Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Who’s the boss? You or your book?

The first time I sat next to Dave in the university library 46 years ago this month (are we really that ancient?)  I was appalled at his behaviour. I’d peeked inside his T S Eliot Selected Poems, that he carried around with him like a talisman, and saw marginalia on every page.  Except does marginalia include stuff scribbled between stanzas and verses, as well as in the margins?

I was brought up not to write in books. Apart from that stricture – which I mostly observe - a book is a book, and is there for my enjoyment.

My good friend Chrissie reads five times as many books as I do and has a library to match, but I stopped borrowing books from her when I realised she is one of those people who won’t bend the spine of a paperback: she has it open 90 degrees or less and peers inside it. Like my big brother.

Listen. I take care of my books. I am not a hoodlum. I like to keep their covers pristine, I don’t bend down corners of pages, I try not to drop them in the bath, but I am not going to put a book’s comfort before my own. I open my books. I want to be comfortable when I’m reading, and I am not comfortable if I am worrying about getting a crease in the spine.

Now I must go. I need to check on Abe Books, the second hand books site, to see if they have a copy of my favourite book in the same edition - Leaving Home by Garrison Keillor, paperback, publication date 1989, ISBN – 0-571-15240-6 – because this one has been read so often it’s falling apart.


Note to regular readers of the blog – the header is my photo of the new year full moon, setting behind the village, January 2010, taken from the attic.


lyn said...

Sue, I agree with you about being comfortable when I'm reading. I don't mind bending the spines of paperbacks so that I can read comfortably without cricking my neck or worrying about the state of the book when I finish. On the other hand, if I can get a lovely floppy paperback that opens fully without spine bending, that's even better.

Sue Hepworth said...

That's a relief, Lyn. I thought that as a librarian you might disapprove.

Christine said...

Sue, I don't read like that in order to preserve my books. That is just the way I read and it is comfortable and natural for me. I am still the boss!

Sue Hepworth said...

That doesn't wash. If that was the only reason you read like that, you wouldn't mind other people reading your books and bending the spine. And they are your books, and you are perfectly entitled to make those demands of people you lend your books to. PERFECTLY ENTITLED. If I lend people books, I want them back within a month, because after losing 95% of our books in the fire, I get jumpy if precious ones are out of the house for too long.

Anonymous said...

46 years??? Impressive in this day and age. Congratulations.

I love pristine books - the lovely independent bookseller in Ely covers theirs in a clear film that just adds something extra and those I can't mark in any way - but I also love well-thumbed marked books that show how much they have been enjoyed. I know someone who buys two copies if he plans to mark one, probably a bit excessive. Lol!!

Sue Hepworth said...

Hello Anonymous, Thanks for the congrats, but I think what we actually deserve is a medal and a tax break. ;)

Anonymous said...

Sue, it it were in my power to grant you'd have both! Lol!!!

galant said...

I think much depends on the book and why you are reading it. If I'm researching something I will be writing about, I put a pencil line in the margin to draw my attention to it. If I'm reading for purely for pleasure I seldom put in pencilled notes unless there is a silly error which I feel I must correct. I love pristine books, I keep my books clean, and like Christine I don't bend spines if I can avoid it. American books tend to lie open more easily, a pity British books don't do the same
Margaret P