Dreaming Novel Things: The Should Be Punishments for Misusing a Book

dreamingnovelthingsDreaming Novel Things is a feature in which I discuss book related subjects, but in a creative way. I’ll use interviews, narratives and lists to talk about book trends, book opinion and bookish matters. If you have any book related subjects you’d like to see me discuss just leave me a comment below!

Don’t tell me this thought has never crossed your mind, because as a fellow reader I know it has– many times. We’ve all seen the abuse of books in the course of our lives; that person on the subway who had the nerve to dog-ear a page, a student in the library that broke the spine of their book so that it will never stand tall and proud again and of course the little sister who couldn’t find a better place to put her COLD, CONDESCENDING DRINK then the front cover of your book! This abuse goes on daily, hourly in fact but the government refuses to recognize the importance of this issue.

So I started thinking, daydreaming really about the punishments I would hand out as a law enforcer and protector of all books; and you know what? It was very satisfying.

***Serious Note: Please note that this blog post was just for fun and I do not wish anybody physical or emotional harm. The outcry over Lauren Conrad’s book project was ridiculous and I respect book art in all its forms.– Serious Note Ended***

First I made a list of all the ways to abuse a book that I’ve witnessed in my twenty-one years on this planet.

  • Dog-earing a page
  • Breaking the spine of a book
  • Cold drinks set on the covers of books
  • Staining pages with dirty fingertips
  • Ripping out pages in a book
  • Neglect

Of course, I’ve seen much more than this but we would be here all day handing out justified punishments and presuming we all have lives, I’ve limited the list to just six.

Next I arranged the list in an order of least offending to most offending. This was actually very difficult as the thought of harming a book in ANY way gets a strong reaction but as a pretend law enforcer I have to at least pretend to be fair. So the list with the new order now looks like this:

  • Staining pages with dirty fingertips
  • Dog-earing a page
  • Breaking the spine of a book
  • Cold drinks set on the covers of books
  • Ripping out pages in a book
  • Neglect

Staining Pages with Dirty Fingertips

Charge: Carelessness     

Punishment: Has to wear their clothes inside out

Listen, I like to eat too, so I understand wanting a snack while digging into your favorite book but you owe it to your novel to CHOOSE WISELY. In fact I did a whole blog post on what snacks are best for reading so there are no excuses. For every smudge left on a page means another year with your clothes inside out to show the world your carelessness.

Dog-Earing a Page

Charge: Recklessness

Punishment: Will encounter no sympathy when they stub their toes

Unlike accidentally staining a page of a book, dog-earing a page is a purposeful, malicious attack. The offender is all to aware of their actions but does not give it a second thought. That now dog-eared page will never be completely smooth again all because the offender can’t be bothered with an actual book mark. Next time the offender stubs their toe, chuckle (like you’ve always wanted too).

Breaking the Spine

Charge: Carelessness

Punishment: Break a treasured item of the offender

It always makes me very sad to see a crippled book on a bookshelf where it once stood tall and proud. The thin white creases that now dominate the spine don’t lie, you mistreated your book! Books are treasured items and should be handled as such so if you are willing to break its proudest attribute its only fair we break something treasured of yours.

Cold Drinks on Books

Charge: Manslaughter

Punishment: You have to watch the ten movies you hate the most over and over

This tortuous act happens much more often than you might think. People would much rather sacrifice their innocent book than their $400 antique coffee table. The coffee table is WOOD people and your book is PAPER!!! Who cares about rings on your precious table and who gets a $400 antique table anyway when there are books without homes???

Ripping Out Pages of a Book

Charge: Murder

Punishment: You have to encounter the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard hourly

Ripping out pages of a book is like ripping out its essence– its soul. Those pages hold a unique story that’s only purpose it to be told. If you rip out the pages, its story ceases to be shared and will only know silence. It is too cruel a fate.


Charge: Neglect

Punishment: Banishment from society

Neglect is so much worse than ripping out pages in a book because when you rip out the pages you at least acknowledge its presence. To let a book stand on a bookshelf unopened and untouched without so much as a glance, is sad. A book is NOT a household decoration, it is a story– so treat is as such!

10 thoughts on “Dreaming Novel Things: The Should Be Punishments for Misusing a Book

  1. I agree with your thoughts on damage to a book. I would add one, hot drinks. In this day and age Starbucks beverages are everywhere and you see people in coffee shops reading and spilling. Just as bad as a cold drink wouldn’t you say? Anyway, keep up the good work and protect the worlds books.

  2. I am one of those readers that always keeps their books in pristine and gives anyone who touches or bumps my precioussss the evil eye! Having said that lately I am also finding a new found appreciation for well worn books, but I am still incapable of making them that way myself. 😛

    Nice to have you back Lindsey! Hope life is treating you well. 🙂

    • I totally understand what you mean. When you enter a second hand book shop you just feel a sense of welcome among old friends. I just can’t bear the thought of any of my books falling into that condition! 🙂

      It’s nice to be back, I really missed it! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  3. I read this with one of my best friends at lunch today (she’s an English major) and we both loved it! Though we agreed that there is something to say for a “well-loved” book. You just have to know where that line is!(; However, ripping out pages, using it as a coaster, and utter neglect are never okay!

    • Very true, when you walk into a second hand book store and walk among all of the well worn books there’s a peaceful atmosphere about it. But sometimes I see people treating their books badly and I get so mad! Thanks for reading, glad you guys enjoyed it! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Book Tag Thursdays: Breaking The Spines Tag | lifeofafemalebibliophile

  5. Pingback: Dreaming Novel Things: My Book Borrowing Policy | The Day Dreaming, Candy Eating, Red Headed Bookworm

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