Turning Corners, Breaking Spines: Confess Your Reading Rituals

Alison Morris -- May 13th, 2008

When I was reading last week and silently comparing my own reading behaviors to those of others in my family it occurred to me that I’m unnecessarily kind to my ARC’s while reading them. I try not to break their lovely little spines, unless I’m trapped somewhere without a makeshift bookmark. I don’t turn down the corners of their pristine pages, and I try to keep from dripping, spilling, or leaving anything on them, greasy fingerprints included. (Unless I hate the book in question, in which case all bets are off.) I generally give finished books the same white glove treatment, though honestly? I don’t know why this is. It gives me great pleasure to see books on others’ bookshelves that look truly LOVED, their cracked spines and dog-eared pages sporting the evidence of pages that have been more just "perused." I don’t think of myself as being overly concerned with neatness and I don’t care if other people borrow my books and return them bruised — I just prefer not to do the bruising myself.

It would make sense to conclude that these "preserve the dust jacket"-type behaviors have evolved from my life as a bookseller, but looking back I think I’ve always been this way. Was I destined, then, for a life of schlepping new books rather than those of the used or oft-loaned variety? Hmm… I haven’t the foggiest.

Another curious reading behavior of mine: When we get multiple copies of an ARC at the store and they get passed around among our booksellers, I ultimately want the copy that comes back to me for keeps to be the same copy that I read personally. I don’t care if other people read that ARC after me, and I don’t even care if it’s in a miserable, bedraggled condition compared to the others in circulation — I still want the copy I own to be the copy I read. Period. Will I pitch a hissy fit if that doesn’t happen? No. Will I usually even KNOW that the ARC you’re giving me isn’t the very same one that I read? No. Of course not. (Because I won’t mark my name in it — see previous neatness concerns.) But ideally if an ARC or a finished book is going to take up residence in my home library, I prefer to have actually read IT, meaning THAT VERY COPY, for some weirdly sentimental reason, I guess.

What about you — are you a neat reader or a book bruiser? And have you got any theories as to WHY that is? Do you have any other odd or intriguing reading habits to confess? Any conditions that need to be in place in order for you to start reading a book? Maybe a unique reading ritual? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Have a seat on this here couch and tell your fellow readers about them.

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