DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Jan 25 2013

Book Pet Peeves

by Jimmy L

notes in the margin of a bookThe other day I was talking to some friends about how we treat our books. Turns out, everybody had a different set of rules on the matter. One person was against putting an open book face down on a surface to mark a page, something that I often do, especially when I just have to leave the room for a quick second. Another was against making notes or marks inside of a book. (We’re talking about personal books, of course—library books should never be marked in.)

In general, I am quite laid back about my books. Some of the things I’ll do to my books would make any librarian cringe. I love underlining (usually with a pencil) and taking notes in the margins. Even coffee stains don’t bother me, and often give a book that “lived-in” quality for me. That is also one of the reasons I almost always prefer ratty paperbacks over pristine hardcover editions—its bendability gives it a cozy feel. I find it hard to curl up in bed with a big honking hardcover with all those edges jabbing at me.

That said, I do have my limits as well. I don’t like dog-earing pages, and while I’ll make liberal marks in a book, I cringe at marks made with a pen or highlighter (reminds me too much of college textbooks). Do you have any book pet peeves? Do you keep your books in pristine condition, or do you prefer a much-loved book with creases on the spine? Please share in the comments section.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica W January 25, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Most of my reading matter is not “heavy” enough to warrant deep thought and notations. I do mark up my bible and other theology books (only my own!) but never fiction. One of my greatest pet peeves is reading a book with spelling or grammar errors underlined and the corrections penciled in the margins. If all the folks who handled it before it was published didn’t catch it, then what’s the point? Mr./Ms. Average Reader will mentally correct it or not, but their concentration will not be distrubed by unsightly markings.

David January 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

I’m persnickety about dust jackets, especially if I paid more than a few dollars for the book. I tend to slip off the jacket and place it somewhere in the house (like on a high shelf) until I’ve finished reading the book. I also hate it if I buy a book at full price from an online retailer and it arrives with crumples or chips — not serious enough to justify returning it, just annoying.

Ev January 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Bending the cover back so you can read with one hand. This breaks the spin and drives me crazy.

Jencey Gortney January 25, 2013 at 12:30 PM

I have some book pet peeves. I prefer paperbacks or ebooks to hardback books. I find that paperbacks are easier to tote than a hardback. I also like to get nice copies and if I can get a copy that is used then that would be preferable. I will take the ratty paperback or old hardback if that is the only option. I do not write in my books unless it is something that I am studying for school or if I am working on a bible study.

One pet peeve on the book repair side. I wish that people who mark in library books could watch how long it takes to repair the book they have marked up.

D in Brookhaven January 27, 2013 at 8:56 PM

I read my books in the bathtub! Yes, some get waterstained, but that’s ok with me!

Carmen January 28, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Whether it hard copy or electronic I highlight, make notes and underline passages all the time. I underline and write the meaning of words I’m not sure the definition of or words I’ve never seen used that way before. This tickles my friends who read the book after I do because they like to see they have a broader vocabulary than me or on occasion find out they didn’t really know the meaning of a word either. Books are important to me and I “live” with them and even occasionally “upcycle” them into what some might consider art. Pristine books belong in the library or the booksellers’ shelves but not in my life.

Greg January 30, 2013 at 11:38 AM

I have always been a bit obsessive about all of my books. I have many paperbacks, purchased back in the seventies, that still look virtually new despite repeated readings. This trait makes me a queasy lender of books. It’s hard to trust even my best friends to care for a book to the extent that I do. I don’t read them around water and I don’t mark in them. As for hard covers, I have my own Demco account and a supply of clear plastic cover protectors to keep the dust jackets pristine. I may be overcompensating for the damage I see inflicted on library books!

Hope February 28, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Since I have been a book collector for some time, my pet peeves include: people who have written their names (or anything else) in a book, unless it is signed by the author, natch!; library stamps (sorry! it makes a collectible almost worthless); people who have taken the dustjackets off of hardbacks; any kinds of food or drink stains. That being said, for pure reading enjoyment, I prefer a good paperback for ease in handling, especially in bed.

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