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Why Dog-Earing Isn’t the Cat’s Meow

Is dog-earing a big deal to me? Does an unflushed toilet bother you?

For those who don’t remember, or refuse to admit it continues, a dog-ear is a folded down corner of a book page. The name came about because wolves’ ears stand erect while the ears of many breeds of dogs flop over. People use this habit as a crude (by my standard) bookmark.

There seem to be two distinct camps when it comes to folding down the corner of a page. Those that do and couldn’t care less about violating precious paper, and those that treat a book as a sacred possession.

You know where I fall. I own and use as reference, hundreds and hundreds of books and periodicals. Knowledge is power; books are stepping stones to arrive there.

It unnerves me to get a library book, or an oversized coffee table book, a rare book that is scared with dog-ears. Have you ever seen a bible with a big folded triangle at the top of the page?

Rest assured, the local “library police” are cracking down on this by cracking knuckles. When you least expect it, they are peering at readers who need to take a break and then peel back the page like you peel a banana!

First infraction when caught, “Abuse of a book in a willing manner that may intrude its enjoyment for the next potential reader.” Penalty: dismissal from the premises for that day. Second offense: written apology written to library community that will be posted. Third time? You’re out!

The same people who don’t like dog-ears, don’t like anyone writing or jotting notes in books. And the ones who don’t mind creased pages also have no conscience when putting “new ink” onto those pages.

Thus far, I have mainly discussed public books. But what if you own it? I suppose if you paid for it you can jump up and down on it if you want to. Even so, I don’t “dog it” or “ink it.”

That’s from being a hard-wired caretaker of all things for future generations. I’m well aware books aren’t as popular as they once were. Microfilm, the Internet, and Kindles have pretty much taken over. We save trees (good) but have lost heritage (bad). I feel if I keep a book, any book, in decent shape it may end up in good hands of someone else who will enjoy it.

I watched my mother digest her garden and cooking books in the confines of her own “reading den.” Next to a window that was next to a large tree. Quiet. Secure. She had her own “reading chair” set aside for it. And a “reading lamp” above her shoulder. But she didn’t need “reading glasses” yet! Did she ever dog-ear a page? Not on your life! Many of her books had glossy, thick pages and some had colorful pictures. Bending pages in books like those were sacrilegious to her! I guess that trickled down to me.

There are a few exemptions to the extra ink. I have no problem if it’s signed by the author or a significant figure within the book. Or autographed by a famous person. That adds to the flavor.

Let it be known there are far better ways to note where you left off reading than by folding down the top corner and creasing it with your nail. Hey people, are you allergic to — bookmarks? Book lovers will give you one free! These slide between pages like a hot knife through butter.

They come in many varieties, have fun quotes or people or places on them, and some are even scented. Unlike that unflushed toilet, I already mentioned.

My grandmother used a bookmark made of woven fabrics. I have noticed readers using family photographs, or fancier jobs even having a tassel. Anything to save a page!

Dog-earing books on loan from a friend or library should come with the following disclaimer, “Bend a page or put face down to break this book’s spine and you shall pay one way or the other.” Books survive longer if not creased or tattered. Keeping them as new for as long as possible is a book collector’s mantra!

Some books I have read are dog-eared at crucial moments. What, just get up and give up during a cliffhanger moment? Bathroom break? Dinner? Putting a book down at a memorable moment equates to ending a joke before the punch line!

Here are some fine suggestions for bookmarks: trading cards such as football or baseball, rectangular paint chip samples from the hardware store, or even “post-it” notes. How about your receipt from Starbucks? A parking or speeding ticket? A concert stub can work, and so will a travel luggage tag.

I do have one “bookmark” that breaks all the rules. It breathes, has a tail and claws and sheds occasionally. Yes, the family cat likes to plop himself on top of pages of a book and sprawls out on magazines like a beach bum. Hey, it works. The fur between the pages or caught in staples lets you know where you ultimately left off.

I think it goes without saying that cats have no time or respect for dog-ears. Or staining a prized book. Same goes for the book aficionado in your family.

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