Confession: I Dog Ear Books

Oh, book art. What would I do without you?

Oh, book art. What would I do without you?

I dog ear the pages of books. I do it to save my place or to mark a favorite section. I also have about a million bookmarks, store-bought, friend-made, receipts from foreign countries, train tickets, cool pieces of paper or ribbon, and anything else that can conceivably be used as a bookmark. But sometimes I dog ear instead, because sometimes that’s what feels right.

I write in the margins. Marginalia is one of my favorite words. Isn’t it beautiful? I bracket my favorite passages and underline beautiful sentences. I draw hearts and sad faces. I often wish I could keymash. Sometimes “asglkhasgl;akhsglaks” says more than real words can.

I bend paperbacks when I’m reading. I leave them open page-down on a table when I get up for a moment. I don’t see it as breaking their spines. I see it as breaking them in, like shoes you’re going to rely on for years, shoes that will take you places. I relish the long white lines on the spines of well-read books.

And you know what? I feel no shame.

All the time, I see people talk about how horrifying it is to do such a thing to a book. They could never do that! It’s disrespectful or hurtful. And that’s fine. If your method of showing love to a book is to keep it pristine, I respect that.

But I believe that books should be interacted with. I love going back to a book and seeing all the little things left behind by me or another reader entirely. What did that last reader (even past me) love and hate? What did they have to say? Where did they stop reading? Which page corners were so often folded that they’re almost coming off?

It’s a journey, just like the story. Well-read and well-marked books are one of my favorite things. I would like it it other book-lovers would stop acting like dog-earing pages makes me some heathen. I’m an avid reader, just like you. I just read a little differently.

Note: This post was originally posted on my Tumblr, but this topic has been on my mind and I decided to edit it and post it here.

And now a quick writing check-in. From 1/23 to 1/29 I wrote 5090 words, with two zero days. Both stats are way better than last week. Let’s hope that’s not a fluke.

Roller Derby and Body Positivity

roller derbyFor a long time, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to really live because I’m fat. I kept thinking, “Oh, when I’m skinny, I’ll…” It was all in the future with this mythical tiny body. I believed that being fat meant that there was very little I could do. I thought it held me back.

If you’re ever feeling like that, go to a roller derby bout. Seriously.

I went to my first bout on Saturday night. It was a home game for the Naptown Roller Girls. There’s a whole lot that’s awesome about roller derby, and I’m pretty sure it might become a sport that I actually follow. It’s a sport dominated by women and, even better, these women come in all shapes and sizes. They run all across from short to tall, skinny to fat. If you can skate, you can be a derby girl, and each body type comes with its own advantages. Little girls can slip around the other skaters. Big girls can easily block the opposing team or slam through the pack.

Watching the bout made me feel kind of amazing. I don’t know if I could personally ever do roller derby because I bruise easily and don’t always have the best balance, but neither of those have to do with my weight. If I wanted to ignore the bruising and learn to skate, I could be a derby girl and my weight wouldn’t be holding me back. It would even give me advantages that the skinnier girls wouldn’t have – just like they’d have advantages over me.

If you struggle with body image issues, go to a bout. If you aren’t sure what this whole body positivity thing is about, go to a bout. See those women of all sizes working as a team and kicking ass, and you’ll start to feel a lot better and find a great understanding of body positivity.

The Trials and Tribulations of Owning a Kindle

You might have noticed that part of Tuesday Reads is telling you whether I read the book in a physical copy or on a Kindle (there are other options, but those are the two I use). That might seem silly and needless, but I do have a reason for it.

I own a second-generation Kindle. I’ve had it for years. It’s been replaced twice, covered in stickers, and it’s not quite as shiny white as it once was. It currently contains 216 books. Its name is Hermione Danger. It often spends most of the school year in a drawer while I’m consumed by novels for school (I almost always buy those in a physical copy, because it’s easier for me to stay on track with my teacher and classmates), but months will go by where it barely leaves my side.

But there are days when I hate taking it out in public. Almost every time I read it before class or in the student center or outside, someone asks me, “Is that a Kindle?” I’m always hopeful at first, and I get excited. I love my Kindle. I love to talk about my Kindle. So I say yes, and I show them how easy it is to use, how many books it has, how I can send Word documents and PDFs to it (great for critiquing stories), and I talk about how great Kindle support has been over the years. Every once in a blue moon, the conversation will end with something like, “Maybe I should look into getting one.”

More often than not, it ends in, “Oh, that’s cool, but I could never get one. I love books too much.”

Excuse me?

Is it wrong of me to take away from that the implication that I don’t love books? That somehow the fact that I own a Kindle means that books don’t matter to me? I know that the other person in that conversation hasn’t seen my bookcases, where books are stacked on books in an attempt to squeeze them all in. They don’t know that I can’t go into a bookstore without spending all of my money on new books, or that donating 500 books in high school barely dented my library.

But why should that matter? They haven’t seen my personal library, but why should they have had to? Why does Kindle owner equal book hater in so many minds?

There are stories where the medium matters. I couldn’t read graphic novels on my black and white second-gen Kindle. If the picture quality was comparable to that of a printed graphic novel and the interface easy to navigate, I’d have no problem reading them digitally. There are stories where interaction with the book itself is an important part of experiencing the story – for example, Theodora GossThe Thorn and the Blossom is uniquely bound accordion style. Open the book from one side, and you read the story of Evelyn. Flip it over and open it on the other side, and you read Brendan’s story. In the case of that book, I suggest you read it in the physical copy.

Most of the novels we read, though, ultimately don’t need to be read in a physical form. Yes, I agree that the feel of a book in your hands and being able to flip through the pages and doggy-ear and make notes and bend back the spine (which plenty of people would scream at me for, but I love) is a beautiful thing.

But shouldn’t the story matter more? If the story is the same from paperback to Kindle, doesn’t it matter more that we’re reading the story than if we’re reading it on paper or a screen?

I know that contradicts my idea of telling whether I’m reading a book in physical or digital form. That’s related to another peeve of mine in this whole ridiculous debate. People seem to think that if I have a Kindle, I don’t read physical books, or if you read physical books, then you wouldn’t ever have an e-reader. It’s true that there are people who only use e-readers and people who only read physical books, and that’s entirely their choice. I’m not here to insult them. What bothers me is that there are an awful lot of people who can’t seem to grasp the idea that someone might like both. That’s why I’m going to tell you what medium I’m reading a story on. It’s entirely possible to use and love multiple reading mediums, and I’d like to prove it.

What about you? Are you a Kindle owner who faces snide remarks from your fellow book lovers? Are you a book lover who just can’t abide by e-readers? Or, like me, do you stand somewhere in-between?