I think I’m preaching to the converted when I say that there is something quite special about opening a new book for the first time, whether that be new from the bookshop, or new to you having already had a good few reads. But I think we all have quite differing opinions on what makes good ‘book etiquette’.

Before uni, I was a book saver. I’d read books even over five hundred pages long without barely opening the spine enough to read it, and certainly never creasing it. I’d be so careful that it barely looked read by the time I’d finished with it. Uni, however, did something to me: I was reading constantly, and I’d never be without a book in my bag, just in case I had five empty minutes  sat at a bus stop or in between lectures without friends. One day, I chucked my current book in my bag along with other uni essentials, purse, phone, pad, pencil case, and when I next came to read it, I’d carelessly creased the whole cover so it was sticking out. Now at first, I was devastated and cursed myself for being so careless. But then, I thought, maybe there was something quite nice about the fact it had acquired battle scars along the way.

Now I’m not saying that I’d deliberately break a spine or fold down pages to mark my place, but also I’m no longer as bothered if my desire to have a book with me whenever bag space will allow means I take a few casualties. Sometimes I think in a desire to keep things pristine, we forget the reason we bought them in the first place: to enjoy them.

There is, of course, writing on books too. Someone on my course once said that she inscribed the top of the first page of her new books with the month and year she read them, and wrote down if someone had given her it as a present, and I thought that was a really lovely idea. And for a while, for books which I had acquired in an unusual fashion, e.g. the books I was given through doing work experience at magazines, I did the same. I was also reluctant, at first, to highlight textbooks, but as my Mum (also originally equally as adamant as me that books should be preserved) pointed out, I was causing myself a lot of extra work by writing out long passages and awkwardly arranging a book I already owned at a photocopier that was too small to fit the pages in properly. So a few chapters have acquired a neon green pen (though I must admit, I do still find something a little wrong about doing so).

Overall, I probably fall somewhere in the middle. I have acquired books, sometimes through family members, sometimes through car boot sales, second hand book stores or charity shops, which have had inscriptions in them, and I have been so excited to imagine the story behind the writing. Who were these people, and what was their life like (particularly if it’s an old book)? But a book is something special, and I still do cringe at the thought of unnecessary dog-earring, and when comparing like with like, I’d always be more attracted to the cleaner copy.

How do you feel about your books? Do you keep them spick and span or are you happy for them to look as loved as they are?



4 thoughts on “Books: Should You Make Your Mark?

  1. Hmm,when I had to study English literature,I had to write in my books and highlight important quotes.They were also creased and dog-eared as a result of my regularly opening them!

    However when I buy books for pleasure.I take great case in handling them; I want to keep them in pristine condition.Maybe because I hold the notion that their condition reflects the degree to which I respect them.

    I am also a sort of ‘maniac’. When I have made my mind regarding what books I would buy, I always pick the editions which have the nicest covers.To crease them,thus,would be a shame! Why do covers import so much to me? Again,it all boils to another peculiar notion of mine; I believe that nice covers and formats do total justice to the books (I read mostly classics).

    I also like my books looking very good on my shelves; I occasionally found myself staring at the books I’ve read, reminiscing all the things they showed and gave me. 🙂

  2. I generally try to keep books neat-ish. The only time this seems to all go out the window is on holiday. Holiday books of mine always get ruined, wrinkled pages from resting on my tummy after I get out of the pool, sun/heat damaged and with sand all in the spine. But I quite like that, it’s like the book had a holiday too 🙂

    • What a nice way of looking at it! I once took a book on holiday and the sun dried the glue totally out and the pages were flying away one by one in the wind, so I just picked them up and they got a new lease of life in an art project when I got back. I did manage to finish it though!

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