battered books

Books are beautiful.

Stacked neatly on shelves with smooth, straight spines.
Perfectly unwrinkled paper.

But the most beautiful books are the ones that have been read and loved. They are the beaten up, dog-eared, peeling, scratched up books that you find in the home of any true book lover.

Of course if I’m borrowing someone else’s books I would take great care to keep them pristine. But I confess to you now – I am guilty of folding the paper when I couldn’t find a bookmark or a receipt or a train ticket that will do. I read the same books so many times the spines break and the covers crinkle. Look at my bookshelves and you’ll easily be able to tell which my favourites are.

Don’t waste your time trying to keep your books looking as if they’re completely untouched, barely opening the cover for fear of creases.
I don’t know how anyone can lose themselves in a story if they’re not nose-deep in those pages, folding that cover back as far as you can as if you might fall into the pages.

I bought Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty over ten years ago. I read it in one night while I was away at camp with people I didn’t know, homesick and unable to talk to anyone. And then I read it again. I kept it in my schoolbag in case my friends decided to borrow it. I read it over and over again until it literally started to fall apart.



I recently bought a new copy because one of the pages has actually disappeared now. But I love this specific copy. Those pages hold a decade worth of memories. This is the book that kept me company when I was lonely or bored or sad. This book, with it’s rumpled, tea-stained paper, is one of the most beautiful things I have in my possession.

Love your laughter lines, the marks in your skin that show how much you have lived.

And love those battered books. Don’t choose the shiny, new copy in the bookshop. Buy that yellow-papered, cover-warped, dog-eared copy in the charity shop. See the beauty in the books that have lived and been loved.


Happy reading


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