I have been known to destroy books.
Not like ripping out pages or burning them or using them for modge-podge crafts or whatever.
Nope. I, a well known booknerd, someone who doesn’t like people borrowing her books, have done such evils as:
*Cracking the spines on paperbacks or hardcovers
*Dog-earring because I couldn’t find something to shove in it to save my place
*Splaying open the book also because I couldn’t find something to mark it
*highlighting several passages (so many all the time)
*making notes/writing in a book
*doodling on a page or two because I was on the phone and couldn’t get to a notebook
*accidentally dropping it in the ocean (I found it and it was saved but it did happen)
The reason I’m telling you this? A couple of days ago someone posted a link to an article titled “11 things that will make bookworms angry” and every single one of them was about messing up the pages or writing in the books or cracking the spines. None of them were about the price, or the fact that some of the books are printed so cheaply that we cannot even shut them hard because the main cover falls off or about the stickers on books which are horrid to remove.
Nope, apparently what makes us angry as booknerds, is seeing someone mistreat their own property.
Which got me into a rabbit hole of thinking because when I was first becoming a lovely reader, I would frequent garage sales and thrift stores and library sales. I would scour the bookstore for the wonderful signs stating “Buy one get one free” because score, I get two books! Even when I started venturing into Borders (Oh I miss that place) I would still go for the massmarket paperbacks because they were under $6.00, so I could get about three of them at a time.
And to me, it didn’t matter if they became marked up and slammed back and forth in my bag, those marks were marks showing that I loved them and they were also recipients of my love.
However, ever since I started doing my Bookstagram, I have noticed that pristine pictures of books have gotten better likes (well, as many as they can with that algorithm) and for some reason this has made me want to make sure that my books are perfect. That no visible scratch or dent or mark is showing and that the cover is gorgeous.
But does it really matter? I mean, the main reason I started falling in love with the cardboard and paste and glue and paper and ink was because of the stories that were inside it, not because they were “aesthetically pleasing” or “looked nice on my shelves” (though I won’t lie, it does make me happy when they look nice on there).
I actually like the look of used books better. I feel like there’s a connection between me and the person who read it last, a thin thread that we like the same book or the same author and for a brief moment in time and space were on the same page. That makes me happy.
I have friends on both ends of the spectrum. Friends who bend their covers of the books and all their books look second-hand (even if they were just bought that morning) and friends who have libraries that look like they were just unwrapped from the publishing. And that’s okay.
I’m not saying that it’s wrong to want to keep your books pristine, if that’s what you want.
Or crack those spines if you want.
What I am saying is that maybe we could stop judging other booknerds for how they read books. People have different ways of showing love, and we need to be okay with that. You might not think that someone is a “real” bookish person because of how they do or don’t handle their books, but in reality, if we are reading, they we are all booknerds. We all love the same thing, words that transport us to a different time and space.
~To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books (Carlos Maria Dominguez)
Happy reading and remember, life is too short for mediocre books!