It’s been forever since my last confession… but this one’s a doozy. It’s not a secret that I’m am a passionate lover of books. I devour them, inhale them, drown in them. My love for literature is also very physical. The weight, the smell the paper quality, the feel of a book in my hand is among my chief joys in life. That said… there is a darker side to this declaration of love. In my fits of passion, I confess that I have been guilty of acts of book violence.
Least among my transgressions, is the generally harmless dog-earing of pages to mark my place. I know I should use a bookmark, and I really do try, (I’ve tried all sorts, tradition, cloth, metal, magnetic, post-its, etc.) but I always go back to turning down the corner of the page, There is something uniquely satisfying in the act of folding the page. It’s almost as though I’m making my mark in the book, leaving physical evidence of my journey through that world. Those little creases are my footprints… footprints I couldn’t leave with a bookmark.
The Broken Spine
As with my penchant for dog-earring, my physical relationship with reading has led me to fold my paperbacks to the point that creases and cracks weaken their bindings. There is no excuse for this beyond the fact that I have tiny hands with short thumbs, and for the sake of reading a few more chapters, I allow comfort to supercede my desire for a pristine bookshelf.
I am a passionate reader, I love hard and I hate hard. Books that disappoint me (The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart), books that annoy me (The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline), and and books that infuriate me (Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz, Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, or anything by Chad Kultgen) tend to meet a grizzly fate. I throw books that betray me. I will throw them across the room, hurl them to the floor, toss them over the side of the loft. If I pour my time and heart into a book, I want something back out of it. I want to be satisfied, fulfilled, at the very least I want to not have my intelligence insulted. I throw books without any care for their well-being, and without thought to how much I spent on them. This has, of course, resulted in torn covers, damaged pages, and on one occasion a broken window. There is catharsis is throwing a bad book… I cautiously recommend trying it out.
I once so violently hated a book that I threw it out the passenger side window of the car while traveling on the Ohio Turnpike. That book was Ahab’s Wife, or The Stargazer by Sena Jeter Naslund. That book is trash. I have no regrets.
What bookish sins are you guilty of?