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Musing Monday … Treatment of books

September 15, 2008

MizB at Should Be Reading this week discusses the treatment of books. Do you treat books carefully, or do you just treat them as any other object? Do you have certain things you refuse to do with books (write in them, etc)? If so, what are they?

Oh boy this is one topic that really gets me going so I’ll try not to get on my soap box so early on Monday morning. I was taught, at a very young age, never to mistreat a book in any form, the only exception to the rule being textbooks and even then. That must explain why I was a lousy college student ~ I didn’t want to mark up my textbooks!

I never:

  • dog-ear/crease pages
  • break spines
  • bend covers
  • write/mark in
  • handle books with messy/sticky hands
  • or do anything else that mars a book in any way

Most people even wonder if I’ve actually read the book because it leaves my ownership in mint condition. 99.9% of the time I could return a book after reading it and no one would be the wiser. I don’t but I could.

I don’t lend books anymore because I’m appalled by the condition in which they are returned to me. I guess I’ve set my expectations kind of high but if you borrow something, anything, you should return it in the condition that you received it. If not, replace it.

If I give books away I try to include bookmarks to encourage good behavior. I’ve bypassed buying used books because of the condition or I search for least damaged if I really, really have to have it.

Library books ~ don’t get me started. I’ve always wondered why patrons figure they can abuse library books. I’ve gotten new, bestsellers from the library that already have broken spines, spills, marks, dog-eared pages and I’m only the 2nd user to handle the book. What gives?

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How do you treat your books or feel about the treatment of books? Let me know.

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10 Comments
  1. September 15, 2008 11:30 am

    I, too, don’t lend my books out any more — or, at least, not very often (and when I do, it’s only to people who I KNOW will treat my ‘babies’ kindly!) LOL. Not to mention, I want my books back, so the people I lend to have to be extremely trustworthy, IMO!

    As for library books, I will dog-ear pages of them, but ONLY if they’re not brand new (I check the number of date stamps on the tag at the back)… I can’t do that to a brand-new book — I’ll use PostIts instead. 😉

  2. September 15, 2008 1:22 pm

    Hi – first time muser here.

    I won’t get library books anymore, either. Maybe library should include a lecture about book etiquette with new library cards. Whatever happened to respect for other people’s property.

    Enjoyed reading your blog.

    Robin of mytwoblessings

  3. amandasue permalink
    September 15, 2008 3:59 pm

    I’m super careful with my books and always treat them wonderfully! I hate when people dog ear books, thats what bookmarks, scrap of paper or post it notes are for 🙂

  4. September 15, 2008 8:00 pm

    Ha ha, are you a Virgo? I’m just like you! I don’t even get how people can GO AROUND with dirty, sticky hands, let alone actually TOUCH things with them, ugh. 🙂 And especially books.

  5. September 16, 2008 3:38 am

    I totally know what you mean. Most of my books, even ones that I’ve read many times are still in mint condition. I loaned book 1 of The Series of Unfortunate Events out to (not joking) 20 different people and it really looks unfortunate now…

  6. Lori Barnes permalink
    September 16, 2008 8:31 am

    I no longer allow people to borrow my books if i’m lucky to get them back i’ve found bent pages and mortified to see the cover bent back. I want my books to stay as new looking as possible so i’ve learned to say no i’m sorry i haven’t read that one yet lol!

  7. Lee permalink
    September 17, 2008 2:28 pm

    Little sister, did we grow up in the same house? I don’t remember being taught quite that strictly (well, about the Bible, yes…)

    I dog-ear pages, but only of mass-market paperbacks, and only if I have no choice.

    I try very, very hard not to break the backs of hardbound books. I try not to let them get messy, either. I will sometimes write or mark in a book, but rarely. I find highlighting and underlining to be distracting, but marginal notes left by others can be fascinating.

    I do lend books, but rarely borrow them, either from people or from the library, since my reading schedule rarely matches the lending schedule. I don’t mind the condition of library books, as long as the pages are hanging together. And since I get a lot of my books used, I’ve learned not to be too picky about condition. I really hate bent covers on paperbacks, though, and price stickers that don’t come off neatly.

    I think I treat books more like commonplace objects than like sacred objects (though there are a few, including some beloved books that are out of print, that are more sacred than not). I my desire is for the ideas and stories contained, not the container, for the most part (at least as long as it’s my property).

  8. September 18, 2008 1:15 pm

    Hi all,

    First chance I’ve had to stop by ‘Musing Mondays’ this week and respond to your comments.

    Yeah for us. For the most we all treat our books as friends and with respect which I know reflects on how we treat the people in our lives.

    MizB~
    No excuses for you anymore in dog-earring books. 🙂 You can get all sorts of great items at your new job to use as bookmarks!

    Robin~
    Welcome to ‘The Printed Page’. Respect for other people’s property went out the door about the same time as using manners did.

    Amandasue~
    Post it notes, check deposit slips, magazine inserts – they work great and a very handy. What’s with the dog-ears anyway?!

    Dew~
    I’m not a Virgo but a mix of Sagittarius with a healthy dose of Scorpio thrown in for good measure. Sticky hands remind me of small children and those are the kind that visit for about a minute or two then leave.

    Lenore~
    Loaning books is a thing of the past for me. I’ve moved to reading a Kindle so no more physical books or my ARCs I pass along.

    Lori~
    I’ve lent out books that I’ll never see again no matter how many times I gently remind the borrower. There’s no 2nd chances in book borrowing.

    Oh brother of mine~
    How silly of you to jump to the conclusion that it was Mom and Dad you thought I was referring to. 🙂

    I’m sure they played some part in it but along the way an elementary teacher or two plus the school and local librarians all instilled in me a love of books and how they should be treated with respect.

    I’m buying you bookmarks for Christmas!! Lots and lots of them.

  9. Elizabeth M. permalink
    September 21, 2008 1:45 pm

    I am so gentle with my books that they still look brand new when I’m done. I’m slightly obsessive about being careful actually. Nobody else in the family is careful though. My hubby just abuses his books.

  10. September 26, 2008 10:58 am

    Hi Elizabeth~
    Being gentle with books is just built into me. I’ve found myself actually wanting to say some thing to people who have a cover bent backwards but I never do. It drives me nuts but book abuse is my own kind of crazy.

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