To All The Books I’ve Torn Apart (With Love)

Posted By Whitney | 5 comments

There’s something to be said for a bright shiny new book.

I just grabbed my copy of Me Before You for #ReadWithIBC in April, and there’s something fun about opening an un-dogeared book and flipping through pristine pages, and smelling freshly printed pages.

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?


  1. i’m glad i’m not the only one with well-loved books! i have quite a few that have turned yellow, are dog-eared, have writing in the margins and even a couple my dog chewed on that I just canNOT let go!

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  2. My copy of Matilda is missing a cover, the spine is held together by tape, and the pages are warped from trying to read it while in the pool. All of my Madeline L’Engle books have my mom’s handwriting in them by my mom — and then I inherited them and they bounced around in my backpacks and purses for years. A few of the L’Engle books travel with me every place I move.

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    • The signs of love from multiple generations!! I have a few of my grandma’s books that are very well loved.

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  3. I just recently found my original copies of Harriet the Spy and Ballet Shoes…. both are these brilliant abused 70’s versions… I cherish them!

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    • Ooh, I wish I had my old copy of Harriett the Spy!! That was a favorite for sure. I also wrecked my copies of several Nancy Drew mysteries…

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