I tend to be hard on books. I always prefer paperback to hardcover because I like to bend them and lay on them and etc. The bindings of my books, especially those I have read and re-read, are lined with white and sometimes illegible. I am quick to lend books, and when I “lend” a book, I normally mean for the recipient to either keep it or to pass it on to someone else. I learned this from my mother; when I was growing up, my house was a channel through which books flowed freely. She would loan and replace (with a different book), loan and replace. There were always new books to read. Books are not to be kept, they are to be shared.
What I’ve found in academia, however, is that this tenet of mine is not regularly shared by my collegues. Clearly it’s a function of books being integral to what we do, and I understand this fully, and have even adopted a “book keeping” policy for any book that I anticipate will be useful to any work I may do in the near future. But for the most part, I still am, what some would characterize as, careless with books. This makes me not the best book borrower in the world. And I am attempting to change my ways, mostly by not borrowing books unless from a library (library books I tend to treat with great respect). And I have successfully borrowed and returned unscathed books to several friends in the past year.
[No, Deb, this is not a post about me ruining the book I borrowed from you last week. You can breathe that sigh of relief now.]
But I happened upon another explanation for my irreverent treatment of books and my specific affinity for the bendy paperback today as I sat with Big J at the piano while he practiced. As we turned the pages, he and I took turns taking his primer down from the sound board and forcefully flattening and/or bending the spine of the book so it would lie still.
I remember as a child that I would beat my piano books into submission so that while I played, the pages would not turn themselves.