BTT: Ideal Conditions

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?

I used to be a HUGE dog-earer and occasional spine breaker.  I’m much better about these things now, but I definitely do not keep my books in pristine condition.  I throw them into purses and backpacks; use whatever I can find to hold them open so I can read while eating or knitting; take them into the bathtub.  When I do all these things, I attempt to keep from harming the book.  However, if some water gets on it, water gets on it and if the cover gets bent in my purse, so be it.  For me it is not the book itself that is sacred, but the act of reading; my book is simply a tool to help me be able to read.  Of course, I do want to preserve the book as well as possible so it can be my reading tool more than once, whether through re-reads or by swapping it for another book.

How do you read your books?  Are you gentle, or do you just want to get down to the words, whatever that takes?  Did you cringe in horror at any of my descriptions of what I do to my books?

18 comments to BTT: Ideal Conditions

  • I try to be gentle and when throw books in my purse, try to make sure the cover isn’t getting bent, etc. I’ve never managed to take a book into the bathtub without getting it wet… seems to be an impossible task. :)

    Have fun reading!

    Robin of mytwoblessings

  • Amy

    My books are in varying states of disarray, depending on how often they’ve been read. I admit to dog-earring my pages. Not too terribly often — just when I don’t have pen and paper nearby. And I do throw my book in my bag to carry with me throughout the day, and depending on how much other crap I’m trying to cram in my bag that day, it can come out looking a little worse than when it went in. Luckily, I’ve never dropped a book in the tub… though I’ve come close once or twice.

    Something that bothers me, though, is when I lend books to friends and they treat my books badly. It’s one thing if *I’m* the one mangling them, but it’s another if someone else does it. I’m protective like that. :)

  • I like your approach – middle-of-the-road, not dog-earring and highlighting with abandon, but not putting on white gloves and living in a bubble either :)

  • My friend who is legally blind has an e-reader and she puts it in a plastic bag to read in the bath. I wonder if we could find a way to do that with books!

    I admit, once I started to fall asleep in the bath and like half of my book was submerged. It was still readable, but it was wavy!

  • Ti

    I’m really careful with my books. I don’t like to crease anything and I use Post-it notes to keep notes while reading. There have been times where I’ve messed a book up by accident and I usually get over it quickly. LOL.

  • I like your attitude. Books are for reading!

    Conditioning, anyone?!

  • I remembered retrieving a book from the pool when I was on vacation. That it was all soaked broke my heart. Books should be handled with care and gentleness, just like cradling a baby in the crook.

  • I’m similar – I don’t harm them on purpose but if it happens, it happens. I probably wouldn’t take a book into the bathtub though. I’m sure I’d drop it in. I’m guilty of propping it open while eating or whatever, though!

  • I am gentle, but I love what you had to say!

  • I’m gentle, but I don’t cringe at others. If you bought it, do what you want with it.

  • Well I didn’t actually cringe exactly but I do all those things too (except the bathtub, I know how clumsy I am). I’ve always been really gentle with my books though. If they get thrown into my purse I make sure it doesn’t get bent or anything lol.

  • I try to be gentle with my books, especially since so many of mine are hardcovers. But sometimes, accidents happen and there’s no getting around it – which is why we do not read hardcovers in the bathtub anymore. I can deal with a splash of spaghetti sauce on the page, but not one that’s been drip-dried.

  • I thought I was the only person in the world who would read and knit at the same time! I actually crocheted an entire afghan in college while studying, too.

  • I don’t like seeing books get bent or cracked. But if they’re going to get read, they’ll experience some wear. I read in the bath, too. Never dropped a book yet, but I’m always afraid it will happen someday!

  • I try to be as gentle as possible, but any book I’ve carried around with me has definitely gotten a little wear.

  • Do you ever get grossed out by bits of food, hair, etc. in library books? I try to be more careful with those than with my own books. I’ve never understood the appeal of owning first editions. Signed editions, sometimes, but not something I’d be afraid to read.

  • I don’t like doing all that – but I know more times I can admit- I have done something bad to the books too :)

    But I like keeping them pristine and beautiful – the way they came to me :)

  • I’m much like you, though there is one thing that makes me cringe – highlighting. I can’t stand to read a book with highlighting in it, and have to get another copy.

    If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Anne Fadiman’s ‘Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader’, a small collection of Fadiman’s essays on writing, reading, language, books, etc. She has one essay devoted to reading habits that I think you’d enjoy based on this post – though the entire book is fantastic.