Readers, how do you treat your books?

I’m a spine breaker. I admit it. I buy a new book and the first thing I do is break the spine. I like my books to literally fall open to the page I was last at. I also like to read with the book folded over, like this:

That said, I can’t dog-ear pages. I literally can’t do it. If I can’t find a bookmark I’ll use anything to mark my spot – a receipt, a bobby-pin… anything! The idea of dog-earing a page is awful. But, the other night I was perfectly happy to let my bird nibble along the edge of myΒ pages while I was reading.

I’m a complete and utter contradiction! How do you treat your books? Do you write in the margins? Break the spines? Spill food all over the pages? Or when you finish a book does it still look perfect? I love my books looking battered and well-loved πŸ™‚

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
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95 Responses to Readers, how do you treat your books?

  1. rlsharpe says:

    I’m the same as you. I always break the spine, and I don’t dog-ear pages, anything will do as a book mark except that.


  2. Lani says:

    Spine-breaking πŸ˜› is inevitable when you read a good book over and over again. I actually don’t like it when books fall apart, pages fall out, etc. I enjoy the feel of a new and old/worn down book. But this is a good question to ask when you borrow books! I remember my friend joking about how worn his book was after I borrowed it! Egats! I don’t mind dog-ears, reminds me of my youth, when I was getting into reading – the “pre-bookmark era”. These days, I’m like you, I’ll use anything for a bookmark…even a lumpy pen. Cheers!


  3. Bryan says:

    I work really hard to keep my books in the best possible condition. And I get grumpy if I accidentally crease one of my spines! That picture you posted makes me cringe!!


  4. That poor book!

    I can’t break the spines like that. I generally don’t dog ear pages, either. However, I will eat with a book, so several have chocolate smudges or soup splashes on the pages.

    I have several actual book marks, but I usually just use the receipt or other scraps of paper.


  5. laurenlola says:

    I always treat my books as if they’re made of glass, to keep them in the best condition possible. However, I don’t always get the desired results.


  6. Geo Sans says:



  7. Currently re-reading my novel series and marking up changes for next edition. So definitely scribbling in my copies.


  8. If it’s one I love? I duck tape the spine because I can’t bear to throw it out. Even when I spring for a new copy, i’ll keep the duct taped version on the shelf. Hence why 3/4 of my Anne McCaffrey books are a duct taped mess! But, still readable!


  9. Either I use a bookmark or a homemade one out of a tri-folded sheet of paper. Might be due to me wanting to keep the pages as smooth and crisp as possible for the sheer fact that I tend to let other read the book or introduce them to said book. A first impression sort of thing in a way.


  10. Here’s a very relevant pic. My recent adventures – fussed to get the non scuffed paperback of Kevin Hearne’s Hounded, knowing I’d ruin it within the first read through anyway… Also managed to trip, throw a book and a coffee so they kind of melded in mid air like captain planet. *sigh*


  11. Liked by 1 person

  12. equinoxio21 says:

    Oh. no, no! That’s a no-no. spine-breaking? Poor things! πŸ™‚


  13. Nyambura says:

    I almost never dog-ear pages, the sound of any book’s spine breaking makes my lip quiver, and raggedy looking edges…Oh, I CAN’T…TOO MUCH, THIS…


  14. Tempest says:

    Seeing that picture makes me want to cry. Books shouldn’t be treated like that.
    Most of mine are perfect, or neatly. The ones I read the most are slightly yellowed.
    One thing I have to do is with hardbacks. I remove the dust jacket and put it flat in a special drawer. I don’t like them, they get in the way and slip, getting tattered around the top and bottom.
    Just nope.


  15. Sam says:

    I break spines, but not to the folded-over extent. I also underline a few passages while reading; if something really speaks to me. Jury’s still out on dog-earing pages. I need to find a way to get back to those awesome passages.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I have this almost religious reverence for physical books. The first accidental crease in a page, the first fingerprint on the cover, the first lines of wear on the spine… these all make me a little sad. Of course, some of my old favorites from youth look so very worn, I have one where the cover is obscured by white from having rubbed off.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My books are all definitely well loved, bent covers, yellowed pages and the occasional tea spillage are always signs of many hours lost in its story. Ive never been a big dog earer – remembering the page number is an old habit, i lose bookmarks far too easily!


  18. Really try to take care of them – just in case our technology is off or there is a pause in access. A book in hand is always wonderful. I do write in books that I love and plan to keep forever! You really know how to make people think woman!


  19. jclfaltot says:

    I write in nearly every book I read. Unless I borrow it. Then I must restrain myself greatly.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Erica Lynn says:

    I used to dog-ear my pages, but I stopped doing that once I started appreciating my books as more than tools for school. Now I use bookmarks, but I get what you mean by a desire to have books that feel used and loved well – so I write in the margins, I underline, and I break the spines, but I never eat while reading because I hate crumbs in books.


  21. I treat my books very well…probably TOO well. I try to keep the spine from breaking, NEVAAAR fold them over, and dog-earing is a criminal offense! I use bobby pins all the time to bookmark XD I’ve had books that end up looking BETTER than when I first bought them, after a little fixing up and pressing them to keep the paperback covers from flipping up.


  22. Heather M. says:

    I like for my books to look brand new when I finish them. That said, I love buying books from a used book store that has a broken spine. I wonder who had it before me and what they were doing in between chapters. While I won’t dog ear my own books, I find it fascinating to find a used book that has been dog eared, especially if it’s in the middle of a chapter. Maybe I put too much thought into a battered book.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I cannot dog-ear pages. Even just witnessing someone folding the corner of a page down sends an unpleasant chill down my spine. My husband and I once got in a huge fight about it.

    But, I love a healthy crease in the spine. Though if the spine gives the book might as well be dead.

    I try and keep food and drinks off my books, but I love food, so that doesn’t always work out so well.

    After 2 or 3 read-throughs, I’ll take notes in the margins, or write definitions for words I don’t know. But never on the first read.


  24. Beth Caplin says:

    Ahhhh!!! Not the spine!!! Anyone who borrows my paperbacks must sign a Book Borrowing Agreement (not unlike Sheldon Cooper’s roommate agreement) not to touch my spines!!

    Just kidding. Maybe πŸ˜‰


  25. davemstrom says:

    I cannot bring myself to harm a book. I cannot break spines or dog-ear pages. In college, I found it difficult to underline in a textbook. I can’t write in them. I always cross out somebody else’s long essays in used book margins as to how much he hates the book, I can decide that myself, thank you very much.

    All rules have exceptions. I would find it hard not to harm Atlas Shrugged, which I will have to read more for research. My superheroine Holly would throw that book across the room. And through the wall and into the next room.


  26. booksnbakery says:

    I literally cringed when i saw the picture of the book folded like that! Ouch! I can’t handle it when I see a book folded over like that. I don’t mind if i buy them with the spine broken but heaven forbid if i do it! i make sure people know how to hold one of my classic books before i leave it in their hands. i’m that picky , but my husband is worse!


  27. S. Toman says:

    I’m pretty gentle with my books, but once in a while I dog-ear a page, leave the book open side down to save a page, or it gets crunched inside a backpack.

    The worst thing that’s ever happened to one of my books is that I put it inside my backpack in the same pocket as my watercolor paints. I thought the paints were dry only to find out later they were not. Blue and green splotches leaking onto the pages. That poor book was then later loaned out to a classmate…who lost it and gave me a different copy in its place thinking I wouldn’t notice. Pages falling out, all sorts of wear and tear. I was not happy. Once in a while I wonder what ever happened to that book, and what adventures its had without me.


  28. CJ RenΓ© says:

    I let the reading do what it is going to do. I love the moment the book spine lets go under my hands; I change the book (physically) while it changes me.


  29. 2youth says:

    I like to find small paperback semi-classics and carry them around in my knapsack everywhere I go until they are tanned and scuffed. Some will get read and some will just hang out with me. One of my favorite books is a copy of Ray Bradbury’s ‘Martian Chronicles’ that I found in pieces in a University lobby and carefully bound back together with packing tape over the spine.


  30. Michael Roberts says:

    Too damage a book to me is near sacrilegous (to stretch the truth a little). I dislike how books get slightly dirty rummaging around in the bottom of a bag. I was once tempted to cut the “good” stories of an anthology to make it more manageable, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I never use a bookmark, my brain remembers page numbers easily.


  31. Michael Roberts says:

    The words of a book should crush our emotions, not us their spine. πŸ™‚


  32. ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) says:

    I think I felt a jolt of physical pain seeing that photo of the purposefully broken spine. Oh dear.

    That being said, while I am sad to see a book fall to tatters after a time, I am not upset or angry because a book falling apart is a book well read. I love to keep them in the best shape possible for as long as I can, though.

    For hardcovers, I will often remove the jacket so that it doesn’t get ragged while reading it. No dog-ears and for paperbacks, I will alternate how I set it down on the table (front cover up or back cover up) so that it ends up staying as flat as possible when shut. πŸ™‚

    But hey, if you want to break the spine of your own books – by all means! (Just don’t do it to mine that I lend. πŸ˜€ )


  33. WhitneyDawnWest says:

    If a page in my book rips, I feel like a part of me has shattered as well. As odd as that may seem I cannot bring myself to write in a book. It seems destructive to me. I am a bit of a perfectionist and I like to keep things neat and tidy. The idea of writing in a book is terrifying to me.

    Writing in a book seems permanent to me. If I need to remember something from a book I find a post it note and place it in the book. That way I can always edit my writing.

    When I need to stop I usually reach for something near by to save my place. I tend to lose bookmarks. More often than not my bookmark ends up being a crinkled receipt I found in my purse.


  34. I sometimes write in my books or mark some things I like, like a quote or something! I like looking through my books after some time and read the marked places. it makes me remember why I marked them. I don’t think that writing in books is awful – that makes my books really mine, they are then really personal πŸ™‚ and it’s not like I plan to give them away or something so why don’t write or mark something?


  35. Fille says:

    The thought of breaking the spine makes me cringe! I try to keep my new books looking new as long as possible. However, I sometimes like when a book looks worn, it shows it’s well-loved. πŸ™‚


  36. kkrige says:

    Never would I dog-ear a book! I use receipts, kleenex, cards from my daughters or whatever is handy if a bookmark isn’t about. And a broken spine is a sad thing, though I’ve bought many a book from used book stores and garage sales that sometimes don’t even have covers, let alone intact spines.


  37. lunix1583 says:

    Same here! I love to break the spine of a new book – but I have an enormous collection of bookmarks because I can’t abide folding the pages. My boyfriend hates lending books to me, because he likes to keep them neat – but a good book needs good love!

    I also like to fold the book over, one of the reasons I prefer paperback to soft back (and won’t buy an ereader. You can’t fold ereaders! :p)


  38. fireflyin says:

    I try not to read books anymore. I’m all about the e-book.


  39. I don’t break the spines….I read it once or a couple times then it goes to my bookshelf a.k.a personal library πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  40. lelaj says:

    I treat all my books like a newborn baby. I cannot dog-ear pages, break its spine, or let the edges of the cover fray. My books are my children.


  41. Tessara says:

    I have just recently been comfortable with dog-earing pages (started primarily with textbooks), but I never intentionally break the spine. Unlike a couple other commenters here, I never sell books back. I keep them forever, basically. Occasionally, I lend a book or give it away, and then I will often buy myself a replacement. I don’t tend to write in books, unless it is for school or study.

    (I do, however, write in the bibles I read, because I feel like it’s an important text to engage with, rather than passively consuming. I own multiple translations for this reason–to see how it has been put forth by different people, and engage with the differences between the translations.)


  42. DanaSquare says:

    I only break the spines on mass market paperbacks. I never dog ear. I take care of my finished copies like they are children but arcs I tend to ruin!


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