time to add the information. If it were lost in a fire, then it would have been different. But this person who I trusted was simply irresponsible and inconsiderate with someone else’s treasured belongings.

    • Lauren says:


      Thanks for the kind words. You are right that if I had not persisted, I would never have seen my precious book again. All in all, she had it for close to 11 months, and I knew that I had to act quickly, effectively and assertively.

      And even then, I had a nagging feeling that even that might not be enough. Luckily it was, and I got my rare, antique book back. (I’ve never seen it on any website of rare books for sale).

      I am so sorry that you lost such precious documents. Yes, this is a valuable and painful lesson.

      It was especially horrible and egregious that he said to you that he couldn’t find your precious and irreplacable documents, and thought that he might have accidentally thrown them away!

      I am very sorry to hear that. Lesson learned.
      All the best to you,

  3. Second Hand Woes says:

    As a book lover who loathes ebooks, I often can’t resist urging a beloved book onto someone who wants to read it … even though I know I might not see the book again. Depending on the person, I don’t, in theory, mind asking for a book back if it’s been a long time and I want or need it back. I think most people (most reasonable people) understand that. But what is funny is that in this day and age of “hoarders” or maybe not hoarders, but people who live in amidst clutter, I often have people say they would love to return the book to me, but they just can’t find it! They don’t know where they put it!
    I then tend to chalk it up to a lost cause.

    Another phenomenon I have experienced several times is meeting a friend and, because I always have a book with me to read on public transportation or when standing in line, etc., I pull out the book to show it to the friend and the friend mistakenly thinks I am giving it to him or her!

    This sounds silly, I know, and I can’t recall the exact conversation, but I found myself feeling embarrassed to say, “No, that wasn’t a gift. That’s just what I’m reading right now.”

    I used to buy used books on amazon.com, but no longer. They have ugly business practices regarding authors. (You can read about this online.) So I now buy used books online at abebooks and others listed on addall.com.

  4. Louise says:

    I know I am going to sound contrary but I think you should go round there and get your books back. I don’t see why that would be creepy if this person was your friend at one point and those books are valuable and sentimental to you. He will or should understand and if he doesn’t well you will at least have some closure and get your books back or at least get an explanation. If you truly believe that the friendship is over then it wont make any difference in the long run if you go round there because you wont ever have to return or see him after that. However if he just hasn’t had the chance to get in touch or something has gone wrong then it may give you a chance to catch up. The saying that real friends can go for long periods of time, do they change into different people or do they stay the same person just have other things going on in their lives? Friends do borrow things from their friends and forget to give them back too because hey no one is perfect and it could have been one of those things he had been meaning to do but keeps forgetting or has too much going on or its been so long he doesn’t know how. Go there and see him. Tell him you were in the neighborhood and ask him for the books and your reasons for wanting them. It will give you an excuse to find out how he is. Sometimes we need to put the past behind us and move on. The things that are important to us matter and sometimes we need to make a statement not only to others but to ourselves, yes its a book but it means something to you. Whats the worst that could happen? you go to his house ask him for the books he gets them you say thanks then bye or he says he doesn’t have them? Anyway that’s my bit of advise for what its worth.

  5. bronwyn says:

    ABE.com is another source for hard-to-find books. If the dot com address doesn’t work, you can always Google them.

  6. Lauren says:

    Hi Yvette,

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, and the loss of your books.
    I also used to lend books to friends with whom I wanted to share the pleasure of reading those particular books, and I was disappointed to find that those books, precious to me, were not returned or even mentioned again.

    I studied history, and I was fortunate to be given the gift of an antique, rare book on the Russian revolution, written by an aristocratic author who lived through the revolution.

    A friend asked to borrow it because she mentioned that her grandparents were from Russia, so naively, I loaned it to her (making it clear that this is only a LOAN to her and it is a rare book and furthermore had been a gift to me).

    Well, you know the next part of this story. My beloved antique book went “MIA”. After a few months, I asked her to return the book. Yes, was quite cold and said yea, yea, yea. No book returned. I asked again, and received her cold reply …Oh yea….but no book was returned.

    Normally, I would just write this one off, but it was a special gift to me and an antique, rare book. In this case, I pestered her and reminded her that SHE asked to borrow the book initially. I mentioned that some of our mutual friends and a former professor also want to see the book and I am planning to have it valued and insured. I went on and on, and I gave her deadline to bring it back to me or I’d take action against her, as it is an extremely valuable and rare book.

    Guess what…within the deadline date (5 days), she returned the book.
    She actually had it for months! She was very cold when she returned the book, and from then on, she was off my friendship list. Another friend suggested that she was perhaps planning to keep it for a while, then sell it to a rare book dealer. Who knows, but it taught me a valuable lesson.

    Now when someone asks to borrow a book that I am reading, I lend it to them ONLY if I am totally finished with it and was planning to give it to the charity shop anyways. (I don’t mention that to them). If it is a friend I really like, and if I am totally finished with the book, I tell the friend that they can have it and keep it or pass it on whatever they wish to do. Otherwise, If someone asks to borrow a book that I am reading, and for me the book is a “keeper”, then I just say that my husband want to read it next, and I may want to re-read it later, so sorry, no can do! Then I mention that it’s probably available as an e book, or from the public library as a hard copy or even as an e book. End of conversation.

    That’s another reason that I really like my e reader…they can’t ask to borrow any books from that. As to hard copies, I use the above-noted techniques, and it works out very well.

  7. DLG says:

    My daughter’s friends keep wanting to borrow her Wii games. The problem is they never return them and they’re forty dollars each. I’ve asked them to return them and they refuse, so I repurchased the missing ones (one is not available anymore but I managed to find an unused one on ebay.) I also have a rule that no wii games leave the house ever again. Even after I made this rule, they still keep asking! I’m definitely not giving in though.

  8. bronwyn says:

    I would agree with both replies above EXCEPT if one of the books was given with a transcription in it and had special sentimental value. Something like that is not replaceable. And again, it is a lesson about lending things out.

    So many people trash this digital age of the electronic books, but unless you go through a special procedure via Amazon (as far as I know) no one, is going to ask you to lend him/her your eBook. I’d have no problem giving up most of my hardcover books, as they’re not autographed and one of the few things it’s easy for me to part with in this age of divesting of one’s possessions.

  9. Lalita says:

    This is why I have lending copies of DVDs and such. I don’t lend books but forward links to where they can get them. People are just more thoughtless nowadays and it’s just part of keeping your sanity to accept reality instead of simmering for these kinds of thoughtless slights. Love yourself enough to recognize that the vast majority of people today are not as thoughtful, present, and disciplined to recognize that these details matter. My father was one to make copies of significant passages because he used to say people forget to return books.

  10. Amy F says:

    I’ve had friends not return things, including one cherished book and my favorite DVD. I eventually got the book back after bugging and guilting my suddenly-busy friend, but in the end I wished I had let it go and just purchased another. It would have been a lot easier and I would have felt better about myself. With the DVD, I knew when I was lending it that she might not return it, she has a large family and an incredible amount of stress in her life as well as a chronic health condition. Still, I chose to lend her the DVD. She promised to send it to me a few times as she lives 2 hrs away where I grew up.
    Lesson learned. I’m not lending anything to someone that I can’t afford to lose or that I’m emotionally attached to. If the books you’re trying to replace are out of print, try http://www.half.com , they have almost every book, new or used, at bargain prices.
    You might feel like your former friend added insult to injury by disappearing and still having your books, but sometimes “winning” is letting go and moving on, even if the other person should have done X or Y. Not every action needs a reaction.
    I hope you can find the books.

  11. Sophie says:

    I’m a person who treasures her books, so I can relate to this post. I’ve loaned out favorite things because I wanted to share them with special friends, only to find that I couldn’t get them back later. One time, I loaned a friend an autographed copy of a great cookbook that was a gift from its author to me. When I asked my friend to return the book, she didn’t even remember borrowing it. I forgave her, but I’ve never loaned her anything since then.

    I rarely loan anything to friends now, unless I am very sure I will be able to replace the item easily and at little cost. But the real heart of the issue here, as Irene points out, is that your friend stopped talking to you so suddenly. Like Irene said, you need to chalk this off as a lesson learned.

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