I have a confession to make: I dog-ear my books.
Yep, that’s right. To note my place before I stop reading, I’ll quickly fold down the top right corner and crease it with my nail to make sure it stays. And when I pick the book back up again, I lovingly smooth the corner back into its rightful shape and read until my train pulls into the station or I stop to make dinner, at which point, I’ll dog-ear another corner.
Ok, I know this is controversial. I’m aware that there’s a popular school of thought among avid readers that says Do No Harm (To Books), which includes breaking spines, writing in the margins, and the pesky dog-eared corner. Some readers consider altering a book’s original form to be a cardinal sin and that those who do simply just don’t respect the literature.
As the Senior Editor of Read It Forward, I’m definitely a book lover. I often trip over stacks of hardcovers piled precariously around my apartment. I’ve been so engrossed in novels that I’ve missed my stop on the subway during my morning commute and ended up in Queens—multiple times. Read It Forward’s TBR calculator tells me I’ll be 91 before I finish everything on my current “To Be Read” list.
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But I believe that books are meant to be loved—to be creased, to be folded, to be stained by an errant drop or two of coffee. I enjoy taking a beloved book I’ve read multiple times off my shelf and looking at the pages. I am reminded by the faint trace of folded corners where I’d stopped along the way. Some sections are bigger than others, meaning I never paused once while engrossed in those pages. It’s almost as if those corners serve as a scrapbook from my reading journey.
And while I use the top corner to mark my place, I’ll often fold the bottom corner on pages where there is a particularly lovely phrase I know I’ll want to come back to. When I re-read these passages, they instantly transport me to the way I was feeling when I initially read it.
I like my books to live full lives right alongside mine. To feel the sand in between their pages when I’m reading on the beach or to have the edges curl up from moisture in my wrinkly fingers after I’ve been reading in the bathtub. And when they get put away on my shelves, I feel as though they’re good friends who have grown up with me—we may be a little wrinkled, but no worse for wear.
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