Have you ever damaged a book? Dropped it in the bathtub? Spilled a bottle of ink? Used it to mop up spilled wine? Or just broken its back (poor thing).
Ugh, yes! And I hate it because I like my books to be in great condition. Books are sacred. Although if I had the choice, I’d rather the damage be caused by me and not a careless borrower. That way, at least it’s my own damn fault and I don’t have to blacklist someone.
So back in, oh, I don’t know, I guess my preteen years, I used to love to eat oranges as a snack. I actually had bizarrely healthy eating habits for my age until basically I got to college, but anyway, juicy oranges and reading books do not mix. So my first book damages were, like, orange stains on the sides of pages.
One summer in high school, I got into the habit of reading in the bathtub for extensive periods of time, usually in the middle of the afternoon, which was about the time I also woke up. I think my books did manage to come out of that unscathed, but I’m sure they have some slight water damage.
What did not come out unscathed, though, was my copy of Twilight. I read a lot of it poolside one summer, when Nolan and I used to use my grandfather’s country-club membership that he maintains for no good reason, because he live son the other end of the state–and for the record, despite that book being awful and what later went on between Nolan and I, I do remember that summer fondly. I mean, I don’t remember doing a whole hell of a lot that wasn’t reading or lounging by the pool, but hey, that’s a dream summer to me. Only way it gets better is if you swap out the pool for a beach. But the trouble was that I’d lay out, go in the water when I got hot, come back and read or lay out some more. And maybe I should’ve spaced my book and towel farther apart, but being dripping wet isn’t great for books. My copy of Twilight got decently waterlogged that summer.
And by the nature of carrying books in my purse along with all the other junk in my purse, the books that end up in there get pretty battered sometimes. No real damage, just worn, dog-eared covers.
Most recently, water and my purse came together beautifully to the detriment of a book–I’ve accumulated a decent bit of random shit in my purse lately, so it doesn’t always zip closed. When Paul and I were out last week or so buying crickets for his gecko, we got caught in a downpour, and my copy of Lord of the Rings was poking out of my unzipped purse. I could see that the whole top of it got completely wet, but fortunately, the damage wasn’t as bad as it look. Sure, it has some water damage, but it’s actually mostly pretty minor and limited to the tops of the pages that were exposed to the rain. Although it looked like the entire book got submerged in water, I think it’s more likely that just the very top of it got wet and made the damage look far worse than it really was. A true blessing.
Mostly, though, I just wear out spines. May my old copy of Tess of the D’Urberviles rest in piece.
Except I still have it because I can’t just throw it away like some barbarian, you know? And I don’t know if I can just put an old book in with recycling. I’m considering looking into crafty sorts of upcycling things to do with it, but then depending on the project, I might just feel weird knowing that I used a book about a rape for some cutesy craft.
The bookworm struggle is real.