What kind of care do you take of your books?

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From Booking through Thursday

Are you careful with the spines? Or do you crack your books open to make them lay flat?

A Bluestocking Knits offers the best treatment for easing the spines of books.

Do you use bookmarks? Or do you dog-ear the corners? If you do use bookmarks, do you use those fashionable metal ones? Or paper?

For taking notes, I use thin slivers of paper or index cards to mark places – several if there’s a appendix, bibliography or notes elsewhere in the book, to facilitate flipping back and forth. I dislike the book-clips that fasten over a section of pages, as I fear these will cause damage to the edges of the pages, as does dog-earing. I do have a goodly collection of decorative, flat bookmarks for use with novels and I’ve a few that I’ve embroidered (although I generally give those away to friends). A Bluestocking Knits says in her answer to this one: 

“I knew a librarian once who had a collection of things that she’d found in books, things that people had been using to mark their places — leaves, dollar bills, old letters, a boxed deck of cards, bits of string, and such (I didn’t really believe her about the strip of bacon, though).”

The strip of bacon must be a librarian’s urban myth – I heard that one, years ago, when I was working in a library, but, I do know from experience that public libraries certainly do have a collection of the weird and wonderful items that people use to mark their places.

Do you write in your books? Ever? If you do, do you make small marks, or write in as much blank space as you can find? Pen or pencil? Highlighter? Your name on the front page?

At A Level, I found that it was very difficult to make marginal notes in textbooks, even in soft pencil and unwillingly did so. I was still reluctant at University, and was appalled to see University Library book pages scrawled on in ink, or even lined using a highlighter pen 😯 Now, generally, I won’t write in books. The rare occasions when I’ve used a pen has been for an ex-libris plate or, much rarer, these days, a gift dedication.

Do you toss your books on the floor? Into bookbags? Or do you treat them tenderly, with respect?

Never toss, maybe place on the floor. Having worked in public libraries – particularly at times having cleaned and repaired books – also, having spent time in the hushed enclaves of archives and Record offices, and handled fragile, 9th-century, Anglo-Saxon, vellum ones, I have a very marked respect for books.

Do you ever lay your book face-down, to save your place?

Only already battered, read-once, paperbacks from the charity shop, never hardbacks, or new paperbacks that are likely to be kept or passed on.

Um–water? Do you bathe with your books? Hold them with wet hands? Read out in the rain? Anything of that sort?

None of these, but I did used to read on deck, where conditions tend towards dampness, however, most of the time I took a scruffy paperback that couldn’t have been ruined any more than it was, even if dropped overboard. Oops!

Are your books lined up on a bookshelf? Or crammed in any which way? Stacked on the floor?

All of these – there is never enough shelf-space for books.

Do you make a distinction–as regards book care–between hardcovers and paperbacks?

Hardbacks and paperbacks tend to be treated with equal reverence. Only already tatty, dog-eared, charity-shop paperbacks get less care.

And, to recap? Naturally, you love all of your books, but how, exactly? Are your books loved in the battered way of a well-loved teddy bear, or like a cherished photo album or item of clothing that’s used, appreciated, but carefully cared for? A Bluestocking Knits expresses my comparable sentiments regarding books so well:

….it’s not the same as a comfort object, the way that Julia, for instance, carries her Lambie around by the tail, thoughtlessly but with a certain basic need— it’s not the same as clothing, in the way that some people have rooms dedicated to their wardrobe, climate-controlled and organized by color or purpose — it’s more like close friends, that you enjoy having them around, you are considerate of their “comfort” (having a good chair for them to sit on, and tea, or a sturdy shelf), you enjoy their company when they are around and think about them when they are not, you even introduce them to others because you think they’ll get along well together. You think all of a sudden one afternoon, “I haven’t seen X in a while, I must call her!” or “Eva Ibbotson! I need to read her again!” My books are in some ways extensions of myself, too, not just like friends who are the world coming to and interacting with me, in that the books that have spoken deeply to me at different parts of my life are in a way like my diaries, except with experiences that I didn’t actually have myself.

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This entry was posted in Books.

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