Mes chers, I have a confession to make.
I am an imperfect reader.
I have so many broken spines and I have books with the covers or dust jackets a bit torn. I have a used library copy of Midnight Thief that has a phallic drawing inside (for the record, I received it that way. It was a most unpleasant surprise).
I have books with yellowed pages and sticky notes pointing out pages with juicy quotes. I have loved my books so fervently that they are falling apart.
Reading is more than a pastime for bibliophiles. It’s a passion, an obsession. We all behave in different ways around our collections. Some people treat their books like Faberge eggs – others like teddy bears. I’m a little more into the second category. I love my books – I read them and cherish them. I don’t try to pull their limbs off, and I rarely write them, but nor do I think there’s anything wrong with a cracked spine.
There are a few bookish bad habits and things that drive me crazy:
- Dogearring: It’s all well and good if you do it to your books, but please don’t do it to mine.
- Underlining & Annotations: Annotations on sticky notes is fine, but I feel like writing them directly on the page is really distracting to read. Non-fiction books used for research are the exception for me. But you do you.
- Never Returning Books: I am so happy to lend out my books, but please don’t ask unless you’re going to read it. I’ve had to chase after books friends have had for a year, and some people have never given them back. I’ve replaced Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud TWICE.
- Using Tissues & Receipts as Bookmarks: Found object bookmarks is fine, but I just don’t like tissues and receipts. I’m sorry, there’s no logical reason for it. It’s a thing for me.
- Really Old Books: There’s always been this thing in the bookish community for “the smell of old books”. I actually hate that? Old books smell like mold and dust. New books is where it’s at.
- Torn or Bent Covers: My copy of The Gunslinger got bent in my backpack and The Magicians came to me torn and they make me twitch. I would very much like to replace them SOLELY for this cosmetic imperfection. I’m shallow.
- Missing Dust Jackets: While some books are now really pretty under the dust jackets, most are pretty *meh*. I don’t understand why people would throw the pretty artwork away.
I know there are some things I do to my books that would drive other readers crazy. I try to be as respectful as I can to my books, but especially in the cases of mass market paperbacks and really thick books, I feel like my options are limited. These days, I don’t borrow very many books, so it mostly comes down to treatment of my own.
- Breaking the Spines: For years I didn’t know how not to do this. I guess the answer is folding back the cover? That just makes for awkward reading. I still have a guilty conscience for breaking the spine of a UK paperback of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban my friend’s step-dad owned as specifically being told not to ruin it.
- Dust Jackets as Bookmarks: If I’ve got a hardcover book with a dust jacket, that dust jacket simply becomes my bookmark. It’s something I’ve never really thought about, and something I’ve always done. Apparently this is a no-no? Sorry!
- Carrying Books in my Purse: My #1 way to destroy paperbacks is purse-carrying. Fortunately I have two different book sleeves now I’ve gotten through subscription boxes, so this shouldn’t be an issue in the future. Huzzah!
- Post-Its: These days I rarely stick post-its in my books, but in high school, I did it a lot. A couple of my Harry Potter books are still full of them.
- Snacking: I often have tea or cookies or something nearby and I have opened so many books to crumbs it’s not funny.
- Bad Dusting: I have three large bookcases and one small one and a dust allergy. You’d think that this would make me dust them better and more frequently, but NOPE. I avoid that chore like the plague. It will probably ruin my books someday *cries*
- Mismatched Formats: This doesn’t bother me enough to fix… I’ve got series that are mixed between paperbacks, hard covers, and mass market paperbacks. Some of these – like Artemis Fowl – have been with me so long I wouldn’t dream of replacing them for continuity.
- Laying Books Open, Upside Down: This is huge with my paperbacks – if I’m in the middle of something and get interrupted but intend to go back, instead of being civilized and using my bookmark, I tend to just flip the book upside down on the table. Not good for the spines.
All this said, I have books on my shelf I’ve had around since I was eight years old and got them from the Scholastic Book Fair. They’re in perfectly good condition for the most part (one of my favorites is starting to look a little worn, and don’t even look at my Harry Potter books). Every library is unique, after all!
This week’s Book Blogger Hop question was:
When reading a mass paperback book, many people fold the cover back, as if they were reading a magazine. Doing this will eventually create creases in the spine. How do you feel about this common bookish habit?
My short answer: I have to do this. I can’t read comfortably otherwise. So, um, don’t lend me your mass market paperbacks, I guess!