“Books are easily destroyed. But words will live as long as people can remember them.”
– Tahereh Mafi, Unravel Me
Okay I have a confession… I used to dog-ear books *stifled screams*. With no bookmarks around it was just so convenient and I never saw the issue! I look at my paperbacks now (and I hate to admit, some special edition hardbacks) and all I want to do is cry. I know, I know; how can I be such a huge book nerd but crease the pages in such a way?! Well, let me tell you, I feel like other plays of paper are so disgusting for a reader to witness that I’ve actually learnt to forgive myself. I’ve stumbled across human habits far too horrifying for a normal person to think of – if you’re easily disturbed stop reading now…
I’m gonna start with the most shocking thing I’ve read about – this actually made me feel sick (yes, I really am that much of a nerd). I read a seemingly lovely story of a family who travel together quite regularly; at every visit to the airport they buy themselves a paperback book for the journey. Cute, right? Wrong. As I continued reading, I discovered that whilst waiting for the plane or whilst in transit, they would read a chapter of a book – fairly normal, yeah. Once they had finished a chapter and moved onto the next, they would *shivers*… They would tear that chapter away from the rest of the book and throw it in the bin. I- I don’t even have the words; I probably did but my guess is they were THROWN IN THE BIN!
Okay so no, I haven’t been the best with books in the past and I do admit to folding pages and breaking spines, but I just could never have the heart to tear a book in half and throw it away. I think if I witnessed someone doing this in person I would cry and call the book abuse line (created, funded and run by myself of course).
Another thing I’ve learnt some people do is something I can’t decide if I like or not because it’s actually quite cool. Have you ever heard of Grangerization? It may seem strange at first, but I’ve really come around to it. To Grangerize a book is to augment the illustrative content of a book by inserting additional prints, drawings, engravings etc., not included in the original volume. So basically, in the eighteenth century when reading a book, people would cut segments or pictures from other similar books and stuck them into the main book.
I don’t think I’d personally have the courage to Grangerize a book, but I think the idea of it is awesome. I mean, isn’t it an author’s dream to have someone relate to their work and find connections to other cult literary pieces?
Reaching its height of popularity in the nineteenth century, not everyone saw it as a fun hobby. Taking pictures and passages from one book to stick in another antagonized some critics with one calling Grangerization a “monstrous practice” of “hungry and rapacious book-collectors.”. Another diagnosed its practitioners with “a vehement passion, a furious perturbation to be closely observed and radically treated wherever it appears, for it is a contagious and delirious mania.”. I have to say, I myself wouldn’t feel like someone needed locking up for doing this but each to their own, I guess.
Reading in the bath so the pages go all frazzled and soggy, annotating in pen, tearing, breaking the spines, you can decide for yourself which of these habits are good and which are bad. I’d love/hate to find out what other book confessions you have!
Featured image: © Javier Quiroga