10/28/10

How to read a book

Something has to be done.

I've read a lot of books and collected considerably more. The thing is, I don't keep them in pristine condition, I don't even treat them well.

I watch some people who read books like they're trying to keep them in mint condition like they'll be worth more someday... they won't. A used book is a used book unless it was in a limited print or in a certain age category. Besides, a book is only worth as much as someone felt when they read the book.

I will tell you what I mean.

My edition of the Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret Lawrence is in absolute tatters. The binding fell completely apart because I lugged that thing to and from Timbuktu. It's literally being held together with an elastic wrapped around the entire text, a chunk of the cover cut out where the library bar-code used to be, the title page has 'discard' stamped across it in garish red: and I wouldn't have it any other way. My Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris has A Grande Non-fat Salted Caramel Mocha spilled all over the cover and side pages because I put a half-full to-go mug in the same bag. Voyager by Dianna Gabaldon? Well, that was a Decaf Single Venti Cinnamon Dulce Cappuccinno. You get the point that way... but let me be super clear. I don't just spill stuff on them, I wear them thin. They get notes scribbled on them and accidentally dumped into bathtubs, re-dried by hand with a hair dryer and then used to prop up the restaurant table on a date with my husband. After all, if you were a writer how would you want your books to look like when someone was done with them?

Here's what my stained and dog-eared books say: I enjoyed your book so much that I couldn't live without it for a single moment of my day, just in case I was stuck waiting in someone's office, my kid fell to sleep or I found myself randomly bored out of my skull. I loved it so much It stayed with me through my morning coffee, my afternoon melt down and when I ran into that old friend at the store and needed paper for her new number.

Those who keep their books supremely clean don't love their books, they cage them. If you truly love your book- it should go everywhere with you.

What's that funky smell? Oh, nothing- just my copy of Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire.

2 comments:

yukondude said...

I once had a copy of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich go completely rolodex on me. The covers had long since fallen off so you couldn't even tell where it began. It was just cylinder o' book.

Anonymous said...

This was fun to read - my books always get messed up, at least dog-eared.

People do seem more likely to return loaned books to me if they are in good condition and I do like sharing my favourite stories!

-Val