Confession: I’ve Dog-Eared My Pages

dog-eared-book-e1358973316431Confession: I have broken most of the cardinal rules of book-reading. Most book lovers will tell you not to do the following:

  • Dog ear the pages
  • Eat or drink while reading
  • Open your book completely flat or fold the cover over itself
  • Write in your book
  • Share with someone you don’t know extremely well


And, to be fair,Β most book lovers have at some point broken (or are still breaking) one or a few of these rules. For example, I am really bad about snacking and reading. I eat a lot of popcorn, which is greasy, and I still can’t help it. Plus, I read in the tub. And there was a time when I dog-eared the pages and circled grammatical errors to send back to publishers (thank goodness for ebooks and digital highlighting).

That said, a lot of what I’m about to list is probably common knowledge for those on the rare books circuit. But, I am just a regular reader, so I found some of them very interesting. Plus, I am someone who has toted my paper friends across the country, donated hundreds, and currently have stacks of ARC’s all over the house, so I will definitely be implementing some of the following tips. I hope that you are able to use one or two yourself!

  • Don’t stack your books too closely together – otherwise pulling them in and out can warp the covers and the pages. Same goes for tall books – lay them flat if they are over 15″-18″ tall.
  • For your collection of antique books, choose glass or baked enamel shelves because wooden shelves can let in toxins through their ridges (unless properly coated).
  • Have a favorite reading spot that lets in sunlight? Just make sure you keep your books out of it because direct sunlight can fade their vibrant covers.
  • Bring back that “bookish” smell by placing musty books in a sealed container with a half-inch of kitty litter spread along the bottom overnight. Don’t have cats? Then put them in a paper bag with an open container of baking soda, staple it shut, and wait a week!Β 
  • ToΒ avoid that musty smell altogether, place a sheet of fabric softener between the pages of each book that you store in boxes.
  • Dust your bookshelves regularly because the little particles of junk can damage your books.
  • Don’t use newspaper as a bookmark – it darkens the pages and can smear!
  • Do NOT do most of these things (especially #12)


I hope these tips will help you take care of your treasured friends.


Confession Time:

Which of the cardinal rules have you broken?


As a side note, here is a photo that I found when I Google’d “Destroyed Books”

that totally creeped me out.


  1. says

    We have 2 things in common: I love to snack and read, and secondly I am addicted to popcorn!

    I don’t write in my books, and I absolutely hate it when someone dog-ear pages of a book, especially if it’s MY book. A friend did it once, with my book and I was so annoyed, but didn’t say anything. Why couldn’t she use a bookmark?

    Nice tips!

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    • The Book Wheel says

      I eat a lot of butter popcorn – which also means that my keyboard cover on my computer has little clear spots and has to be replaced. But I try to eat with one hand and read with the other.

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  2. says

    I dogear ARCs, but never a real book! I’ve worked in public libraries for over 15 years, though, so my real pet peeve is when people carry books from the car when it’s raining without protecting them from getting wet. I KNOW you would never do that!

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  3. says

    Guilty as charged on the following counts:
    I’ve dog-eared pages.
    I highlight in books, mostly reference books that only I will use.
    I eat lunch every day reading and eating.
    I’m a book stacker.
    There are so many bookshelves in our home I can’t possibly remember which ones have been dusted last or not.
    I used to read in the tub but after two spinal fusions, no more bathing in a tub; it’s only showers for me and I just wouldn’t take a book there.
    I love having a Kindle and all those books in there, because I can’t do any of these things and harm the book, but I really miss holding a real book in my hands. Still go to the library occasionally for that very reason.

    Forgive me, Fellow Book Lovers, for I have sinned.

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  4. says

    I love these confessions. I admit I used to dog ear books but don’t anymore. I’d rather stick any random piece of paper in it. I read lying down in bed before going to sleep so I don’t usually eat/drink while reading. I can’t take baths because they are extremely uncomfortable so I don’t read in the tub or the pool. I am guilty of leaving books stacked on top of each other and really need to move them from the top of my dresser. All our shelves are wooden, I haven’t even heard of baked enamel.

    Ok, I get it now. Someone posted on my blog that dog was super creepy. I didn’t know what they meant because the only dog I posted on my blog was my sweet fluffy white doggie in a Wordless Wednesday months ago. Now I see a super creepy dog, they must’ve had our blogs confused :)

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    • The Book Wheel says

      Must have! Because the dog in this post is absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, very creepy! And I’d never heard of baked enamel either. PS Thanks for the share on FB today!

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  5. Mary C. says

    Hmm, I never really considered my self persnickety about books. Nobody dog ears, right? It’s so easy to use a receipt or torn off piece of paper. Writing in a book? My father taught me better than that! The important thing, though, is to enjoy your books – however you choose. :) My guilty secret” If I’m not really into a book, I don’t feel bad about moving on without finishing it. There is always a better one waiting to be opened!

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    • The Book Wheel says

      That’s true. However you want to read is your prerogative, right? Although, I can’t just move on that easily. I have to at least make an attempt to finish it :)

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  6. says

    Since I get books from the library where I work (when I get print editions), I don’t do many of these. I did “break” a spine on a book from there the other day. A new one too. Ouch.

    I try not to eat while reading, but unfortunately even though I try to be careful do find a smudge mark or two in books I read once in a while. I drink, but keep my drinks away from the books.

    Writing and sharing…absolute no-nos with library books. Not gonna happen. :)

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  7. says

    Oh my! I’m in big trouble…

    I break the spine of paperbacks
    I eat/drink while reading
    I’ve read in the tub
    I stack my books closely together
    I stand tall books upright
    I pile books on top of each other
    I write in the margins (sometimes but especially if it’s an important note)
    I use wooden shelves which I never dust (that’s a double whammy!)
    I never store them properly. No dryer sheets for me!

    I’m actually afraid to continue. I’ll probably never receive another ARC again.

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    • The Book Wheel says

      GASP! You break the spines?! Actually, I can’t say anything because I often fall asleep with a book in my hand and inadvertently cause damages.

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  8. says

    Forgive me…for I have sinned! I….

    – Dog ear pages
    – Eat and drink while reading
    – Pile books on top of each other
    – Read in the bath tub
    – Have never dusted my bookshelves (yeah, housekeeping is not one of my strong points)
    – Left books AND a writing utensil within reach of my toddler…

    What can I say…I’m a book sinner!

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    • The Book Wheel says

      Because I don’t have kids, I will forgive you for the leaving books out near children with a writing utensil nearby. I’m sure it could happen to anyone.

      You don’t use books as coasters, do you?

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  9. says

    I am VERY fussy about my books. I like to keep them in pristine condition.

    I was quite upset when I lent a friend a book and her dog ate the binding on the bottom corner. Needless to say, she hasn’t gotten any of my books any more.

    I would never bend the pages or write in the books.

    The only thing I can think of that is bad is that sometimes I lay the book open. Not good at all for the spine.

    Oh…bookmarks. I have a ton of bookmarks, but I use receipts and envelopes for bookmarkers.

    This is a fun topic.


    Love your blog name…very nice blog too. Going to follow by e-mail, Facebook, etc.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Blog

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    • The Book Wheel says

      Her dog ate the binding? That’s not cool. I mean, it’s not the dog’s fault, but if you have a dog that chews things then you should put said things out of reach – especially when it’s borrowed!

      Thank you for stopping by :) Sorry it took a few days to get back to your comment!

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  10. says

    I’m so guilty of being an eater/reader combo. I still remember my mom yelling at me for running late for school in the morning because I’d be sucked into a book every morning while eating my cereal. Many of the others make me cringe just thinking of them, though!

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  11. says

    I’m so careful about my books. I follow most of the rules that you listed out except I tend to write in books I own for school (I highlight some passages, too :/). For other books I read for fun/leisure though, I stack them really high.

    And that dog is realllllllllly creepy for some weird reason.

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  12. says

    I am a TERRIBLE book owner because aside from intentionally doing something stupid to a book, like ripping up its pages or messing it up to make it unreadable, I don’t abide by any book rules. I write in my books. I jot notes and highlight things I like and dogear the pages. I eat and I drink while reading. I read in the bathtub so lots of my books have corners that have gone wavy where my wet hands touched them. Books are such a huge part of my life that I refuse to separate them and have them exist in their own little bubble, and if someone I don’t know well takes a book and never brings it back, it’s my hope that they either loved it too much to give it back or they’ll read it someday. I can always repurchase the title if I liked it. (I draw the line at autographed books, though! I read The Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle in college and he autographed it at an event on campus. The next semester, I loaned it to a girl taking the same class and she returned it to me at the end of the semester with the cover ripped completly off and taped on. Never again!) They’re crammed on my shelves because I have limited space and too many books. I wouldn’t want them any other way!

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    • The Book Wheel says

      SHE DESTROYED YOUR SIGNED COPY?! That’s a horrendous thing to do! It wasn’t even my book and my blood is boiling! Aside from that, I understand what you mean about not wanting them to be kept separate. I tend to buy a lot of used books (unless I’m getting it signed) and so I can be a little more careless because I can blame the damage on the previous user. But then I start thinking about how my actions could ruin the book for someone in 50 years and that I’m depriving future generations of stock.

      I might be reading a little much into this whole theory…..

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  13. says

    Noooo! Say it ain’t so! πŸ˜‰ I’m a cuckoo about my books and the condition they are in. But yea, I eat and drink when I read. I read in the tub as well. One thing I would never do? Dog-ear a page! Gasp! Never πŸ˜‰

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  14. says

    I follow all of those on your list at the top, except for snacking. However, it’s usually not sticky stuff and I always have napkins and never touch the book with my snacking hand unless it has been wiped down on the napkin.

    I own more bookmarks than any family of 20 could ever need. I always yell at my students when the open the paperbacks too wide or fold covers over. I tell them it will ruin the books and the school will make them pay for it, which is true, but I’d say it no matter what because it makes me cringe. And my only reason for liking e-readers is because of the highlight and note feature…I don’t even mark in my textbooks.

    I do only lend to people who completely understand my eccentricities with books or have the same eccentricities…if they are neither I say I don’t think I have that one (even if we know each other extremely well). I once had a friend, who breaks ALL of those rules, going to personally meet a big time author in the Christian circuit and I asked him to get my book signed. I took off the dust jacket and sealed it in a plastic bag. He said he felt so dumb pulling out that book and explaining who wanted it signed! hahaha.

    And we just put up a pool and so many people said, “Oh, Jennine will be floating around with a book all summer!” WRONG! That drives me nuts in movies! Taking chances with a book in water? (Tub may be different…you can get it out of the tub to safety much easier.)

    Wow, thanks a lot Allison. Now I feel either really nerdy or like I need some sort of therapy!

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    • The Book Wheel says

      This whole comment made me laugh out loud. I never understood reading in the pool, either. It seems to difficult. At least in the tub you’re stationary and can get it out much faster, right? I wouldn’t call you nerdy, though, just “careful.” πŸ˜€

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  15. says

    I am guilty of writing in books, laying them flat (does this mean while reading, or turning it over, open to save your spot instead of using a bookmark — because I only do the former; I’m horrified by people who do the latter), and eating/drinking while reading. Which is why my beautiful copy of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is soaked with coffee :(

    I don’t have any rare/valuable books, but those tips for keeping books in good shape are interesting!

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  16. says

    Ha, I always bend the front cover behind my book, it’s just so much easier to read like that! I like my books to look read and loved and also used to dog ear the pages. Not any longer thought because it started getting on my nerves! I also eat/ drink when reading and only used to write on course books. It’s so much easier! So many sins.

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