Wreck Your Books

7:00 AM



Unnecessary disclaimer: the books you own are yours and you can do what you want with them without guilt because I'm just a shouting face on the internet and I don't rule your life. By all means, keep your books in brand-new condition if that's what you want. 

I don't understand the obsession with keeping books in perfect condition. 

 Maybe that's just me, and often it feels like it, because obviously I'm in the bookish corners of the internet a lot and I see a ton of stuff talking about feeling horrified over dog-eared pages or highlights or margin notes or cracked spines or coffee stains or whatever on books you own. "I won't let people borrow my books because they'll ruin them", you say. We cringe over pictures of writing in books or sections cut out of books or people making art out of pages. 

Fair enough. 

But why

I'm not sure I have a point to this post other than just a random thought I wanted to put on the internet, but whatever. Because, see, I'm a big fan of wrecking the books I own. I just haven't done much of it yet, because up until recently I wanted to be a real book person who treated my books with respect, whatever that means. Real book nerds keep their books in pristine condition. 


Is it bad not to care? 

I buy most of my books used because a) I'm a poor child and they're way cheaper (Thriftbooks is my life right now) and b) I love the feeling of holding a book someone else has owned. I love cracked spines (confession time: I crack the spines of my hardcovers routinely) and margin notes and highlighted sentences. I love flipping to a dogeared page and wondering why, exactly, that dogear is there. Sometimes I find ink or coffee or tea stains in books I buy and it makes my heart happy. To me, at least, it makes the book feel lived-in. It's like the difference between a house where you're not allowed to bring food into the living room and my house, where everything is a happy mess. I'm a messy person. I like lived-in things. 

I like knowing that someone has owned and read and loved this book before me. 


I like doing it to my own books, too, even though I've not been very brave before. Because you know what? It's just one copy of this book. I'm not ruining the story. I can go out and buy another copy. Someone else can go and buy another copy. The cover and the words and the pages and the ink don't matter, the story does. But as soon as I start underlining things, and putting notes in the margins and hearts by those shippy scenes I love to remember (yes, I've done this), that particularly copy becomes mine. And I understand it better than anybody else. 

So no, I don't really understand why we freak out about that. There are so many different ways of loving books, and if someone likes to write all in their copy and that's how they appreciate it, I'm not going to cringe over something as petty as that. 

The same applies to making art with pages and stuff -- unless the book is a rare, valuable copy, the only copy in existence, what does it matter? You can go buy another copy. Pages make pretty art. Go do that too. 

Do you write in your books? 

29 comments

  1. It's funny how this post popped up in my feed just after I scheduled a quiz post about the condition of your books. I don't normally deliberately write or anything in my books, but I do like cracking spines and sometimes making a dog-eared page. To be honest, though, I write all over my manuscripts, books by other people shouldn't be THAT different. Very interesting post!

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    1. Ooh I can't wait to read that post. It's something I've been thinking about for a while, and I finally got up the courage to write it out. xD

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  2. THAT FIRST GIF. <3 <3

    I'm a bit on both sides of this argument. I take care of my books as best I can, don't write in them or anything, so that they look nice and pretty for as long as they can, but I also don't stress out when they DON'T look new anymore. Used books are kind of like used toys to me-- a cozy indication that they've had plenty of quality time with their owner. (Is it weird that I'm referring to books as if they were dogs?) To me, holding a new, unopened book is almost as lovely as holding one that's had some wear and tear. I have no preference. Basically: I love all the books.

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    1. Yeah, I get that! I love the smell and feel of new books, but also old books, so like you said...I basically love all books. xD But I wanted to kind of challenge the idea that book-loves have to be fussy about keeping their books in perfect condition.

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  3. My dad always stressed taking care of books : Never ever lay down an open book - you will break the spine. He was teaching us to respect books. I don't mind writing in my books, even though I mostly use e-books now, but l do try to protect them. Many of my books are hard to get so I don't want to damage them 😊

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    1. That makes sense! :) I do try not to be careless with my books, or damage them badly, but I love seeing well-used books too.

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  4. THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS. I don't understand why people freak out about this all of the time. Write in that book! Highlight sentences! Put notes and thoughts about it in the margins, dogear pages with things you love, doodle little things in it, make it yours. Personally, I think it makes them better. It makes them more unique and special and means more to you than a pristine, brand-new copy. Cracked spines on hardcovers, battered and worn-away edges on paperbacks. It's all good and beautiful and wonderful. *coughs* My copy of The Hunger Games is bent and worn and well-loved, written in and highlighted. And it's my favorite book on my shelf because of it. Or don't do any of that. Everyone has their own opinion.

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    1. Yessss. I think there's a difference between *damaging* a book and loving it, and those loved and used books tend to have a special place in my heart. I mean, really, it's up to you how you treat your books and it's all well and good to keep them in perfect condition. But using them is great too. :D

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  5. I have recently been thinking about this very topic. I used to always want to keep my books in pristine condition, and I think a part of that was that I paid money for it and I wan't to keep it nice. To an extent I still feel this way, however I have started annotating my books. I watched a booktuber talk about the topic and it did change my view on the whole thing. There is something really cool about having a personalized copy of a book that is unique to you. I'll link the video in case you are interested!

    https://youtu.be/lymm1OpFgaA

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    1. Ah, yeah, that makes sense! I don't generally totally wreck my books; for the most part I underline bits I like and occasionally make notes in the margins.

      DUDE THAT VIDEO. I love it.

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  6. if it's a book that makes me think, I definitely write in it. I want to mark it up and share it with others so they can see what it taught me and get a little sneak-peak into my head. as for keeping books in pristine condition...I'm not afraid of loving my books. I feel guilty when they get bent pages because they decided to tango around with the junk in my bag, but I don't freak out because of that. I love soft, age-worn covers and I love looking at the books that I've had since I was really young because you can literally see how many times they've been loved. the one series I'm a little more protective of is the Raven Cycle books--they're just so pretty. And even those are marked up with my notes inside.

    my childhood best friend however freaked any time someone messed with her books. I don't really get it, but to each their own. :P

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    1. Urghhhh I need to own the Raven Cycle books. The hardcovers are so pretty and I keep obsessing over them at the bookstore but never getting them. xD

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  7. I don't usually write in my books, but I have no problem with making them look well-read. Besides, almost every book I've ever bought has been from some used bookstore (because I'm thoroughly broke at all times), so it's not like I have much choice in the matter.

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    1. Used bookstores/used books in general are really the best, especially when you're like me and are always broke because...books. xD

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  8. I am so for wrecking books, you're right it doesn't wreck the story if anything it shows your love for it, based off wear and tear, and I think that's way more interesting than a book that looks like it has never been read.

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  9. Actually I dooooo write in my books. I'll underline funny/feelsy/important lines and my mom always gives me weird looks. :P

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  10. Actually, scribbling in my books and making notes to myself is something that I want to try doing as I read some of my old copies of my favorite classics. There's just something so cozy and readerly about that idea. I've been hesitant to do so because I'm kind of scarred from annotating every other page in books for English class, but I think just putting short notes that are more like inside jokes with myself will be really fun. I don't have to worry about how frequent those notes are or how much they make sense or how deep they are, and they won't ruin the flow of my reading because I don't have to stop for five minutes to squeeze a paragraph of analysis of a symbol or something on a tiny post-it note. Also, I am an unashamed book page dog-earer. However, I do cringe when books have creases in the spine. Whenever I'm reading a new paperback I barely open it to read it because I'm afraid of those creases. It's a bit ridiculous but I was scarred by my copy of Watership Down falling apart, and it was just a hardcover. Old yes, but still.

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    1. *nodnod* I haven't gotten around to my classics yet (I'm still marking up Unwind like crazy xD) but I'm excited to do that because I have so many notes and such. I usually just underline stuff, but occasionally I'll scribble in the margins.

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  11. I'm one of those people that like to keep their books in pristine conditions, and I have no idea why. You make really good points, and I love reading used books too (I can feel the love!), but I don't know why it bothers me so incredibly much when my books are even slightly ruined. (Although when I have to write something, I use a sticky note. It's a win-win.)

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    1. That's fair! I know lots of people who are that way and it's cool too; you own your books however you want to. :)

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  12. I've very rarely marked up books but I have done it. I usually do it with non-fiction more than fiction though. XD

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Oddly enough, I don't think I've ever marked up a non-fiction book...that bothers me more xD

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  13. I like this. :)

    I actually wrote a post about writing in books a while back. Because I discovered I loved it.

    I love writing my thoughts in the margins. In part because, writing helps me think. When I have all those emotions going on because it's such a good book, the only way I know how to express them is to write. Also, I would love to come across a used book with other people's notations in it. To read what they were thinking during that scene. Also, I like underlining favorite quotes to find them easily.

    Used books are the best! I love wondering about the other people who have read them. What did they take away from the book? Was it one of their favorites? How many lives has this book seen?

    I don't have to have my books in perfect condition. But it does kind of irk me when the front cover of my paper backs stick up in the air. . . I always stack other books on top of them. XD

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    1. A lot of people have issues with writing in the margins especially, but I get super excited when I find that in a book! It's so cool to see people's thoughts on things. Basically I agree with everything in this comment :)

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  14. I have no qualms about marking up books—I over-annotate my school books to the mask. And I enjoy that, because it is great for taking a test later. I really enjoy it. I'm not opposed to doing it with my other books, but usually I don't because everything takes about twice as long when you're really annotating and usually I like to just speed through books. BUT I DO HAVE HIGHLIGHTS. And I do break them. My old books look like I dragged them through a desert. It's a lot. *nods* But yes. I HIGHLY SUPPORT YOUR OPINION HERE.

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  15. This post made me so happy!! I am the exact same way with my books, and this post was put together so beautifully.

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  16. This post made me so happy!! I am the exact same way with my books, and this post was put together so beautifully.

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