Back from Bulgaria

I arrived back in Manchester Airport late last night after visiting Lyuba in Bulgaria. My jar of leftover Bulgarian Lev is now very well stocked.

I’ve been wanting to read The Lord of the RIngs the whole time I was away, for some reason. Now I’ve returned to my books, including not a few copies of LOTR, I’ve decided I’m going to read the nice hardback illustrated editions that I bought from Oxfam books during my first ever term in Oxford. 

Anyway, I’m home now, and I read a few books while I was away (me and Lyuba are a very boring couple like that) so more quotes will follow soon! Expect Iain M. Banks and Terry Pratchett!

But Marlow was not exceptional (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Sometimes I think this whole city was put here simply because the gods must adore crime. Pickpockets rob the common folk, merchants rob anyone they can dupe, Capa Barsavi robs the robbers and the common folk, the lesser nobles rob nearly everyone, and Duke Nicovante occasionally runs off with his army and robs the shit out of Tel Verarr or Jerem, not to mention what he does to his own nobles and his common folk.
Locke Lamora in Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora


I don’t mean cracking them on purpose, but-…

Doesn’t cracking the spine show your love for the book?

Shouldn’t the spines of yourfavouritebooks be destroyed?

I’m all for keeping books pretty, the covers, the part of the book the initially attracts you to it, right? The beautiful cover that tempts you to look inside (I’ve always loved the comparison that people make between people and books).

The text on the spine of my favourite books have somewhat worn away worn away because of the amount of times the pages have been turned. I mean- I do hold books in an odd way, but it seems to me like different people have their own way of holding books, I have two ways, but the second way is responsible for why the spines of my books are so cracked.

To me, if I looked upon someones bookshelf and I can’t see any cracks in the spines, my first thought is; “Have they actually read these books, or are they just for show?” I know I probably seem like one of those people, to other people, who buys books just to seem smart or deep or whatever, but I don’t. I do actually read the books I get my hands on.

I’m currently 1/3 of my way through three books. I’ve never tried reading more than one book at once before because I didn’t trust myself to be able to follow each story line separately, turns out it’s not that hard. Including those three, I have a pile of eighteen books to read, some I’m desperately looking forward to reading (Looking for Alaska, Inconceivable and The Lovely Bones), others I’m reading because I’m somewhat forcing myself to because I might learn a thing or two (Destination of the species, Hamlet, Taming the Shrew and Time warped), considering that I’m studying Acting, Hamlet and Taming of the Shrew are somewhat of a necessity, I am, however, not a philosophy student, but I’ve always thought it might be something I’d be interested in, so I bought a philosophy book that sounded rather interesting.

But, I digress-

Cracked spines have always, to me, seemed like they should be a part of any good book reader’s collection, to show their love of those books, so people might ask what’s so good about that particular book, and then you can spill your heart out about how it changed your life, how it made you feel, how it made you laugh and cry and long for something that can only be found at the end of a great journey just like the protagonist.

“In the postscript of a previously published collection of my artwork, I wrote that ‘The pages of my favourite books are tattered.’ I keep the books I love within arm’s reach, and I read them over and over. The tattered pages show how much I love them.” -Hiroyuki Asada, 2006, writer and artist of Tegami Bachi

I will admit that, before reading that, I’d never really paid much attention to the cracks in a books spine before, but when I read what Asada had wrote, I started paying more attention to my books, to books that belonged to other people. I don’t make a habit of lending books from people often because I’m always worried that I’m taking too long to read it and they’ll start to think I have no intention of returning it, so I panic read and don’t really get to enjoy it as much as I’d like to.

But my friend lent me a book once that he loved so much, he told me that if I damaged it in any way, or cracked the spine, he would have to kill me, literally every time I turned a page I checked the spine and the corners of the book…

I don’t lend books very often either. If you look at my bookshelves it’s a lot of teenage girl fiction and manga, but if you look at my drawers there’s philosophy and medicine books (and the occasional Doctor Who book…).

I don’t think that there’s much else to say. I was originally laid in bed read a book my friend gave me, but every time I’m even close to books I’m always paying attention to the spine, it’s become somewhat of a habit. I appreciate a clean spine, but I appreciate a damaged one too.

Maybe there’s a deeper, subconscious meaning behind this… I might muse over that for a while.

But for now I have to get cracking (see what I did there?) on chapter five ;)


My contribution is a simple one:I do not like to destroy the people I love, so why should I like to destroy anything else I love?

P.S. You know jack all about medicine and philosophy, so stop posing. You may read them, but you don’t comprehend what you’re reading and as you constantly prove; you never LEARN anything from them. This post alone proves you’re more about the aesthetic than someone who preserves their books. I keep mine in good condition so that they’ll last out the ages and because knowledge must be protected, not just because they’re pretty.

I have several books, such as my paperback copy of Mortal Engines, and my translation of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, where the spine never gets cracked simply because the grain of the paper lies the opposite way. The pages are floppier in the direction in which they have to bend to open, and so you don’t have to bend the spine to open the pages. ME and NE are probably my most read and most studied books, respectively, and their spines are perfect. There may be a practical reason why the majority of books are printed with the grain in the way that breaks the spine, but I’ve never heard it, so I don’t see why all books shouldn’t be printed this way.

Personally, I think the only explanation is a conspiracy by publishers to make us destroy the spines of our books, so we’re more likely to replace them, and less likely to buy tatty-looking second hand copies. In all seriousness, I did go to a talk recently which included a bloke from Penguin, who said that second hand books were the bane of his existence, and he wished people would all buy new copies from his company instead. I know I personally am less inclined to buy a second hand book if its spine is broken (although Huw may disagree with me), since I don’t want a book to have been loved, I want it to have been loved by me.

Anyway, my point is, there’s really no reason for a spine of a book to be broken at all, no matter how hard you love it. It’s just that the grain of the pages goes the wrong way.

Edit: I talked to my dad, who used to be a printer, and he thinks it’s more an issue of paper type than paper grain.

My friends, you are outcasts, though you do not know it, and you have forfeited your place on earth. For there are two races - trees and man; and for each there is a different dispensation. Trees are silent, motionless, serene. They live and die, but do not know the taste of either life or death; to them a secret has been entrusted but not revealed. But the other tribe - the passionate, tragic, rootless tree - man? Alas! He is a creature whose highest privileges are a curse. In his mouth is ever the bitter-sweet taste of life and death, unknown to the trees. Without respite he is dragged by the two wild horses, memory and hope; and he is tormented by a secret that he can never tell. For every man worthy of the name is an initiate, but each one into different Mysteries.
Endymion Leer in Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees