L is for...Lived In

My high school boyfriend - hi, Will! - became so in part because of our mutual addiction to Stephen King. In those days, you never saw me trolling the hallways of Suitland High without a copy of THE TOMMYKNOCKERS or the gigantic THE STAND hardcover (and, naturally, my Swatch watches, Skidz pants and Asics wrestling shoes).

Then there was our mutual love of the movies. Will taught me to watch for certain directors & actors, producers & screenwriters (that was key, y'all, learning to notice); he introduced me to John Carpenter's THE THING for chrissakes! Ren & Stimpy! Bill Plympton! Liquid Television! (Ah, Aeon Flux. Whither??)

Sigh. 1982 Kurt Russell. Does it get any better?
But amid these similarities was a difference. When a new addition to Will's Stephen King Library arrived, for instance, I had to read it without cracking the spine or bending pages.

And that, y'all, ain't how a sista reads.

I believe books are meant to be lived in. I believe in cracking spines and cracking 'em hard, forcing the ribs of the book wide open. Dissecting plots with sharp dog-ears, marking a passage's can't-stop-what-I'm-doing intensity with coffee rings, creasing covers until they wrinkle like bed sheets. Books should be devoured. Consumed. Digested into the well-worn pulp of satisfaction for the next reader, like breaking in the ass of a pair of jeans before passing them on.

Speaking of which, I hope like hell Carpenter broke in the original enough that this new prequel won't suck.  It has Scott Pilgrim's Ramona and LOST's Mr. Eko. A good sign??

Anyway, what about you? Handle your books with kid gloves or the bloody prints of a reader in the trenches?


Tere Kirkland | April 14, 2011 at 11:54 AM

I'm pretty rough on my books. I take pleasure in cracking the spine of a new paperback (although I do take more care with signed copies), and tend to write in the margins of the ones I love.

Lizard301 | April 14, 2011 at 12:03 PM

I borrowed the first installment of the Tolkien's LOTR trilogy from JP a few months ago after one of our movie marathon weekends. The collection is in paperback and probably close to 20+ years old. He rarely reads, so the fact that he's read these books more than once spoke volumes.

I got about 60 pages in, and made then made the egregious error of dog-earing the page. Long story short, let's just say that I have yet to pick it back up and finish it after being on the receiving end of THAT fiasco.

This is why I hate borrowing books from anyone, unless I already know they live in their books as well. I feel like I'm walking through someone's pristine house with muddy shoes. How are you supposed to lose yourself in the "willing suspension of disbelief" when you're constantly worrying about muddying up the house?

One day I will have my own collection of well-worn books. They will all most likely have dog-ears, broken spines, water-warped pages, random crumbs embedded between pages, along with various unidentified sticky smudges for good measure. :)

Basically, I feel ya.

I like ereaders for the convenience. It's a lot easier to carry 20 books on travel with that device than in physical form. But for books I truly love, they will have to be preferably hardcover and completely lived in.

Just sayin'.

Nate Wilson | April 14, 2011 at 12:12 PM

I tend not to do the staining-creasing-cracking myself, but my home is certainly a refuge for the used and abused. I only turn 'em away if they fall to pieces the moment I touch them.

By the way, nice trickery with the Tommyknockers/Thing thing. A wonderful doubly lived-in post.

Jessica Bell | April 14, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Yeah, I'm pretty blase about my books. It's the words that matter! Mind you, I couldn't live without the real thing. e-readers make me sad ...

mshatch | April 14, 2011 at 8:43 PM

I'm careful with my hardcovers, no folding the corner of pages, harder on the soft.

Love The Thing.

James Garcia Jr | April 14, 2011 at 10:39 PM

You grabbed my attention with "The Thing". Great film. No, I'm afraid that I'm one of those overprotective types.

Have a great weekend.


Kris | April 17, 2011 at 10:40 PM

I pull off the slipcovers on my hardbacks and toss em right in the trash. I miss the pretty pictures, but the look of the bare spines on the shelf are so sexy to me. (And I love the little surprises under there sometimes...)

SO it should come as no surprise that I'm not super gentle with my books... I still have a copy of a book called Half Magic that I tore in half when I walked into a parking meter while reading it on the way home from school. A little bit of packing tape fixed it right up! (In fact, for a while, I ran a line of tape down all of my books before reading them in anticipation of the damage.

Which is why I really need them to come up with a sturdier e-reader. my nook is a trooper, but man is it getting the crap banged out of it after a year and 200 books...

Anonymous | April 25, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Yeah, an ex-boyfriend NEVER creased the spine or dog eared a page. EVER.

I can't do that. When I'm don with a book, it looks like it's been read. *nods emphatically*

Tamara Narayan | April 25, 2011 at 2:39 PM

I eat when I read. Open one of my Stephen King books and out falls a freakin' picnic. Of course, losing a word or two to a chocolate ice cream stain is problematic, but that's living, baby.

Arlee Bird | April 27, 2011 at 2:36 PM

I tend to keep most of my books looking almost as good as new. My library is almost like the shelves in a bookstore.
I keep starting to watch The Thing on streaming video and then I decide on something else. I'm going to watch it soon.

Tossing It Out

Fairday Morrow | June 29, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Hi Zoe-
I met you at the Unicorn Writer's Conference back in April. I stopped by your blog a while back and signed up to follow. I have been so busy I haven't had time to stop by again until today! I am also a HUGE King fan! I enjoyed this post.

How is your MS coming?

If you have a chance- stop by our website for our middle grade novel www.jessicahaight.com or stop by our blog: http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/. Stephanie and I would love to hear how you are doing!

Best of luck-
Jess- although I may show up as the main character from our book, Fairday. Wires are crossed somewhere and I can't figure out how to fix it.

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