I do something very, very naughty. Something people frequently tell me, makes me a bad person. And I must confess that I do it daily and I do it with abandon! I do it, my little Kettle Chips, just because I can!
This terrible misdemeanor makes visitors to my house shake their heads in minor disgust. I try to explain myself and they look at me as if to say you poor misguided fool, and then they go back to their immaculate lives safe in the knowledge that they would never dream of writing in books. Because yes Housekeepers, that is what I am talking about: writing in books. May I rot in hell.
I write in them. I scrawl my thoughts in the margins. I take a propelling pencil and mark great big circles around paragraphs I like, and if I am feeling particuarly vexed I doodle elaborate flowerscapes between sentences. I note down the dates I started and finished the book on the last page and write my name and the date I happened across it on the first. I stuff the pages full of heart shaped post-it notes and vintage postcards with quotes scrawled on the back. I stick ad-libris stickers on the inner cover and tie fine ribbon around the pages to mark my place and hold all my bits and bobs of paper in. And worst of all sometimes I fold back the corners of pages I want to read again and fail to panic should the pages be stained with who knows what.
It is not that I do not have respect for the written word, it is in fact because I consider them to be living, breathing entities crying out out to be interacted with, that I fail to consider it sacriligious to be slightly more at one with my current reading matter than I probably should be.
And further to that, I consider the books I so call “ruin” to be mine and do not wish to operate a public lending library from my living room (though for the sake of all the librarians amongst us, I promise I don’t do it to books borrowed!).
I like it that I can pick up a book once adored and merely from the dates inside it or a phrase underlined with occasional nib-breaking venom, read not only the book, but a moment in my own personal history. I don’t want to kiss them goodbye and bow my head in shame when she who is after borrowing them reads my occasionally private responses to literary wisdom. But then those I am willing to lend are not usually those that have inspired such outrageous behavior in the first place and thus I am happy to bin them or lend them or recycle them and thereafter never give them another thought.
Is there something wrong with me? Is this the kind of confession I should have made to the literary equivalent of a priest? Have I gone down in your estimation or are you are a book scribbler too? Are we, the book scribbling few, a menace to society and so utterly unable to contain our thoughts we have to spill them out wherever we can??
You tell me Housekeepers…