11.01.2008

Booking Through Thursday

Are you a spine breaker? Or a dog-earer? Do you expect to keep your books in pristine condition even after you have read them? Does watching other readers bend the cover all the way round make you flinch or squeal in pain?


My husband cringes when he sees some of my books. His mother and his grandmother were both librarians, so he feels a deep respect for books. Books are to be cared for, not torn or dog-eared or marked up.

I too have a deep respect for books, but mine is based more on a perception of relationship. Books are awesome - they are such awesome things. They carry our thought, our history, our traditions, even our subversion. They are important.

There are some books that I treasure, because they have been with me for a long time. One of these books is my tattered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. I got it in the 8th grade, and it has been marked up, written on, taped back together, bent backward at the spine, highlighted, dog-eared to kingdom come, you name it. It's been loved. I have a nitty-gritty, you-are-my-lifeblood relationship with this book. We have been through the ringer together, and the more worn it gets, the deeper our relationship has gone.

Another book I treasure is The Christmas Cat. This is a Christmas storybook that I've had for as long as I can remember. I think my Grandovie gave it to me, but I'm not sure. I actually have two copies of this book because I thought I'd lost the original and I found an old library copy for sale. I treasure this book by keeping it very safe and in very good condition. I expect this book to show some wear because it has been through several moves, and it's old, and it is in fact displayed and read at least once a year.

Some books, I will dog-ear. These are the 'reference' books - idea books, clutter control books, self-help books, whatnot. I'll fold down the very tip corner on a page that relates to me or speaks to me. These guys are the workers. They're meant to be used, and their value is in their information.  I don't necessarily LIKE the look of dog-ears, but I very much don't like the look of flags sticking out all over the place. One of these days I may get diligent and make a brief 'index' to post-it in the front cover. Any kids out there who need a service project?

And then there are those books that are revered.  I have a beautiful set of leather-bound autobiographies of Christian people and specific works I really admire - Corrie ten Boom, Brother Andrew, CS Lewis's Screwtape Letters, etc. They're beautiful. I've read them all once - because books are meant to be read. But a number of these, I wanted to keep re-reading. So I bought cheap paperbacks. These are some of my most favorite books, and they are beautiful, so I want them to stay beautiful, but I also want to read them without hesitation. Hence the duplicate.

In general, I appreciate the aesthetics of books. I try to take care not to bend the covers of paperbacks. It's really annoying to me if a book doesn't lie flat. I try not to let pages or groups of pages get bent - again with the flat. But I'm not offended if a particular book looks worn. Books are meant to be read, loved, and invested in. You can't invest in something by sticking it on a shelf and looking at it.

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