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twirling pages

discussions

when the phrase “well-loved books” is used, we generally think of our tattered paperbacks or copies that are falling to SHAMBLES. i suppose the interpretation fits because it implies that you’ve read the book over and over and over again, and assumes your love for it is endless. BUT, half of my favorite “well-loved” books are in pristine condition. i would collapse if the pages creased or the spine broke or there was a strain on it. so that got me thinking…

what makes a book “well-loved?”

until recently, all of my books had to be in PERFECT condition. if you wanted to borrow my books, you had to agree to a few terms, as they were rules i gave myself as well. note taking or highlighting was not allowed; if you’re bringing to school or work, you need to hold the book in your arms so the edges don’t get crinkled; the spine can’t break and there can’t be stains of any kind. i loved my books so much, they were basically precious gems. i even forced my friend to buy me another copy of a book when she returned it in alright poor condition. doesn’t this mean i love my books?

well-loved books

but after finding it bothersome to constantly have a separate notebook to take notes, i decided to – wait for it – highlight a sentence in one of my books. i know SO REBELLIOUS. the task made me feel simultaneously guilty and relieved; i felt like i somehow betrayed my book and myself, but it was also as if i’d claimed the book as ~mine~. no one else would highlight the exact same book in the exact same way, and now my book was special… but also, in a way, ruined? it’s no longer in “perfect” condition; it’s used and battered and, in my mind, “not cared for.” if that’d happened a few months or years back, i’d want to throw away my old set of books so i can proceed to buy another identical new set.

after a while, i embraced the small nicks and creases on the edges of the pages. i, myself, was okay with using what books are created for: to be read and LOVED. but then i thought about how there’d be internet trolls who comment on people’s photos saying the photographer is “destroying their books!!!!!!!!” when pages are ripped apart, worn, and used. this hasn’t happened to me personally, but we all know that one troll. it’s rude and wrong to tell a person they’re loving a book wrong, and that’s basically what these trolls are doing. because in the end, it’s your book and you can do whatever you want with it: put it in a glass case, dropping it in the toilet (the horror), dog-earing the pages, WHATEVER.

the phrase “well-loved books” is misleading because, as (super) readers, we all love our books – no matter if we decide to keep them in perfect condition or if we decided to break the spine.

there are still things i’d never ever do to my books – purposely breaking the spine, getting the pages wet, ripping any part of it – but it’s kind of eye-opening to not feel guilty every time i want to highlight a sentence or write in my book. it’s as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulder and ~at last, i seeeeee the liiiiiight~. everyone loves their books differently and that’s what makes each and one of our books special; that’s what’s magical about have a personal library.

how do you treat your well-loved books? let me know in the comments!

Alexandra Ling

alexandra is a twenty-year-old content creator and avid reader. when she's not on the internet or hiding behind pages, you can find her training to be a professional ballet dancer. she finds writing about herself in third-person strange.