What kind of reader are you? Assuming of course you're a reader at all, which I desperately hope you are. Are you "read one and move on" kind of person, or perhaps more like myself, what I like to call a "book slut"? Are you a crumpler? A shove-in-bag-fold-over-pages-bend-back-spine reader? Or a "you break the spine of my book, and I'll break your spine" reader? Or even perhaps a member of the new breed of e-readers?
I'm between species, I guess. To me, there's no greater sight than a really battered old book. Pages fallen out and taped backed in, undecipherable scribblings in the margins or even a list at the back of words to look up the meaning of (mine are always shamefully long). A spine cracked back so many times you can barely read the title. You know, well loved. To see or own a book like that is a beautiful thing. Considering this is my reaction to one used book you can imagine how I feel in a second hand book store.
I often buy second hand books, for many reasons. It keeps the bookstores in business and there's no better way to spend an afternoon (or an entire day) than perusing dusty bookshelves lined with classics and beautiful editions. Oh, and it's cheap. But I can't resist the call of online retailers (cough, amazon, cough) promising cheaper copies, more variety, sent to your door at the click of a button. And believe me, I've indulged in more than a little late night online book-buying. And shamefully have answered the door to be showered with packages containing books I don't remember ordering (I should note that this really is only bad for my bank balance, because you can never have too many books).
And it's these new books I have a rather peculiar relationship with. I want to read them. All at once, instantly, if that were possible (here are my book sluttish tendencies rearing their head), but I suddenly become one of those people I, through lack of a less harsh word, hate. I go to crack open the spine, to fold the pages, to throw the book in my bag, but feel wrong doing so. With second hand books, it's fine, all the battering has been done for you. But with new books, part of me wants to keep them pristine, and shining, lined up neatly on the shelf. Even as I type I have a stack of new books next to me just waiting to be read. To be chucked about, to be cracked open, flipped through. To be loved.
But I thought I'd hold off on cracking the spine to write this instead.