The runic system Elder Futhark was the system most widely in use in use between around the 200 BCE to around the eighth century. There is much debate over the actual timing of the runes.
The futhark runes consist of 24 engraved runes and one blank rune Wyrd. They can be made of wood, crystal, metal or glass. The have an engraved symbol on them and can be read in an upright position or reversed, rather like the tarot. Some people say that you should make your runes yourself, and they will then have your energy in them already. You could gather stones from the beach or countryside or use wood. The oldest ones in existence are engraved on bone.
The runes must be treated with respect, and then they will be a great source of information for you. You should not lend your runes to anyone, although it is of course fine for them to handle them during the course of a reading.
Traditionally Odin and Freya were the guardians and patrons of runes and may runic practitioners still pray to them before doing any work with their runes.
Runes also have a great part to play in magical practices. I personally use them a lot in my work and I find that they have become extremely powerful tools as a result of this.
There are some excellent books that will help you in your quest to learn to read the runes, and the power that lies within them, will ensure that you are capable of planning your path a little more easily as a result of your endeavours.
When you start doing your own readings, you should make sure that any questions that you pose are straightforward and that there is no doubt about what you mean. This way your answer should be clear to you and you will not have to try to interpret it too much.
The runes are an oracle, and as such can be relied upon to give you guidance. Look after them and they will serve you well.