Handle with Care: My Book Rules

Before today’s post, a little public service (or lack thereof) announcement: I know I haven’t been posting much. Whenever the regularity of my posting on my blog slips below what I consider the minimum required (2 posts a week, me thinks) a sharp guilt begins to gnaw away at my insides and I fear that you, lovely blog reader, will abandon me, as all those insufferable How To Blog Right blog posts assure me you inevitably will. But things are happening behind the scenes (she says mysteriously) that may adversely affect my posting rate between now and the end of the year. I’ll do my best, but if I go missing for a few days, my Twitter stream starts to grow cobwebs or emails go unanswered, you’ll know why: I’m either knee deep in my mysterious commitments, or I’ve bought the final season of 24 on DVD.

Right. Anyway. Last week I mentioned that I spent a tiny fortune on the new Penguin Classic editions of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works, the most beautiful books I ever did see. I was delighted to come across this “Making Of” video on the Penguin blog, my favourite part being the concern that these books end up in good homes:

My books are my most prized possessions. If the house was on fire I would grab (i) people, (ii) my Mac, (iii) my red leather bound, limited to 150, personally inscribed edition of Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly and (iv) however many other books I could feasibly carry. Books to me are like memories: a souvenir of the reading experience, a reminder of a certain time or place in my life, symbolic of that really bad day at work when the only light in my life was a 3 for 2 binge in Waterstones. My ultimate dream is to live in a house brimming with books, and to achieve that dream it means all my books must survive.

The following activities are expressly forbidden when anywhere near my beloved books:

  • Lending. Chances are they won’t come back and if they do, all manner of horrors will have befallen them. Buy your own or join a library. Just leave me and my books alone.
  • Aggressive reading. There is simply no need to crack the spine every time you turn to a new two-page spread, and bending the book back on itself so that you’re only looking at one page at a time is completely uncalled for.
  • Deliberate bending or creasing of pages. BUY A BOOKMARK, YOU SADIST!
  • Writing. If you must make notes, do so in a notebook. If you need to scribble down a note, do not reach for the nearest book. Most of my mum’s books contain shopping lists in the otherwise blank back pages – I’m all for recycling but that is just a crime.
  • Cover sticker roulette. Price tags and Waterstones’ “3 for 2” stickers always come off easily, but you can’t be so sure with “Signed by the author” ones. As there is nothing worse than a sticker that leaves half of itself behind (but not enough to peel off – ugh!) you’re better off just leaving them on.
  • Dust jacket abuse. Just because it’s not part of the book itself doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve your respect. Take it off while you’re reading for maximum carefulness. Also: using the inside flaps for a bookmark is only permitted at the beginning and end of the book; using it to mark your place elsewhere will only pull the dust jacket out of shape.
  • Coffee rings. BUY A COASTER, YOU SADIST!

  • Reading. Yes, reading. In special circumstances, books are not to be read, as the edition has been bought for gazing-at-adoringly purposes only. (I have previously read other editions.) Examples of this: my stunningly beautiful red and black paperback edition of The Stand, the aforementioned F. Scott Fitzgerald books, the signed edition of Generation A by Douglas Coupland which wears my personalized dust jacket,If I could put them in locked display cases, I would.

What do you do – or not do – to your books?