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How Do You Read Your Book?

I’ve known people who scribble notes on a book while reading it, making comments about what they liked, what they did not, underlining bits they really wish to remember and so on. And this is not merely academic reading I’m talking about, but also reading plain fiction.

And then there are those at the other end of the spectrum, covering their books in jackets and paper covers before reading them, even opening them at a 35 degree angle, so the spine won’t get affected and the book will stay as new. You look at the bookshelves of such people and it will give you the (often totally false) impression that they keep their books more for show and less for reading.

Personally, I never scribble on books. I do make an occasional mind-map on a notebook to make sure I’m with the plot in a particularly complicated book, but that’s about it. I open them as wide as required (often wider), and am known to stain them with tea etc. or even (accidentally) sit on them. (The exceptions are the books I borrow, which I cover up in paper immediately, and do not read while eating or drinking.)

You will find books everywhere in my apartment: on the sofa, above the sink, on the kitchen table, heaps of them by the bedside…..sometimes I feel I have more books outside my bookshelves than on them. (The only exception to these are the books I borrow, which I’m maniacally inclined to return in just the condition I received them. I also get very upset if books I lent out are given back mutilated or not returned at all.) I read whenever I can, wherever I can, while waiting for pasta to boil, or for the dishwasher to open, or the doctor to ask me in for check-ups, or while sitting beside the husband as he drives… can be nerve-wracking for those around me.

So, how and where do you read your books? Are you a careful book preserver, or a furious scribbler of notes? Do you sit at a table or lounge in bed?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Zeti says:

    I allocate time to read, meaning I don't read while I'm cooking or while sitting on my throne in the bathroom, but I do read while waiting for the dr, etc.
    My books aren't in pristine condition but are relatively free from stains and spinal damage. I don't, as a rule, borrow books because I have serious ownership issues.
    I'm actually ok about friends not returning my book(s) because I never lend out unless if I'm willing to part with it.
    When I lose interest in a book, I'm not bothered if I don't finish it, so what I do is : give it away to a friend who might enjoy it better or a charity.
    I catalogue my books and my son's books for the most practical of reasons – because I don't want to duplicate a purchase.
    I love works by Agatha Christie, Oscar Wilde, W Somerset Maugham, F Scott Fitzgerald, Simon WInchester, George Orwell and am a travel guidebook junkie. I don't buy books based on reviews; honestly, many award-winning books or classics are just plain boring to me. I simply buy what I can read with relative ease – I like books which are simply written and have an element of suspense in it.

  • LOL. I understand about the catalogs. I have been known to struggle through an IT publication or to read the same brochure over and over in the waiting room at the doctor’s office while cursing myself for forgetting my book at home… but i do have a thing for reading books in order, i can’t start another until I finish the first.

  • Damyanti says:

    Hi Posteret, and welcome:)

    Thanks for the quote, I love it! Hope to see you again soon:)

  • Damyanti says:

    Hi Jasmine-Marie, and welcome to my blog. Thanks also for following it:)

    You are a fellow book-lover, I think, cos I am much the same as you. I read everything, including, mystery, comics, scientific journals, catalogs (if there is no other choice lol)

    Happy reading, and hope to see you here often!

  • posteret says:

    I read everywhere I can (except in cars – makes me travel sick!).
    I would never write in a book, but I have spilt tea on them, bent the spines back too far, dropped them in the bath etc.
    I’m a bit like you though – I am ultra careful with other people’s books.
    Regarding the lending of books I always think of the film Out of Africa. In it Karen Blixen asks whether Denis ever lends his books. The reply is similar to “He loaned a book to a friend once and the friend didn’t return it. Denis was most upset and I said ‘You wouldn’t lose a frend over a silly book would you?’ He replied ‘No, but he has!’
    Very apt for a book lover…

  • I too read everywhere. While walking, while driving (at red lights), while watching t.v. (during commercials). I don’t scribble but my books too are stained and worn… and I am irked when someone else has caused some of the wear and tear. I like all books non-fiction and fiction, except mystery, I find it cheesy.

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