book talk: bookish confession my bad habits

Bookish Confessions – My Bad Habits

Posted January 19, 2018 by Amber in Memes / 23 Comments


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.

Some examples:

  • 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 asked:

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?


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!


Do you have any “bad” bookish habits?

What things about books drives you crazy?

Have you ever spilled a drink on a book?

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23 responses to “Bookish Confessions – My Bad Habits

  1. i am totally that person who breaks the spines and uses the dust jacket as the bookmark :’)
    i just can’t help it sometimes!!!
    i hateeee people who dog ear books it makes me cringe along with any rips/tears on the covers of books, hate it 🙁

    • Amber

      You and I read similarly then, lol!

      The rips on my books make me cringe. I really want to go buy new ones, but then I feel bad for abandoning the old ones….

  2. OMG SAME I HATE THE “OLD BOOK SMELL”. My parents bought the first edition of the Harry Potter series before I was born, and it smells! The pages look awful as well ?
    I only dog-ear library books. (I’m such a terrible person! ?) I use bookmarks for my own books.
    I find it really hard to read a hardcover book with a dust jacket so I just remove it… and sometimes forget about or even lose it. Whoops.

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    • Amber

      On the bright side of losing dust jackets, a lot of hardbacks these days have interesting prints or designs underneath, so that can be pretty cool!

      Your librarian is probably frustrated with your a little bit, though! XD

    • Amber

      I am in awe of your skills! I’ve never really been able to read paperbacks – especially thick mass markets – without cracking the spine! 🙂

    • Amber

      I’m glad I’m not the only person who doesn’t like the annotations and underlining! It’s so distracting!

    • Amber

      I’m glad you like them! I almost never use photos in my posts, but I had a lot of fun taking these ones. 🙂

      I think that’s a good point of view – people can do what they want with their own property, and if it makes others cringe… oh well!

  3. I have learned (after way too long) to never, ever, EVER lend my books out. It makes me seem like a greedy book-Scrooge, but honestly, I’m just so sick of never getting them back! But anyway. this list was hilarious! Honestly, I’m pretty boring with my books, and try to keep them in nice condition, which is pretty easy since I don’t take them anyway. BUT, mismatched books in a series do drive me bonkers!!

    • Amber

      Not lending is probably the best thing a book lover can do for their books. I have my copy of Blood and Chocolate featured in the first photograph. It looked okay after I finished reading it. I lent it to two people in a row, and got it back like that. I don’t think I’ve ever been so mad!

      So from a technical point of view, I should probable lean towards your philosophy… 🙂

    • Amber

      I am definitely more of a leave-notes-in-Goodreads person now, but… yup! When you’re tech free, Post-Its are KING.

      Did all your books get ruined in your backpack like mine did? :'(

  4. I have to crack the spine for mass market paperbacks too! Or else how else am I supposed to read it? Also I have a couple of these “bad” habits as well! For one, I’ve used library receipts as bookmarks before when nothing else was around. It’s funny because I’m pretty ok with destroying my paperbacks, but I can’t let anything happen to my hardcovers! Maybe because they were more expensive? Haha.

    Awesome discussion!

    • Amber

      Oooo, I think that’s an excellent point! I can’t imaging treating a hardback with anything but love and care, but paperback and paperbacks and books are meant to be read!

  5. I’m pretty good about keeping my books in nice condition now, simply because I care more now, but when I was younger I folded pages, and left my books open upside down ALL the time. Now it drives me crazy, but still, my ease and comfort while reading a book will always come above the condition of my books. I want them to be in perfect condition, but books are for reading, and I’m going to read them… If that means they aren’t in perfect condition, so be it.
    I will not however, dog ear my books. I HATE dog earring, and it’s easy enough to find a bookmark. Or, um… a receipt. I use receipts ALL the time… Not tissues though, I’m totally with you there, but for some reason receipts don’t bother me.

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    • Amber

      I definitely see those patterns in myself as well – my more recent copies are in much better shape than the one I handled as a kid! I think I began to appreciate it more when I had to buy my own copies.

      • Hahaha, you probably have a point there… although my parents stopped buying me books a LONG time ago… (They realized pretty quickly that I wanted more books than they could afford, and just stopped buying me any ?) So I think I’ve also just become less of a slob…

  6. GREAT post, Amber! I would definitely NOT lend you any of my mass market paperbacks, as I DETEST seeing these books with spine creases. Lol. I will not buy such books if I see them in a used bookstore, no matter how cheap they are!

    There’s another effect of folding back the front cover of a mass market paperback, and that is that the book will then be tilted. This drives me NUTS.

    As for the other bookish habits you’ve mentioned……

    I also avoid laying down an open book upside down when I’m interrupted in my reading. As you’ve pointed out, this too, is bad for the spine. In a pinch, I will use the book’s receipt, if I bought it at B&N. Or I’ll grab a scrap piece of paper nearby. NEVER a tissue, though! I agree with you on that.

    I’ve noticed that PBs I’ve carried around in my purse for a while do get edge wear, plus several dings, from items in my purse pressing against them. So I don’t do this anymore! I’ll have to check out the book sleeves. Thanks for the tip!! 🙂 🙂

    Broken spines do not exist in my bookish world! Lol.

    I own three copies of a book titled “Personal Power Through Awareness”, by Sanaya Roman. This book is pretty interesting, so I’ve highlighted a lot of passages, and written some notes in it. BUT, of course, I have two other PRISTINE copies! Lol. All three are laminated, too. One of them has a small tear in the plastic. Thus the third copy. Yup, call me OBSESSED. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I guess I would be in the first group that treats their books like Faberge eggs, lol. Except that I DO read them! And you can’t tell, after I’m done, that I’ve read them. No creases on the spine, no tilted books, no dog-eared pages. No writing or highlighting (except for the exception above), and no post-it notes, either.

    I must confess, though, that there are quite a few shelves I need to dust….. Oh, well, I guess nobody’s perfect, right? Lol.

    Thanks so much for sharing your TERRIFIC post!! <3 🙂

    • Amber

      That is perfectly fair! I wouldn’t want to ruin your books!

      It definitely sounds like you have a system down!!! 🙂