I have just finished reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, and as I was putting it on the shelf and grabbing a new book to start, I noticed I could see the tiny indentations in the pages where I had dog eared them as I was reading it. And then one of my friends posted this blurb on Facebook (with a comment about her always supplying bookmarks when she lends out her books – no points for guessing what side of the argument she falls on!).
Verb – The folding of the page of a book in a triangular fashion to keep one’s place
Noun – A sacrilegious violation and affront to the book and Book Nerd community at large; shame on you
I would call myself a book nerd. Hell, I’m probably all kind of nerd, but I am also a dog ear the page gangster. I dog ear pages with more pride than a 13 year old buying Magnum-sized condoms from the local pharmacy! I own that shit, in other words. And I’m not averse to double-dog earing pages either! Yeah, you read that right. How you like dem apples?
If it is a book I own, you’ll need an iron to return the pages to their regular form. And this is not a sign of disrespect for the written word or the author or publisher. This is my homage to the respect I have. The love I have. The lust I have for those words and the wonder that creativity gives us. Think of it as that playful smack across the ass. Yeah, I went there (somehow).
If I borrow a book from someone, I curtail my better judgment and use a bookmark to keep my place. Oddly enough, this lessons the experience for me. I can’t explain it. Maybe dog earing the pages gives me ownership, makes the whole process seem wholly mine. Using a bookmark is like I’m keeping things in place for someone else. Why do I want to keep their place for them? That’s their responsibility. They’re not keeping my place. And when I lend them one of my books I tell them they can dog ear the shit out of them. I don’t mind. Smack the book around like a red-headed step child.
And as per Yoosh (thought that would look hip for the shortened version of usual), it got me thinking back to a time in creative writing class when this topic of discussion lasted over an hour and nearly came to blows – and not the good blows one would hope for between men and women! Bee Tee Dub, I’m feeling rather innuendoish today. And acronymy as well. And creative. I feel like I should be making up words and slangy acronyms in every sentence.
Our instructor is a published author, of novels, a series of short stories, and a non-fiction book as well. I had a copy of one of the books I was reading in my creative non-fiction class and one of the girls noticed I dog eared a page before I put it down.
“Why do you do that?” She looked at me with the icy glare of a girl who needed a ride more than she needed oxygen (assuming here – cannot be verified).
“Read? Because it broadens my mind, makes me a better writer, and in this case, it’s on the required reading list.” I’m so damn cute when I’m smug.
“Do you have to damage the pages like that?”
“Like this?” I double dog eared the same page. “Yeah, I do.”
Not pleased with my succinct answer, she opened it to the class, “Does anyone else do this?”
What happened next was a bunch of words bandied about between the 12 of us. I don’t remember much of the exact conversation, as many times words were overlapped as normally happens when people are discussing/debating/ramming their own opinions down the throats of others. I do remember that 4 other people in class read their books the right way! F to the Y to the I, my professor said he loves when he sees dog eared copies of his books. He knows that at least one person has read it at least. And if it is in paperback, and the spine is cracked and has more tracks than Amy Winehouse in her heyday, he’s even happier. Much headshaking and one resounding “FUCK YEAH” ensued.
So what is it about a page that has a dog ear on it that incites such passion? Seriously, I don’t understand it. I admire your passion, as a life without passion is a life not worth living; but can’t we find more important things to be this passionate about? Perhaps we should start with why Scarlett Johansson doesn’t read or comment on my blog! Seriously, what is up with that? The dog ear argument seems to bring more fire than a discussion about favorite books/authors/best book of all time debates. And fire is hot. Like Scarlett Johansson. Like Dante’s Inferno (of which my copy has dog eared pages).
Now, I do have a couple of books that are over 130 years old that I do not dog ear. In fact, these books were bought at flea markets and I have bought newer, cheaper versions to read and dog ear. You know, I’m a sadist, not a masochist. Or is it the other way around? All I know is that I had a girlfriend who was into S&M once. She slept and I masturbated! Whoa. I’ll be here all week, folks.
So, as Billy Shakespeare once said, to dog ear or not to dog ear? That is your question, please, enlighten me, provide an answer. And one final request, let’s try and keep it civil. While I don’t approve of your non-dog earing methods, I do respect your right to be wrong.