First, let me tell you a secret.
I break the spine of books.
I dog ear the pages.
I like it when the cover rips.
I love it when the pages yellow.
I doodle inside the covers.
And I do all this on purpose.
Because it gives the book some character, and I like to come across well-loved books brimming with zest, and vitality, creasing running like deep battlescars across the cover. When I come across those little imperfections again, its like a fossil from when I first read it, chronicling my early relationship with this book. That stain is from where I spit out milk over an outrageous character death. The spine is cracked from where I jumped on it, fueled by geeky rage and a thirst for revenge. That soot stain is from where I torched the book in nerdy exasperation.
It gives the book vitality, something unique, something else that no other book can compete with. The book with the fraying edges, yellow pages, cover discolouration, wrinkles, cracks and tears could be one of the books you hold dearest to your heart. It suggests something worthwhile has occurred, it shows I met this book, and I left my mark on it. I would prefer stacks and stacks of used books, with deep wrinkles in the cover, yellow pages, and torn corners, from where I was flicking through too fast for neatness to keep up, to shelf upon shelf of pristine white paperbacks (all with bookmarks slid inside) I will never be like Elinor Folchart from Inkheart, keeping books imprisoned in glass cases, the words suffocating from lack of readership. When I am no longer asphyxiated by the requirement of keeping books in line, I will be living in a house quivering with books, piles in every cranny, stacks in every nook. I might have to climb over them, to reach something vital, like a toilet. I prefer to read outside sometimes, often somewhere precarious like up a tree. Couple this with my freakishly exaggerated clumsiness and general disregard for book safety (sometimes I just get too absorbed in the story!) I will probably drop each book at least three times. Sometimes on purpose, if I can’t manage to stifle my outright hatred for a bad book. So my favourites have grass stains. Yellow pages. Cracked spines. Dog-ears. Battle scars from the inevitable war that ensues with as passionate a reader as I. In fact, I’m surprised I’m still allowed at the library.
I have a valid excuse for all procrastination, ever.
I keep reading until I hit a nice, round page number.
Numbers such as: 150, 350, 200, 333, 888, 101, 123 etc are acceptable. I avoid 872, 142, 164, 431 and numbers of a similar family like anthrax. Or something.
How does this relate to procrastination? Let me paint you a vivid mental picture: a frantic Lydia is thumbing through the pages of, say, The Princess Bride. She stops on page 365 (an appropriate end point because it correlates with the number of days in a year, evidently a perfectly acceptable, round number) which happens to finish with a cliff hanger. Lydia continues to read, faster now, til page 375. This is one page before a new chapter (a spectacularly inappropriate time to finish) so she reads on. This makes the start of a new chapter page 376, a disgustingly messy page number, which certainly won’t do for as obsessive a book worm as Lydia. Now she has come to 400; more cliffhangers. And this process continues, until, inexplicably, she has read 100 pages. Thus the perfect window of time in which to do her homework has closed, leaving Lydia in a slight pickle. At least she got some good reading out of said pickle.
Every time I go to the library, I stack up my science fiction, my fantasy, the odd classic. I have, perhaps 13 or 14. Then I go to the childrens section, and pick up a meagrely plotted, usually Jacqueline Wilson, book. Generally these are realistic fiction. Or, maybe its a comic book, or graphic novel (I quite enjoy the Babysitters Club) I will read this book on the car ride home, possibly biting into 20 minutes of time when I get back, if it happens to be a novel. Sometimes I don’t even like the book, I just feel obliged to reading it. These books feel like… the polite small-talk before one pours all their energy into a heavy discussion at a meeting, or other official event. Today, for example, I read Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson, before starting the Portrait of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde.
I check how many pages in a book, so I can calculate what fraction through I am. Peculiar? …yes. This is why I like reading on an eReader as well, because it does this for me! When I’m close to the end, I sandwich my finger between the last page and the author acknowledgments. That particular habit is purely because I like the feeling of cool paper on my fingers.
I read the first 50 pages before I decide whether or not I keep reading. I finish, perhaps 30% of the books I start. If they annoy me, I put them down, thus I have piles of slightly read books glaring at me wherever I walk. Then I am faced with the dilemma of putting it on GoodReads, especially if I got further through: currently reading? read? want-to-read? I am not a stalwart reader; I will quickly move on to bigger, better things. Generally, however, I will come back.
If a book suffers a severe anticlimax, I will not read the last 10 or so pages. When you go from fighting territorial dragons and having shoot-outs with enemy detectives to sitting reflecting, often poignantly, I will put the book down. Sure, I scan those left out pages in case they get thrown back into the action, or I will keep reading if its a favourite. I feel bad for this.
I manage to amass books from all and sundry, which is a surprisingly traumatic habit. When I go to school, it is inescapable; there are books from the school library, the bookshop near school, the teacher’s library, friends recommendations, the public library after school. I feel guilty; so many unheard voices! so many un-experienced worlds! so many lonely characters! This is a source of inevitable stress in my young life.
– I take at least ten books on holiday, even if its for a night or two.
– When people ask what book I’m reading, I either launch into a verbal essay of every character, plot-twist, description, magical law, or I just grunt and lift the book up. There is no in between.
– If I am at the bookshop, I pile up every book that sounds remotely interesting, then eliminate them as I see fit. I end up with one. Sometimes, I just flick to a random sentence and read it. No resonation, no buy.
– I smell books! Who doesn’t?
– I run my fingers over books in stores/libraries. So glossy.
– I have a shelf for library books, purely to stop me losing them quite so easily.
What are your odd (and sometimes unexplained) book quirks? Tell me in the comments section below!