Forgive me, fellow readers, for I have broken the bookworm law. Multiple times.
We all know that there are unspoken rules on being a bookworm- Don’t even try to deny it. Never break a spine, don’t dogear pages, always carry a book with you, etc., we’ve all judged another reader for how they treat their books at some point in our lives. Fortunately, the trend of gatekeeping reading habits has mostly died down; there’s not a checklist you should fill out in order to be considered a reader. Yet, there still exist some things that are frowned upon in the book community to some degree. And I have committed a small number of those little crimes. I plead guilty.
I plead guilty to having thrown away the dust jackets of some books.
I have mentioned this before in passing, but let me fully explain myself this time. I don’t know about where you live, but in Greece, you can buy newspapers either by just getting the paper or by getting the packaged deal, aka the paper with a couple of extras (magazines, CDs, books, etc.). Before the Internet and the spread of smartphones, my dad used to buy such packaged newspapers every Sunday. Many of our books, CDs, DVDs and cooking magazines were acquired that way.
At some point, a paper came with a collection of classic Greek novels, which had the ugliest dust jackets I’ve ever seen. When I grew old enough to read these novels, they passed to me and while reading them, I discovered that the naked covers were monochromatic, each in a bright colour, much better than their respective dust jackets. Always wanting my shelves to look pretty, I decided on an impulse to throw the jackets away and keep the books naked on my bookcase. I didn’t just remove them and store them somewhere, I threw them in the recycling bin never to be seen again.
Do I regret that action? No, not even a little. And I would do it again if I had to. Life’s too short to spend it looking at hideous dust jackets.
I plead guilty to reading the second book in a series first.
And I still haven’t read the rest of the series.
I’m pretty sure most of us have done this at some point, right? My personal experience involves the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. A couple of years ago I traded some of my books with another reader and one of the books I got in return was Scarlet, the second instalment of the Lunar Chronicles series. I thought that was a sign for me to actually pick up this series I had been putting off for a long time. So, the book sat on my tbr shelf waiting for its predecessor to come home. The plan was to read Cinder first and then continue with this one, as every normal person would do. But, every time I went books shopping I came home with every other book that wasn’t Cinder for some reason.
Fast forward to a few months ago when I had decided to stop buying books before reading the ones I own first. Scarlet was there, on my shelf, staring at me, and I was craving a fantasy book. Coincidentally, Scarlet was the only fantasy book I owned and hadn’t read at that time. So, I picked it up. And I enjoyed it a lot despite not having read the first book yet. To this day, I haven’t read another book in that series and, to be honest, I don’t know if I ever will.
Do I regret that action? No, I don’t think I do. I owned a book and I just read it. It’s not a habit of mine to read series randomly and I don’t intend to make it one.
I plead guilty to having seen the movie before reading the book.
I’ve done this so many times. And sometimes I enjoyed it more. In some cases, I never picked up the book.
At first, it happened by accident; I didn’t know the movie I was watching was based on a book. Now, it’s just a thing that happens, I do it consciously.
Ideally, I’d like to read the book first, before watching the movie. But with the amount of books and movies that come out every year, that’s not realistic for me. I love watching movies, and sometimes putting on a 2-hour movie is easier than picking up a 500-page book. And if the film is good, that just increases my excitement for the book and pushes it up to the top of my tbr.
Do I regret this action? No. I have discovered so many of my favourite books through their respective movie adaptations and I genuinely love cinema.
I plead guilty to having cracked some spines.
Listen. I’m not proud of it. And it’s happened to only a small fraction of my books.
Some books are just too big for my tiny hands to hold open without cracking the spine. I try not to do it, but sometimes it happens. How else am I supposed to hold open a 900-paged book? Plus, the spines of paperbacks published by Greek publishing houses break so easily, it’s hard to not ruin them sometimes. In my defence, though, I’m actively trying not to do that.
Do I regret that action? Yes and no. I mean, of course, I’d prefer it if the spines of my books weren’t cracked, but it was the only for me to hold them open to read them. It’s not something I’m doing on purpose.
I plead guilty to not using the library.
I used the university library excessively during my studies for research, but borrowing books from libraries to read for pleasure isn’t something I do. I don’t even have a library card. And there are two reasons for that.
First of all, libraries in Greece aren’t very promoted. My town’s library, for example, wasn’t updated until very recently; it used to have only old books and it was very small and not very accessible. I haven’t visited it in a long time, but I know now that it has been renovated and it now has a more diverse collection, attracting more visitors. Even our National Library wasn’t that accessible until a few years ago. It used to be more used as a research facility. Recently, however, the lending section of it that’s open to the public moved to a new gorgeous building that anyone can visit any time. I’d like to start visiting it and use the library, but it’s almost two hours away from my house with public transport, not a route I can take often.
The other reason I don’t use libraries is that I like to own every book I read. I love collecting books as much as I love reading them. I enjoy sitting in libraries, but when it comes to picking up books I prefer buying them so I can display them on my bookshelf after reading. In high school, for example, we had a lovely little library. I loved spending time in it and browsing the books and it was my favourite time of the day whenever a teacher decided to move class there. But, I never checked out a single book. I love libraries, I love being inside libraries, but I also love not having to return a book after reading it.
Do I regret that action? Well, I don’t regret it exactly, but I’d like to start using libraries more.
I plead guilty to having ripped a page off a book.
I can hear you all ringing that bell of shame and I understand.
In my defence, it only happend once and I can safely say I’ll never do it again.
A few years back, my parents met one of my favourite singers at the beach and asked him to sign an autograph for me. They obviously didn’t have any other paper with them except for the book my dad was reading at the time, a biography on El Greco that we had got from a newspaper. So, they had him sign on the first blank page of that book. I, then, eager to display the autograph on my room’s wall, carefully ripped that page off and attached it to my poster board. The book wasn’t harmed further and it’s now living happily somewhere in our basement.
Do I regret that action? Not at all. The book wasn’t harmed (except for the missing page) and I got an autograph from one of my favourite artists. What’s there to regret?
I plead gulity to having highlighted a book.
You think that’s evil? Wait till you hear that I only did it on the first page.
Back when I was still learning English, my teacher suggested that I start reading books in my target language. So, my parents brought me to the bookstore and I ventured to the non-translated section for the first time. There I picked up the smallest book I could find in English, the Little Prince. The plan was to start reading it and highlight every unknown word I stumbled upon to look it up later. That lasted for about a page. I soon realised that it was easier to keep my dictionary next to me and immediately look up the meanings of the words I didn’t know. So, now my copy of The Little Prince has a couple of highlighted words in bright yellow on the first page.
Do I regret that action? Yes. I don’t like seeing my books highlighted, it’s one of my pet peeves. But, I can do nothing to fix it, so I have to live with it.
Whew! That took a weight off my chest. Before you start planning my public shaming, please remember: “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”.
This post is made humorously. Obviously, everyone is allowed to have their own reading habits. There is no requirement for being part of the book community other than loving books!
What do you think the verdict should be on my “crimes”? Have you done such things yourselves?