Saturday, September 30, 2017

Keeping place

One might not think there would be much cause for righteous indignation in the world of books and libraries. And though I have written 1,600 essays now trying to disabuse everyone of that notion, I find that my point, again, illustrated 1,600 times, can be easily overlooked under the guise of "Oh, he's just kidding." 

Ha ha ha ha ha. 


But there is one cause for righteous indignation at my library where, when it comes up among my co-workers, I become very quiet and get real busy with my work. I dislike getting real busy with my work where anyone can see me, feeling it too easily sends a message that they've won. So this is a very special case. And it has to do with dog-earing pages.

I do it.

I know, quelle horreur!

I feel the vaguest sort of guilt about it, which mostly means that I constantly collect scads of beautiful bookmarks. But I usually manage to lose those before I can use them to hold my place even a single time. One never knows where one will be when one is suddenly compelled to stop reading, and for me it is so rarely where I was planning. Do I have with me my gorgeously laminated bookmark of an ice skating scene by Bruegel? Do I have one of my La Strega Nocciola gelato witches hat bookmarks that I guiltily took as many as I could bear from my second favorite Gelateria in Rome? Well, no, I don't, and would I want to use one up anyway merely to hold some place in a book? I only have like 12 left! How about I just fold the corner of the page down.

I fold the corner of the page down.

Sure, I am susceptible to the cult of the pristine book, the impeccable, untouched first edition worth ten thousand dollars and never to be sullied by human hands. But I prefer the whole go ahead and have spaghetti while you're reading approach to books. I love books. But working all these years at a library I have learned the strangest thing: love them, yes, but treat them with disrespect. It shows that one knows the magic is in the words.


  1. I too will dog ear a page, when circumstances require it. But I'm always careful to un-dog ear it. Does that lessen the crime at all?

    1. Ha. I consoled myself that undog-earing will obliterate the damage and tested my proposition. It doesn't. The crease remains. But I do undog-ear too of course and at least for me I never notice or am bothered by the old folds of others. Spaghetti stains are a bit harder to tolerate.


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