Scot McKnight has posted On Marking Books just to remind us how he can make the quirkiest thing into an interesting blog post. I’ve realized over the years that I’ve developed a few book quirks of my own.
I don’t tend to re-use bookmarks, but often find some scrap of paper that bears reference to the time and place in which I started reading the book. If I start a new book on an airplane, the bookmark might be my boarding pass. If I saw a movie that day, it might be the ticket stub from the movie. It could be almost anything, and when I’m finished the book I tend to leave that bookmark in the book.
Only rarely do I make notes in or underline in a book — I might make notes on a “Post-It Note” with the page number plus my notations, or just flag the page with the post-it. The post-it might also move through the book as I read and finish in the front or back of the book with my set of notes, quotes, and notations on it, with page references. Sometimes these reading notes go on a loose piece of paper which may mark my place in the book’s end notes as I read so I can easily flip back and forth between my spot in the book and the notes that correspond.
If I lend out a book, I remove my notes and my bookmark, then replace them in the book before re-shelving it upon its return to me. I would keep those items with the dust jacket, which I also wouldn’t lend out. I used to literally have people sign out books like a library and enter them into my database, but I’ve lightened up considerably. My books are all stamped with my name on the edge of the pages on the top of the book as well as inside on the flyleaf, where I use a stamp that has a picture of some books and scrolls and a quill pen, with the words below it, “Three things: old friends, old wine, old books.” Plus my name, of course. An un-stamped book cannot be loaned. The few books I have in which I’ve made notes right on the pages are, like an autographed copy, generally not loaned out.
I’ve made sure my kids learn how to properly open a book for the first time (children should be taught respect for books as well as love for them), and will do so myself to protect the spine before reading it (yes, even a paperback novel), or before lending if I loan it before I’ve read it.
I know people who write the dates in pencil inside the cover when they purchase a book and/or when they read it. It makes a lot of sense and I don’t really know why I don’t do it.
I think some of my friends would rather buy their own copy of a book I recommend just to avoid borrowing it from someone so unreasonably particular as me, and I secretly consider this a good thing; those who do borrow my books for the most part already know how particular I am and seem okay with it on some level. Yes, I know I somewhat exhibit a touch of OCD about the whole thing. Okay, maybe more than a touch. But no, I don’t want to change.