Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dog-Ear: Cute as a Noun, Not so Much as a Verb

Currently Reading: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

For the sake of clarity:

Dog-Ear the Noun:

Floppy or perked, fluffy or frayed, hanging low or stubby, dog-ears are pretty much lovely as a noun.

We agree kitten. A dog’s ear is wonderful when it’s attached to something so absolutely adorable.

Dog-Ear the Verb:

This image actually makes me involuntarily cringe; just clench my whole body in a desperate attempt to ward off the discomfort of it all. I believe it’s deeply ingrained as my grandmother was a librarian and drilled into my mother who drilled it into me that this was a capital offense in the book world.

I know plenty of people who have no issue with dog-earring a book and to an extent, I get it. It’s a convenient way to save your place in a book especially since it doesn’t require any additional materials like a bookmark or a bookmark substitute.

But really? How hard is it to find any random piece of paper to stick in a book and therefore preserve the integrity of the page? Ransack your purses ladies! Search your wallets for receipts guys! Do what you can do stop the book violence! Because that’s how I view dog-earring: it’s an act of book violence.

Full disclosure, though, I’ll admit that I’m guilty of the occasional act of book violence. My sister can attest to this as I accidentally ripped half the cover off one of her books in elementary school when I put my binder into my desk without checking that its path was clear. I’m not as careful with the way I hold my books open as I should, slightly pulling the bindings apart at the bottom; I make the effort to never crush a book in my purse, but I’m not always successful; and who hasn’t spilled a drink over a book they’re reading on their lunch break?

I once heard or read in an interview that an author actually enjoys seeing abused copies of his books. To him, it was a sign that the book was well loved as the wear and tear only occurs with books that have been read and re-read. He took it as a compliment. It’s embarrassing that I can’t remember any more details about this since it has informed the way I think about my books for most of my life. I have viewed this opinion as a pardon from the book jury on my acts of book violence, believing that the stains and rips on my books are signs of my affection rather than my hatred.

What distinguishes dog-earring in my mind is the deliberateness of the act. Tearing the cover off my sister’s book or spilling my drink was unintentional; I would never have consciously treated a book in such a manner. To dog-ear a book is exactly the opposite. It’s a purposeful action that damages the book irreparably; no matter how hard you try, you will never get rid of the imprint of the fold in the corner. Ever.

For this reason, I hate it.

So if I lend you a book, please don’t ever dog-ear the pages!

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