Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How Do You Treat Your Books?

A recent change in habit has gotten me thinking about this particular topic and I am beyond excited to get opinions and feedback as to what YOU guys do about...

Book Treatment

Huh? You might be asking. But I know for a fact that every single person, especially those who read obsessively, treats their books differently. Some revere them, some highlight them, some hardly open them for fear of breaking the spine, some like their books to show the physicality of their love. EVERYONE has a different way of treating their precious books. 

Me? Well. I used to be firmly on the team of treating books like bricks of gold. To this day, I still don't let ANYBODY borrow my books. For the time being they are my children and I will treat them as such aka nobody knows how to take care of them like I do. But while I still read them carefully, I don't throw them around, I definitely never marked or dog-eared them in any way...now I think I'm leaning towards the other team. 

What brought on this change? 

I was looking at my bookshelf the other day and saw most my precious, revered book in all  my collection. My very first Harry Potter book. It is in paperback (I have since re-bought it in hardcover so my collection all  matches but I digress). The spine is crinkled. The cover's corners are well-worn. This book looks like it's been through a war and back. Why? Because I'm pretty sure I've read this copy a dozen times at least. No only is this one of my favorite books of all time, but I love the look of this book because it shows its history. The book looks like it has been loved. It looks like it has been read a hundred times and cherished. I LOVE this. You cannot replicate this book. If I ever lost this book or didn't have it, it would break my heart. It tells my own history as a reader as well.

Where is all this going? Well I think that seeing this and having it bring out so much emotion in me made me want to try and create more of those well-loved book looks. With the past few books I've read I've done just that. I've dog-eared pages. I've underlined passages that spoke to me. I've loved this book both mentally, emotionally, and now anyone that picks it up can see what I loved about said book. 

It is also in my weird optimism that in some far off place and time if my books ever make it my own kids or their kids or a garage sale or used books store, that anyone that opens MY book will see what affected me. That is truly inspiring to me.

One Exception To This Rule

HOWEVER, what is even weirder in my preference of book treatment is that I still think of hardcover books as an entirely different entity. While I have changed my treatment of paperbacks and started to show them the love, it still seems weird to me to underline or dog ear favorite pages. It still feels damaging to me. What is my prejudice against soft covers that I find it okay to do this? No idea. Maybe because my HP book is paperback I think it's okay? Or because you can see the wear and tear on the spine of a paperback whereas the spine of a hardcover remains pristine so damaging the innards seem wrong? NO IDEA but maybe I'll evolve and eventually show equal love (and damage?) to all books without discrimination. 

I mean, are all the books in the world out there saying what Meredith is saying? Should we be showing more visual love to our books?...

So Now I Have To Know...

How Do YOU Treat Your Books? What Are Your Habits and Preferences?


  1. Oh I love this post. I have such a weird thing about books. I LOVE having my books "show the love." Now, I don't dog-ear or mark passages or anything. But if a corner or two is a little bent, or if the spine shows a little wear, that doesn't bother me. My thing is this: I LOVE brand-new, shiny books and I LOVE used, worn-in ones. But I absolutely hate the process in between. Most of my books end up showing a little wear, and in the end, I like them for it. But I hate watching it happen.

  2. That's an interesting idea...treating books with a bit less care to show that you love them. Haha, I kind of love it. I'm the type of person who treats her books very well. I don't ever dog-ear, write in them, or highlight in them. I don't really know why this is, it just is. It feels wrong somehow to mark up the books.

    I'm not super crazy about making sure they stay perfect-looking, though it would be nice and I do try not to wreck them while reading, transporting, what-have-you. But, I'm not completely anal about it or anything. I do like them to look nice when I put them back on my shelf, though!

    I know that some people are very strict with their books. Like my mom, for example. If you borrow her book, you cannot open the pages too far or you will crease the spine! Even she reads them while barely opening the freaking book. It's pretty ridiculous and pretty unnecessary, really. I mean, I read comfortably and I don't ruin the spines of my books! It's only if you stretch them or wrap them around that it really does any damage, ya know?

    --Sam @ SIK Book Reviews

  3. I do like the idea of books showing that they are loved, but I can't bring myself to actually damage them even in the tiniest way possible. I'm that person who is worried about their books when I let someone borrow them and rather not let anyone else touch them and also made my boyfriend carry one around wrapped in a t-shirt in his bag. I have also had minor freak-outs because of damages to my books after being lend out. Maybe I should just stop lending books to people...
    And sometimes I accidentally crack a spine and I'm pretty ok with that, cause it does show I read it and it mostly happens cause I'm so caught up in the book I'm not even noticing that it happens :)

  4. This is so fun. And I can just HEAR you reading it out loud. And I hear you with the paperbacks - however...

    My well-worn, well-loved paperbacks? I have more than one copy. I have a beaten-to-death, highlighted, dog-eared, well-worn copy that I pull out when I'm looking for comfort and then I have an exact twin that looks new. BUT I'M QUIRKY SO DON'T MIND ME. (With some of them I also have the hardbacks. And Ebooks. And in the case of Laini Taylor and Patrick Ness, the audiobooks as well.) Dear Lord, I need help.

    Okay, not really. I just love my books.

    I love this post.

  5. Let me just put this out there: I adore this post! It made me really think about how I'm starting to treat my books these days, and here's where it's at for me:

    1. Hardcovers - I tend to be VERY careful with dust covers, for some reason. I always take them off a book when I'm reading it, and store it somewhere where it remains safe. I don't dog-ear these, but I do underline the passages that really speak to me.

    2. Paperbacks - I'm much more relaxed when it comes to these! I tend to dog-ear them, as well as underlining passages. I don't mind breaking/bending the spines either -- especially when I'm in the middle of re-reading.

    3. Favorites -- Whether they are hardcovers or paperbacks, I'm extra careful with these! I like making sure they look pretty, especially if they're signed.

    By the way, your feelings towards your first Harry Potter book? EXACTLY how I feel about mine. It's falling apart, barely held together by tape, but I love it so much. I did buy a hardcover of this and book two to make my collection match, but I could never let go of those paperbacks.

  6. Even though I love the idea of seeing how loved a book is, and being able to pick one up and see all of my favourite passages highlighted, I just can't do it!

    Like you, I'd definitely lean towards doing this to paperbacks over hardbacks (if I could do this!); maybe it's because they're less expensive to buy?

  7. Ha! I like this post. :) I'm a weirdo with my books. When I buy one it has to be in pristine condition. Anyone that has been to a bookstore with me knows that I dig until I find the one that doesn't have any scratches or dents. If they do, I usually won't buy it! Drives me crazy. Once it is MINE I don't mine it getting a little effed up, but I want to be the one to do it! I dog-ear my books like an addict. I love picking up a book and being able to open up to all my favorite parts. Sometimes I wish I highlights-- but some of my dog-ears are just for the sexy times. hahaha That could come back to bit me someday! Something kind of weird that I do though-- if I stain a book-- whether it be chocolate, coffee, oil from popcorn, whatever--- I put the date and write exactly what it was.

    1. oh... and i really want to start a quote book this year, but feel weird about it because i feel like i'm missing so many awesome quotes from books i've already read.. but that isn't exactly a good reason not to do it, right?

  8. I was just having this conversation the other day! I am very protective of my books...paperback and hardcover. I will definitely loan them out but I never break the spine or bend pages. It makes my eyes hurt and heart cry. I even take the dust jacket off of my hardcovers while I am reading so I don't mess it up...I may have a problem. I love my stickies so I can mark my favorite parts without causing lasting damage.

    Great post!


  9. I am very careful with my books. Only a select number of people get to borrow them and by select I mean only my sister because she is the same way. But I know what you're saying about a well-loved book. I was in high school when I first read Twilight and I think I read that book about fifteen times. I was obsessed with it. Lol. And of course that was way before the days of Goodreads and blogging so I had no idea how to discover new books. But the cover is practically falling off and you can just tell that it's well-loved. I got a hardcover copy eventually, but I could never let go of that book. There's just something about it that reminds me of the days where I was obsessed. While all my books are like gold, I also agree with you about hardcovers. I'm definitely more careful with them than with paperbacks. I think it's partly bc they're more expensive. But I'm also less careful with paperbacks bc I know that they are likely to get some wear and tear. Hardcovers can stay pristine forever. So I guess I treat my books like babies. I will never ever dog-ear. *shudders*

  10. Good post, I can't say I'm overly careful with all my books. My self-help books always get the brunt of the attack as I feel those are the ones worth "harming" a little. I love my hardcovers and I try not to break the spine too much. But I certainly don't obsess over the state of my books once they're read. I make a bigger deal over them during point-of-purchase.
    - Krys

  11. I treat them VERY careful. No dog-ears, no underlining, no cracks in the spine - I like it when they look like they are still new even when I've read them a thousand times.


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