Shelves and books oh my!

I had an invigorating debate with a bookish friend the other day about, of all things, book spines. It has become apparent that I am in one school of thought, and she is in quite another.

Simply put, I crack the spines of my paperbacks, and she does not.

When I was growing up, I only had a handful of books (mostly Lucy Daniels, Mallory Towers and Harry Potter) to call my own. As an avid reader, I reread and reread these books to absolute death, the spines near unreadable in the case of the Goblet of Fire. So, to me, a book isn’t your own until there is a line on the spine that says I’ve been opened and read’. The more lines, the more a book has been read. Tatty books look well loved to me. My favourite books are tea stained and dog eared and battered from being bounced about in my backpack/handbag/pocket.

My friend is of the pristine school of book keeping. She reads her books carefully so as to not mar the spines, and actually uses book marks over turned corners. I very much doubt her books have biscuit crumbs brushed off carelessly (like mine). She told me that she liked how the pristine covers looked on the shelves, and that my branch of book covers would look even more untidy next to hers.

I mean, I kinda get it – I like having a pristine new book. But at the same time, I like having a pristine cover because it means every mark made on the book is my own. Every time you read a book it gets a little thicker because you get caught in the pages and it has an impact, like you are leaving a mark on the book as its story has left a mark on you.

Before this conversation – I had no idea I would get emotional over tatty edges, nor so defensive over broken spines. I’m not all that surprised though. I do love my books.

Do you have a preference for how you books look? Do you like perfect spines or does a crease or two make you happy?


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