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Broken Spines and Folded Pages

To bookmark or crease? 

When I was ten years old, my Year Five teacher told me to never 'dog-ear' the pages of my books. I'd had to ask what it meant — and was informed it was the very thing I'd done just moments before. 

I'm fairly certain it was a Rick Riordan novel. 

I was sure Rick would forgive the folded triangle in the corner of my copy of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, but, Mrs Taylor seemed disinclined to agree. 

I was told to keep the pages pristine by using a bookmark. In order to keep the spine unaffected from those little creases that run from base to tip, I should avoid opening my book to its full capacity, or, sit and gently open the leaves one by one until my bored fingers met somewhere in the middle. 

Never use your tomes as coasters and don't, under any circumstances, curl the pages backwards so that you can read one-handed in the bath. 

In fact, reading in the bath is banned. Reading anywhere but at a desk should now be regarded as risky business. 

You've been warned.  

For years, I tried to do as I was told. In fact, I started a bookmark collection. The problem was, I never remembered to grab one and would usually use scrap bits of paper, instead. I loved my books and for all I knew, I was treating them as they should be treated. 

It wasn't until I got a little older that I began to slip. 

It started slowly. Just a water-bottle balanced atop a closed book on the over-crowded desk. Next, it was a steaming mug of tea. 

Little by little, the standards I had set for myself began to wane. I was no longer peeking at a narrowly opened page but instead grabbing books and pulling them taut the moment I acquired them as my own. I became the librarian's worst nightmare. 

At fifteen, reading in the bath became the new taboo way for me to rebel. Scandalous, right? 

That's how I received my first book casualty. 

I'd been successfully keeping my books aloft and above water for a couple of months when the incident occurred. It happened quickly. One moment the book was in my hand and the next ― well, I heard the splash and immediately knew I'd messed up. 

Water-logged books can often be saved. Leave them be in an airing cupboard for a couple of days and the words will still be legible. However, my copy of Memoirs of a Geisha was never the same after that. 

I back-peddled. I became more careful. I even tried out using a kindle. But, it wasn't the same. 

That's when I had my revelation. Mrs Taylor was wrong. It shouldn't matter if the spine of my paperback has little creases running down it. Surely that just shows that I've actually bothered to read it? 

Dog-earing pages became a game. I find it fun to see where I had last left off reading a book when coming to re-read (because, in typical reader fashion, I often opt to ignore my new purchases for old favourites so my TBR never goes down). 

I learnt more about myself this way, too ― turns out, it doesn't matter how old I am, I still find the same parts of stories a little duller and close the page in the same spot. Go figure.

I think this is part of what made me want to write. By understanding what I like to read, and understanding the patterns of what I didn't enjoy as much, my own creativity was sparked. 

I like knowing that my books aren't "perfect". Seeing old tea stains on a couple of pages doesn't decrease their value to me but, actually adds personality. A little bit of history. 

It's definitely not for everyone, but I don't like to split hairs over broken spines.