“I was reading a book a few weeks ago – I like to read first thing in the morning these days, with my coffee. So I was reading the book and I went to take a sip of coffee and I spilled on the book. I got all upset: ‘Now look! I ruined the book! Now I’ll have to buy another one!’ But I calmed down and kept on reading, and the next day, I kind of liked how the page had swollen a little in that spot where I’d spilled the coffee, I liked the tan outline. I liked how it felt beneath my fingers.
“I had never eaten when I was reading, but I started doing that. I got toast crumbs stuck in between two pages, I got a mustard stain on the bottom of another page, and I got a rip in the jacket and repaired it with Scotch tape. And, you know, the book became more lovable to me. Lovable and comfortable and mine. I began dog-earing pages to indicate where I left off. I underlined passages I liked with whatever was closest: pen, pencil, Magic Markers, once even lipstick.
“… and you all know how I used to feel about people defacing books, but listen: I made it my book. It was me being me. I beat the hell out of that book, and it’s now the one that I love the best. . . . The book is full of me. I can smell myself in it. I can see what resonates with me. When I finished it, I put it face-out on my bookshelf. If I ever read it again, and I think I will, I can come to the mustard stain and remember the day when it rained so hard the water ran down my windows like the house was going through a car wash, and I ate a baloney-and-mustard sandwich for lunch. All those marks I made in the book are…. well, they’re notes on a life. On my life. And they’re important.”
~ Elizabeth Berg, The Confession Club
Elizabeth Berg is on my short list of authors whose books I will order with zero information. She wrote it? I’d like to pre-order, thanks.
This week, a friend of mine saw her book in my hands, and she said, “Oh, I love her stuff. It’s like reading dessert.”
It is. Her words are so delicious. I read as slow as I can, and I write all over the pages. I make them mine. I fill them with me. And when I finish, the book she wrote holds the notes of my life.
And there nothing – nothing – more wonderful than when someone brings my own books to me, books I authored, books where I actually wrote the notes of my own life, and it’s swollen and tattered and dog-eared in all the best ways.
As the writer, I say each page holds your thoughts and mine. The black parts are for my thoughts; the white parts are for yours.
Write in your books. The authors approve.