Thursday, August 20, 2015

How Do You Love Your Books?

How do you love your books?

Do you treat them gently, never dog-earing or writing in them, keeping them stacked neatly on shelves with titles facing out? Do you occasionally cull the ones you no longer need, which is easy because you've organized them so well, and donate some and sell others (which barely look used)?

Do you smoosh them into your bag, fold down a page because you keep losing bookmarks, scribble in the margins in what is probably your worst handwriting, shove them into a drawer with other books you aren't using but can't bear to give up? Do you mark your place by putting a pen between pages, creating a permanent place that the book now opens to every time?

I have fellow MFA students who are determined to write notes about the books they're assigned only in their notebooks. It helps them think better about determining a subject for their craft annotation. It leaves the book clean, unmarked, easily kept or sold or donated.

I think this is great. I can't do it.

I mark as I read. I circle, bracket, underline, draw arrows and stars, write in the margins, all of which can mean anything. When I go back, these marks simply tell me that I had a gut response to this phrase or section. This is my starting point for choosing a subject for the craft essay.

To be honest, I also find it fun--rebelliously so--to mark up a pristine book. It's mine now! Sort of cave-woman like, isn't it? Territory! Book mine! Go find own book! No share!

Just some thoughts I had after reading Nick Ripatrazone's article in LitHub, The Pleasures of Destroying a Good Book. Not just any book: a good book. The marks of love, like a worn-out stuffed bear. I don't know that I'd go so far as to break the spine, but I get it. Come to think of it, I've broken the spines of plenty of piano music books, so what's the difference?

2 comments:

  1. I am definitely a 'keep it pristine' kind of reader these days. My 'for fun' books I like to keep all nice and tidy. But textbooks? That's a different matter. My calculus book was nearly unreadable by the end, given the four different colors of highlighter I was using ... Yet I can see the appeal of marking. But I doubt I could do it in anything other than pencil.

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