Linda Maye Adams

Things that Happen to Books


Twice a year, we have a book sale at the library.  I usually go through my personal library and donate books I don’t want to keep.  Any books that are damaged end up on the free shelf.  I was surprised to see a recent best seller I’d contributed end up on that shelf.  It was because the joint at the spine was slightly frayed, probably because I’d put it in my my bag while I was reading it.

On the New York Times, Reading Life discusses What We Do to Books:

Other than that mark the book should be in near-mint condition when I start reading it, but I am not obsessive about keeping it that way. On the contrary, I like the way it gradually and subtly shows signs of wear and tear, of having been lived in (by me), like a pair of favorite jeans.

I usually have books that come in different stages of wear.

No wear at all.  Which means either I haven’t read the book, or I’ve read it once.  These are books I usually look at to donate because they aren’t re-readers.

There’s the accidental wear, which is like the above book.  The cover gets a bit frayed, or maybe it gets bent.  The latter always horrifies me.   I pull it out of my bag, and the cover is folded, and I didn’t mean to do that.

Books to be written in.  There are some books that I do write it.  I don’t do that to novels mind you, and definitely not library books — I find it terribly annoying to find that someone has corrected the punctuation or commented on the author’s writing.  But in my personal copies of non-fiction, writing in a book helps me to learn better.  In fact, I wish I’d known that while I was in school.  I would have done that to the textbooks as well.

And then there’s the old friends.  These are the books that are so good that I read them over and over.  They get wet, the covers get frayed and worn, the covers start to tear, or come off entirely.  There’s a couple I have to pay attention to because I can’t get the book any more if

What this happen to books when you read them?

3 Comments

  1. Sue

    I hate when my books get a crumpled cover or, heaven forbid, a broken spine. I have been know to mark passages in non-fiction books (my own), but never in fiction. I can read a book several times before it starts showing wear because I do try to keep them “new looking”. I can always tell the books I have lent to others to read. They come back looking like used books. I guess I’m just picky. 😀

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    • I haven’t marked up a fiction book, either, though I was tempted to when I was reading for a review. It’s much different than reading for simple pleasure!

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