Thursday, July 06, 2006

The care and feeding of books

Being a constant reader, I'm careful with my books. I don't dogear pages. I don't use books as coasters. I don't underline, but I will add a sticky note if something really gets to me. I dust my books, carefully wipe down jacket covers and keep them clean. There are two types of books though which can't abide with these rules.

Cookbooks are meant to be abused. If a cookbook isn't splattered and stained and if it doesn't have pages wrinkled by spills, I have to wonder if it's any good. I don't care if it's photographed as beautifully as any coffee table book and printed on the heaviest, most luxurious paper in the world. If a cookbook doesn't show signs of real life use in the kitchen, it's failed in its purpose. A well worn cookbook tells stories about the people who use it. Are they practical or showy? Is this a life of comfort or disciplined, structured care? Are they risk takers or do they prefer the familiar? Or are the books just there for the show?

The other book, at least for this Christian, is a Bible. The other day, as I was cleaning off my dresser, one of my Bibles literally fell in half in my hands. It's curved spine finally decided to call it quits in the middle of I Corinthians. It was a paperback NIV whose small size made it easy to carry but whose print is no longer suitable for my presbyopic eyes. I found a large rubber band to hold it together and placed it on the back row of a book shelf. Honestly, what can you do with a worn out Bible? It's there with the little New Testaments that were childhood gifts and my first real KJV Bible with my name embossed in gold on a red leather cover. I received that one after my baptism at the age of eight. My current favorite Bible is a hardback, NRSV New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. It still has a long way to go before it's well broken in.

I'd like to think that the use of a Bible shows something about the person as well. Does it open easily to books of law or books of grace? Does a heavily scored Book of Revelations indicate a person living in fear or someone who likes to interpret symbolism or solve puzzles? Does the reader prefer the Psalmist's joy, the rich king's wisdom or the woes of Job? I look at my own old, ripped in twain Bible. I see the underlining, the highlighting, the margin notes, and all I can see that it shows is I tried to understand. Like with a cookbook though, the proof's in the pudding, and my meal just isn't done yet.


Blogger Robbie said...

Years ago I attended a Church that encouraged you to mark up your Bible. After many years of training in school, not to mark in books, it was a difficult skill to learn. But, I learned it well. I write in everything now and love it. I treat each book like its a personal journal of sorts. I have a stack of journals and notes but you'll find details of my life spread throughout everything I own. If I don't write in a book, it means I don't intend to keep it.

July 06, 2006 8:01 AM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

My book habits are the same as robbie's. The more I love a book, the more I mark it up.

July 06, 2006 1:03 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I treat my books like I treat my cars. I was never one to park a new car out in the boonies of the parking lot, or in the middle of four spaces, in order not to have it dinged or marked up. A car is a vehicle. It gets me from here to there. A book does the very same thing. My best-loved books look like crap.

July 07, 2006 12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very pretty design! Keep up the good work. Thanks.

July 21, 2006 6:54 PM  

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