I Don’t Care If You Dogear My Pages (And Other Confessions of a Failed Book Fanatic)

Brenna Clarke Gray

Staff Writer

Part muppet and part college faculty member, Brenna Clarke Gray holds a PhD in Canadian Literature while simultaneously holding two cats named Chaucer and Swift. It's a juggling act. Raised in small-town Ontario, Brenna has since been transported by school to the Atlantic provinces and by work to the Vancouver area, where she now lives with her stylish cyclist/webgeek husband and the aforementioned cats. When not posing by day as a forserious academic, she can be found painting her nails and watching Degrassi (through the critical lens of awesomeness). She posts about graphic narratives at Graphixia, and occasionally she remembers to update her own blog, Not That Kind of Doctor. Blog: Not That Kind of Doctor Twitter: @brennacgray

There’s an adorable HuffPo article going around the internet at the moment: These Stereotypes about Book Lovers Are Absolutely True, and That’s a Good Thing. It’s a very cute look at the life of a book fanatic, and I agree with lots of the listed ideas, but a lot of them got me thinking, the way the Book Riot Facebook page gets me thinking, that maybe I’m not really a book fanatic after all. I mean, okay, I’ve built a life of letters — I teach literature for a living, I’m a literary scholar (ostensibly), I blog about books and comics and write reviews as my main hobbies, and so far I’ve read 94 books this year. But maybe I’m not a real reader. Here’s why.

1. I don’t care if you dogear my pages. If I lend you a book, I anticipate that you will read it. If it comes back a little haggard, I assume you took it places with you and enjoyed its company, and that sounds great to me. This is likely related to my next point…

2. I dogear my own pages. And highlight and annotate. I make notes in the margin. In pen. Almost always in pen. Sometimes I use the frontispiece of the book to plot out a blog post or lecture or critical piece on that book — and sometimes on another book that book reminded me of. I do this, too, in pen.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Book Hatred.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Book Hatred.

Look at me, hating this book so much (it's a signed copy, too).

Look at me, hating this book so much (it’s a signed copy, too).


It's a tool, not a jewel.  (It is however a fabulous novel, and you should read it.)

It’s a tool, not a jewel. (It is however a fabulous novel, and you should read it.)

3. I don’t worry about other people cracking the spine. I likely already cracked it.

Spine I have loved and snapped.

Spine I have loved and snapped.

4. If I do lend you a book, by the way, I actually assume you won’t remember to return it. This is because I need a lot of prompting to return a book. Unless I’m writing on or teaching a book in the near future — and I don’t lend those out, as they’re tools of my trade — I don’t really care when books go wandering. This opens a new spot on my shelf that, quite frankly, will likely be full by the time you do return it. So keep it.

5. I probably feel this way because I don’t think of books as sacred objects. At all. Once read, most books become more stuff in my house that I would rather lived elsewhere. I think the story is sacred, but the hunk of dead tree? Meh. Which is why I think eBooks are swell. I can store zoodles of them in no space at all.

6. I rarely give books as gifts unless I know the person really well. Many of my friends are voracious readers, so I don’t want to give them something they’ve already read, and I’d be mortified to gift someone a book I think they ought to have read. I am not big on prescription presents.

7. I do not care if a movie adaptation of a book I love is bad because it’s a different thing from the book I love. Film is an entirely different art form. I’m a big believer that the worst adaptations are the ones that try to stick slavishly to the texts.

8. Typos do not bother me. There are probably several in this list.

9. I do not cringe in airport bookstores. I do not have strong opinions about what is trashy and what is not trashy. I do have strong opinions on what is good story and what is bad story, but I don’t have any intention of unloading that on the poor teenager trying to ring up my gum at MacDonald-Cartier in Ottawa. In fact, given my not-at-all-secret love of Robert Langdon’s adventures, I don’t really judge anyone’s taste in anything (and I don’t accept the judgement of others, either).

10. I do not have any issue overpacking books for holidays because eBooks are amazing.

Phew! Glad to have that off my chest. Now how long before you all chase me off the bookternet?


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