Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Reader's Quirk

When I was in high school, I had required summer reading for an English class and I had to read Madame Bovary. Sadly, I have no recollection of this novel but I do remember some circumstances regarding how I obtained the book.

A friend offered to loan it to me, as well as some others on my extensive list, because her brother had read them for the same class the year prior. I went to her house and watched as he carefully plucked them from his tall bookshelves. He said he was happy to give them to me but that there were rules. I could not crease the pages. I could not write anywhere in it. And it would be preferable if I did not bend the book at all. I took a look at the books and wondered if they were completely new.

"Did you read these?" I asked. He was appalled at the suggestion that he hadn't finished his required reading. And my friend, his sister, rolled her eyes and said, "He barely opens them when he reads so that the pages or the cover don't bend, even a little." Considering that I prefer reading used books that are coffee stained, stepped on, with bugs squashed in 'em, I found this rather interesting. I respected his wishes and read the books as he would have, barely opening the book and certainly not turning back the covers so that you didn't even see a fold in the paperback when I was done.

Earlier this week, my dear friend Rebecca (who is actually Becky and one of the most dedicated readers of this blog so I feel I should give her a shout-out) told me that she had borrowed a book from the library in which a previous reader had gone through the entire book, corrected grammatical errors in pencil and re-phrased some sentences that he thought sounded better a different way. How strange, I thought. To edit a book while you read?

I remembered my friend's brother and thought of my own quirks. I HATE stopping in the middle of a chapter and I practically twitch if I have to leave a book in such a state. Perhaps I have reading quirks of my own.

What's your reader's quirk?


  1. When reading hardcovers, I tend to take off the cover before reading, but I'm not quite sure this qualifies as my reader's quirk. :)

  2. i have seen edits in books i've checked out from the library too- SO annoying.

    i do pretty much all of my reading the in the tub at night so i have the bad habit of fattening up all the pages with water stains.

    also, i usually don't write in books- however, i read "the artist's way" with a group of people and wrote all sorts of personal stuff in it. i realized just a few months ago that i had sold it to 1/2 priced books, accidentally. yuck. it felt bad for me, plus i pity the person who bought it!

    and NO!! it's not too late for you to learn to play the guitar! :) all you have to do is WANT to! :)

  3. Hmm. I just read and read, but I agree with you about hating to stop in the middle of a chapter. Recently, I inherited a Kindle from someone who upgraded to the I-pad. It surprised me to find out how much I enjoyed reading on that; plus, there was the instant gratification of being able to order and download a book in minutes.