There’s something to be said for a bright shiny new book.
Half the fun of getting a new book is attempting to keep it wrinkle free – and then bailing when you’re halfway through and just cant help bending the cover back because you’re reading in the bath and dammit you need that second hand free.
The sign of a truly loved book is just how worn and distressed it is.
The signs of reading and re-reading and sharing and loving and falling asleep next to all show on those most-loved books.
While staying with my mom for a few weeks recently, I came across some of the first books I remember truly loving. Digging through a box that had been untouched for at least three years, I found my much loved copy of Martha, Daughter of Virginia, The Mists of Avalon, The Shell Seekers and a whole slew of other books that I had half forgotten.
These are books that are so well loved that they have covers missing and duct tape in the place where their spines used to be.
That poor copy of The Mists of Avalon though…
My mom said the copy was originally borrowed from a friend. Hard to return a book that is missing the cover and at least three intro pages.
I remember when the cover fell off. It was just hanging on by a thread when it ripped. I was holding it in the dangerous overhead reading position when the cover tore away from the rest of the heavy tome. Pretty sure I got smacked in the face.
The Mists of Avalon is one of the first grown up books I read. I remember getting completely lost in the familiar story of Arthurian legend. It was magical and theatrical and romantic and just plain special.
It’s not quite as bad as The Shell Seekers though!
I must have read The Shell Seekers a hundred times – at 650 pages it was a good deal shorter than Avalon, which rang in at almost 900.
It was one of my favorites for a long time – a bit reminiscent of the more recent The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – it follows Penelope Keeling who is sitting out World War II with her parents in Porthkerris. There are hints of romance and family history and engagingly flawed characters. Quite the love.
My poor copy is completely missing the spine, held together with duct tape. And the first fifty or so pages aren’t even attached at all! They’re just sitting inside the front cover, waiting to be accidentally misplaced.
These well loved books will be copies I continue to hang on to – even if I pick up a copy of The Shell Seekers for my Kindle for a re-read this summer.
Am I alone here? Do you books show the love you’ve given them? Or are you a better caretaker than I am?