Books ARE sacred. But they are sacred in the old ways. They are like the personal gods who lived with you. Who kept our fires lit. Who sang us birdsong. Who walked beside us. Who marked a path through dark woods.
We revere them and sacrifice for them. They become a part of who we are. But more importantly we live our lives with them.
Pristine and untouched books are the saddest idea. An aesthetic that’s as grotesque as prominently displaying random colorful dead birds.
Books are some part of another person’s life. A dream they conceived into reality. A dream we do a disservice by holding the intention of pretty shelves to show cultured we are.
A book should be well loved. Cared for. But at the end of the day they must also be read. And lived with.
There is an eternal debate in book circles not unlike the one in programming circles.
In programming circles, it’s tabs vs spaces. And believe me when I say that this debate can lose you friends and colleagues.
In book circles, it’s bookmarks vs dog ear. And it occupies the same emotional space as tabs vs spaces.
I’m sure every passion has at least one such debate/war.
I tried to use bookmarks. I love a good bookmark. It has color and artistry. And when a book has a book ribbon, I will use that.
But, the majority of my books are dog eared. I could say that I have cats and to cats a bookmark is a lovely toy to grab in your teeth and go tearing down the hall with. While that’s true, it’s not the whole story.
It’s convenient. And I keep my books and reread them. I live with my books and can’t imagine a room that’s complete without a wall length shelve system covered in books. When I reread a book, I will find myself stopping at the same pages I did the first time. I’ll have a burst of tactile memories of why I stopped there and what I was feeling.
And how can that not be beautiful. Bookmarks can only ever say this is who I was when I bought it. It can never mark the journey of a life. It can’t keep me on the path through the woods. It can’t live with me and tell my journey to those who come after me.