Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Use or Abuse?

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          As I read books I’ve purchased, I underline sentences that speak to me. I mark passages I love with vertical lines in the margins. I also make comments there.

I never fold down a page corner to mark where I stopped reading. Scraps of paper are my usual bookmarks or I sometimes leave books splayed open when I stop reading. I fold lower corners to denote pages that I know I will want to reread. I only fold down upper corners if a lower corner is not available having been folded the opposite way on the previous page.

All of this use or abuse is the carnal love of books as discussed by Anne Fadiman in her essay “Never Do That to a Book” starting on page 37 of Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. [Some people prefer their books stay in pristine condition—that’s courtly love of books.] I believe, as does Fadiman, that “Hard use was a sign not of disrespect but of intimacy.” (page 38)

I’ve treated my books like this since I was in my teens. When I pick up any one of my books and flip through it, I can immediately see if it is important to me even if it’s been years since I read it. When I reread one of these books, I can also read how I felt about it back then. Sometimes I still agree. Other times, I make new comments.

Never guessing that I would be reviewing books in magazines and on blogs in the future, my system now makes it easy to find the lines I want to quote in reviews. Also, my comments remind me why I want to recommend these books to other readers.

Obviously, I don’t loan these books. They are personal—clearly marked and all mine. However, I am happy to share my thoughts about them in hopes other readers will love them, too.

How do you treat books you love?

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