My Books. My Life.

"Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." ~Voltaire~

Books and the Good Life: Showing our affection April 12, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michelle @ 3:50 pm

This part discusses how we take care of books and how it shows that we love them.

Why pay a dollar for a bookmark? Why
not use the dollar for a bookmark?

~ Fred Stoller ~

I
am what you might call a book-abuser. 
When I read a book, it looks like it’s been read.  It has creases on its binding, folded and
ripped pages, stains from whatever I was eating or drinking at the time, and in
some cases duct tape where a cover or binding should be.  It gets thrown into whatever bag I am
carrying, slept on, and held open upside down for hours.  It also gets used for storing things.  I constantly find money, tickets, receipts,
and notes in books that I read years ago. 
My husband is the opposite.  He
likes his books to look clean and new. 
When he was reading the sixth Harry Potter paperback, he actually
managed to never open the book all the way in order not to get any creases on
the binding (of course, when I read it, I broke it in properly).  When I bend a book too far, or place it open
on a table, he makes a screaming noise like the book is hurting.  He actually hesitates letting me read one of
his books.

I
think we represent two different types of readers.  He thinks books should be loved and taken
care of.  I think they should be loved
and read.  What good is a book that looks
as if no one has ever read it?  That book
does not look loved to me.  But to him,
the care he takes in keeping it looking new shows how much he cherishes the
book.  He says that my books look like
orphans.  But I think they look like many
people love them and read them all the time. 
As long as you can still read the words, I think the state of the book
is unimportant. 

We
disagree about how to show respect for our books, but we do agree that they
deserve some respect.  People show that
they love others in different ways.  Some
do it by giving expensive gifts, others might do it by planning romantic
dinners, and other might do it by just listening to their loved one when they
need someone to talk to.  The same
applies to books.  We love our books
differently, but we still love them, and that is what matters.  To all readers, books are a thing to be
cherished and adored however you choose. 
Simply having something to love and cherish makes your life fuller and
happier.  In this way, owning books can
easily fit into the idea of a good life.

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4 Responses to “Books and the Good Life: Showing our affection”

  1. Emily Says:

    There's an essays in Ex Libris about this too. Anne Fadiman describes the two types of book lovers as "courtly" and "carnal" – which I find pretty humorous. I'm definitely a courtly book owner, but I'm trying to be more carnal. I'm more fussy about my hardcovers lately, because a lot of them are signed or I'd like to get them signed someday. But I'm trying to be less uptight about my paperbacks. I just read The Gathering and allowed myself to write in it with a pencil and put it in my bag without first wrapping it up in a plastic bag. :)Also, for classics (unless they are a particularly nice edition I'm trying to keep nice) I always mark them up, in pen or pencil. I view reading classics as very educational, and I like to make notes in the margins and underline things I want to find again. However, I never, ever, break a spine. 🙂

  2. Kristie Says:

    I tend to write in some books, but not others–there isn't really a reason why I write in some and not others. I always write in books for school or the ones we discuss in bookclub. I'm beginning to write more in books that I read just for pleasure. I don't write in hardcovered books though–I'm not sure why. I don't write in my Harry Potter books for some reason unbeknown to me.I don't really mind what state the book looks like from the outside. If I see someone carrying a beaten up book I tend to think that they read it a lot or it's from a used book store where the previous owner read it a lot–I don't see it as not taking care of the book. I agree that books should look read, so I don't mind if my bindings break (as long as they're still together)

  3. Maria Says:

    I don't write in any books other than my textbooks. Sometimes I wish I did, because there are passages and quotes I would like to reread but for some reason I never think to underline anything while reading the book…
    And I guess I'm a fellow book-abuser Michelle! I like my books to look like they've been read… As long as the pages aren't falling off it's ok! 😉

  4. michelle Says:

    I'm a mix, leaning towards "loved and taken care of". While I like my books to look nice and clean and neat, I also like to mark them – whether in the margins, or underlining certain phrases that I love. If I'm buying a used book, I'm more prone to purchase one that looks newer. Probably because it looks "prettier" on my bookshelf! 🙂


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