On the reading of books: customs and compulsions

Recipe for disaster.

  • When I finish a book, I have to wait until the next day to start a new one. I think* it’s important to give myself time to digest the book I’ve just finished – mull it over a little and such. If I finish a book and then want to read something else that same day, I can read short stories, but I can’t start a collection of short fiction from the beginning. I’ve got to pick a piece from the middle of the book.
  • Out of respect, I always use a bookmark instead of dog-earing. But I have no trouble leaving books open face down, writing (or doodling) in margins, using books as coasters, or building tiny forts out of them.**
  • I know a lot of people use them and some people really dig them, but just the idea of having to read from an e-reader causes me anxiety.
  • I love it when people lend me books. But I don’t love getting them as gifts. When I get a book as a gift, I feel way to much pressure to 1) read it a timely manner, 2) like it and 3) be able to say insightful things about it to the person who gave it to me.

  • If I am reading a book for pleasure (not for school***), I never read the forward. This is because I just can’t make myself care what anyone else says concerning what I’m about to read, even if it’s written by another author I like. If a book is cool, it stands on its own, right? Why does someone have to explain its importance to me before I read it?
  • Books I have finished reading and liked go inside the bookshelf. Books I have finished reading and didn’t like go on the floor next to bookshelf. Books I intend to read soon go in a stack on top of the bookshelf. Books I am considering for my thesis list go in a stack on my desk. Books I am currently reading go all over the place. I spend way too much time walking around my apartment looking for where I last set a book down.
  • Sometimes I like to smell my books before I start reading them. Like really stick my face into the pages and smell them. Once, I licked one.****
  • I try to keep my books out of reach of animals. In high school, my dog ate half my copy of The Monkey Wrench Gang. Later that same year, an iguana peed on my biology text book.*****

That’s all I can think of. What are your reading quirks?

*Actually I’m not sure if I personally think this or if I just think I think it because my mom reads this way and when I was a kid, I assumed my mom was the unquestionable expert on anything having to do with books. She reads a lot.

**It saddens me that the Internet has made encyclopedia sets more or less obsolete. Encyclopedias make the best forts.

***Okay, I also don’t read the forwards in books for school. But if someone references a forward in class, I will still totally nod like I know exactly what they are talking about and agree fully with what they have said.

****I don’t remember the title of the book I licked. But I remember the action. Now that I’m thinking about it, I may have bitten down on said book as well. Now that I’m thinking about it, I kind of want to put a book in my mouth right now. This is weird.

*****This is why we can’t have nice things.


  • Melissa says:

    Sweet post, Leyna. I haven’t read anything off an e-reader yet either. I’d like to delay that as long as possible, I think. And I know we’ve already talked about this, but funny thing: I never thought about people feeling pressured like that if you give them books. I only feel that way if people lend me books, because then I’m like, ‘shit shit shit, I’ve gotta read this soon and give it back to them, otherwise I’ll forget it’s theirs and it will be assimilated into my bookshelves and then I’ll be the ass who never returns borrowed books.’ I think I just sort of assumed that if I gave someone a book, they’d add it to their stack and get to it when they felt like it. A lot of times I have to “feel like it” to pick up a certain book, so I wouldn’t care if it took years for someone to read the book I gave them. But now I’ll may take this into consideration when gifting books, whether the person is chill enough to not feel pressure to read/talk about said book immediately.

    • Leyna Krow says:

      Hmmm…I suppose I can see how the pressure to return a lent book might cause more anxiety than the pressure to read a book received as a gift. Mostly though, I hope that anyone reading this post will take note of my wishes and only give me awesome things as gifts, like Playstations and dirt bikes, rather than lame-ass books. This is my top secret motive.

  • Monet says:

    I will dog-ear books, use them as coasters, pick my teeth with them and other unmentionable things (i’ve also bitten a book) but I would get pissed if I saw someone else doing that to a book I loaned them – thus when I borrow books, I wear gloves while reading them.

  • Cathie Smathie says:

    The *** was perfection.
    And I, too, dislike getting books as gifts (Unless I’ve specifically asked for it and pointed it out to the person in the bookstore and watched them purchase it while promising to act surprised later on)

  • Kmac says:

    I can’t read hard cover books with the loose cover on them. And these days I have to make stacks of my important books on top of my tall furniture, such as my refrigerator, otherwise my cat will chew on the books when he’s feeling passive aggressive.

    Also, a) brilliant post yet again and b) the structure of this post kind of resembles a Cathie poem. Just saying. You’re becoming a poet.

  • Constance says:

    I don’t eat books, but I love to cuddle with them

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