Friday, December 12, 2008


Hitler burned books. I break them.

The reasons for our respective biblioffenses (don't tell me you don't think that was a brilliant compound word I just created) are, however, different.

He burned 'em for ideology's sake and hate disguised as reason. Me, I break books cause I love 'em.

There are those who are kind to books. They use book marks. They preserve dust covers. They avoid writing in the margins, if at all possible. They would never, ever dog-ear a page.

I don't use bookmarks. I often lose or tear dust covers. I love writing in the margins. I always, always dog ear the pages (of my own books; I am "respectful" to books that don't belong to me). I have even used a novel I was reading as a paddle in the swimming pool:

I was on a flotation device, floating and reading, drifting in the center of the pool, when the phone rang. No one else was around to answer it. So I used my book to paddle me to the side of the pool to answer the phone. Once answered and returned to its station, I went back to reading my sodden (very sodden) book. The wet pages, that would later dry to warping, hadn't lost their words. Getting the book wet didn't mean that the story washed away. It was just wet. And so was I. So we made a nice pair.

All of this mistreatment, to me it's love.

It means that I took it with me. I took the book to yoga to read on my mat before class. I took it to lunch as my date. I read it in the pool. I kept it in the car. I tossed it in my purse. I read it while doing my hair. I spent breakfast perusing it. In loving my books like this, I can't be bothered to make sure a bookmark is on hand. No, I just fold down the page; it's low maintenance.

In respect to dog-earing, I go beyond the usual offense of just folding down a page to mark where I was. If I am reading a book and come across a word I don't understand or a passage I need to reference later, whether for further understanding or love of the words themselves, I fold down the corner of the page, pointing the tip at the word I don't know. This way, if I don't have a dictionary on hand (and before I started my torrid affair with my iPhone, I often didn't), I can grab the book later and quickly find the words I need to look up.

I'm also a religious binding-breaker. I bought a new book last week. In Defense of Food. It's a hard cover with a dust jacket. Very pretty. When I bought it, I gazed at it with sympathy and thought to myself, Oh Velveteen Rabbit, I will love you and love you, but in the end, you'll look like you were beaten.

Sure enough, this morning, while drying and ironing my hair, I wanted to read my food book. Well since the darn thing is brand new, the binding was tight and it wouldn't stay open, hands-free. So I set down the flat iron, grasped the book in both hands, opened it up, and bent it back, listening for the crack of a broken binding. I did it so I could read it. I did it so I could use it. I did it so I could love it.

Some books, like the three U2 and one Yoga coffee table books downstairs, are for looking at. They should be pretty. Others are for reading. And I think they should look like it.

For my part, I don't "respect" books. I don't because I love them.

(Don't ever let your husband/boyfriend/S.O. say the same thing about you, by the way. It only applies to books.)


M to the E to the R to the I said...

Wow, I missed all the action yesterday.I think if they are your books, you do what you have to do to read them. I'm all about smashing them down so I read can them while I curl my hair. Who said books have to be in mint conditon?

cat+tadd=sam said...

You make me jealous that you have time to read. Well, I guess you make the time. I'm going to be more committed to reading! And I agree with abusing them with love, I'm all for it.

Megan and Keli'i said...

Yes, all of my books pretty much look haggard after being read. I pretty much have the same abusive love affair with my books...and possibly my hubby...hehe!