John Scalzi has ideas about how people treat books, because, well of course he does.

Looking at his (actually Anne Fadiman’s) grid, I have been all of them from Lawful Good (uses leather or other proper bookmarks) to Chaotic Evil (rips out pages as they uses them). One on occasion, I destroyed a copy of Absolom, Absolom (which I hated — and I do NOT want to hear from all of you who think it’s a great novel) by ripping each page into one-inch strips still attached to the spine, all the while repeating “I don’t hate the South….I don’t hate the South…” (the last line of the book). I was riding on the bus from MIT to Wellesley, and in my defense, I had undiagnosed bronchitis and was running a 102F fever.

Mostly, though, I agree with the commenter on Scalzi’s post that books are tools. Yes, like all tools they should be cared for, but they should not be treated as objects of reverence.

Once, in a Scripture class, the leader ripped a page out of a Bible, accomponied by gasps from several of the students. “It’s the words that matter; not the paper and print. Anything else is idolatry..”

Aside from specific items with historical significance (Gutenberg Bibles, original copies of the Federalist Papers) or personal import (family bibles with births, deaths, and marriages; my signed copy of Alton Brown’s first book, which has personal history tied up in it), I pretty much agree with that statement.

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