Sued51's Blog

{February 15, 2013}   A Book Lover’s Care Guide?

Has anyone written such a thing?

The last blog about bookmarks lead me to thinking about book care. I figured bookmarks were created to keep people from folding back the corners of pages (as a tool for book care), but I had no idea of their history until I found this link. Interesting! (I should have used that link in the last blog.)

I then did a search for book care and found most of the information that came up was directed at children and was regarding library books. The exception was this humorous video created by the George Mason University library, which was directed toward college students. Wouldn’t we treat our own books at least as well as we would treat library books?

I guess not. I recently pulled some old poetry anthologies out of my bookcase, and I have a confession to make. Book lover that I am, I found dog-eared pages. Oh, the shame! The anthology was from college, I believe, so I can claim I was just young (like the young people in the video) and didn’t know better…do you buy that? The book was Contemporary American Poetry, edited by A. Poulin, Jr. (2nd edition). The cover is damaged with folds too. (I’m really dating myself here because from what I could find online, this book  is now up to the 8th edition. There was also a 4th edition in my bookshelf that could have been from graduate school.)

Poulin Poetry Anthologies

I could try to defend myself by saying that they are paperback books. Paperback books were created to be more “disposable” versions of hard cover books. They were also more “affordable” versions of hard cover books, although nowadays they are pretty expensive as well. I have saved a lot of my paperback books because it would be pricey and a lot of work to go back and replace them with hard cover versions. I made a big “book care” mistake with my paperbacks though: I had them in a bookcase that got direct sun! So I have…bleached out spines.

So..there’s two book care no-no’s: don’t dog-ear the pages (#5 on the video) and don’t keep them in the sun!

And how many of us can claim we don’t eat while we read (#4 on the video)? I love my tea and toast with a good book. Some of my books have a butter-grease thumbprint or two on a few pages. That can be a reason why some people don’t like to read library books or used books…you don’t know where the book has been! (Anyone remember the “Seinfeld” episode with George taking the book to the bathroom?)

Finally…I come to book covers. Anybody else out there old enough to remember covering your school books with paper bags or other paper book covers? The paper bag ones were wonderful to doodle all over and personalize. Book jackets were originally used to protect the covers of hard cover books and now are pretty much a marketing tool.

How about it book lovers…do you have any “rules” for taking care of your books? Any book care tips to pass on?

{February 8, 2013}   Using Bookmarks

bookmarks, reading, books

Bookmark gifts

As you can see, I’m not talking electronic bookmarks here. I’m talking about those items that you stick between the pages of paper books. I have received many of them over the years as simple gifts, made of so many different materials: metal, paper, cardboard. The photo shows just a few; there are countless others still stuck in books that I abandoned mid-read. My bookshelves are probably full of twice as many.

So you would think I would use them, right? Nope…I’ve recently taken to using scraps of paper as bookmarks. I find myself writing down words I don’t know, or jotting down references and subjects that I want to look up later. The scraps with scribbles go into a small box on my desk for when I have some free time on the computer (which isn’t often, I must admit). I felt like I wasn’t getting enough out of my reading by skipping over words or using the context to guess at their meaning. I felt I was giving up opportunities to learn!

I’m wondering, how many of you still use bookmarks?

Poetry AnthologiesThe weekly photo challenge topic is illumination, but this post isn’t about the photos; it’s about illumination of the mind.

I recently borrowed Harold Bloom’s poetry anthology from my town’s library because someone in a poetry group recommended it. It has been a while since I have been in school, so this was a challenge for me. I love and write poetry, but nowadays I read modern American poets (most of whom are still living). The wonder and beauty of anthologies, of course, is that they expose the reader to a variety of poets and poetic styles, allowing him or her to compare them and choose new favorites — hopefully sending them off on a journey of discovery and learning. In this case, it actually sent me back to my own bookcase!

bookcaseMy office bookcase is chaos and a catch-all. It is also full of what I consider my “necessary” books: anthologies from when I was a student of literature. For the most part, I never read them straight through; I extracted different pieces for papers. Their purpose was to get a broad spectrum view of a time period or some other random criteria (women poets, American poets, etc.). As I read, “Till I End My Song,” I discovered different poems from familiar poets and poems from poets I had never read before. It also contained works by poets whose names sounded familiar to me, but just in a peripheral way; I had never sought out their work. I found a new-for-me (but dead) poet whose work I wanted to read more of: Stevie Smith.

One of her most famous poems is “Not Waving but Drowning”:

Nobody heard him, the dead man,

But still he lay moaning:

I was much further out than you thought

and not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking

and now he’s dead

It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,

They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always

(Still the dead one lay moaning)

I was much too far out all my life

and not waving but drowning.

My interest was more immediate than an Internet or Library search: I went straight to my bookcase and …VOILA! Several of my anthologies contained poems by her. This was step one: after reading those I could decide if I wanted to turn to my library for a deeper look (the answer was “Yes,” BTW). I love being able to do that.

As an editor and reader I have always been in love with books. The day is yet to come when I will turn to a Kindle or a Nook, but I have changed my book buying and retention habits in recent years. I no longer keep novels unless they are first edition or signed, or I absolutely love the book. (Wuthering Heights will always have a place on my bookshelf!) I consider poetry books or short story anthologies necessary books; they can always be revisited at different times and bring different illuminations to a hungry mind.

{December 25, 2011}   A Lovely Christmas Gift

Just before Christmas I received a package in the mail that I wasn’t expecting: it was my copy of The Binnacle with my published poem!  What a special Christmas present for me!

I loved the presentation; it came in a little box. Each poem chosen in the competition was on a card (business-card size) with the author’s bio on one side and their poem/prose on the other. At the bottom of the box I found 9 cards of my own poem (including the one which appeared intermingled with the other work). The box is perfect for me to put on a little table and, every once in a while, pull out a poem to read.  I just may have to enter again in 2012!

{October 14, 2011}   Orphan Books

I saw this story today and had to share it.

Public bookshelves spread across Germany

I don’t know if we could do this in the United States, but I think it is a great idea.  Something makes me think if we did it here we would end up with pages of the books blowing around the streets. 😦

Most of the charities in the US do not want to take books anymore. I use Paperback Swap for most books I don’t want to keep, but if no one wants them, I often end up keeping them simply because I can’t bear to put them in the trash.

Well…I’m glad homeless books are valued somewhere!

{February 21, 2011}   So Many Books, So Little Time…

As a book lover I have stacks of unread books in my house, some given to me, some picked up at yard sales or on sale.  As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I have been using Paperback Swap to get rid of books I have read and don’t want to keep, and swap them for others that I would like to read, but I recently ran out of credits!

So…I looked through my stacks and picked a book that my husband purchased and read years ago by a best-selling author.  It seemed like a good candidate for Paperback Swap:  written by a popular author and not a “keeper.”  Trouble was I wasn’t in the right mood to read it; it didn’t grab me and make me look forward to reading it. It was drudgery.  I spent a couple of weeks getting through just a couple of chapters.

In my younger days, I committed myself to books — once I started one, I tried to finish it no matter how long it took (of course, I would often start another one on the side while I dragged myself through the first one).  That was then, this is now; I’m older, and there are too many books I want to read before my time is up (and more being written every day!).  I want to read a book that cheers me up, makes me laugh, broadens my knowledge, or sparks my creativity.  Taking classes and going through training requires enough “have to” reading right now.  That book is going to Paperback Swap today, even though I haven’t read it; today I start something fun.

et cetera
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