On Breaking Book Spines | Book Discussion

These aren’t my HP books, but these are definitely what mine look like!

Now, here we’re getting into the big questions of the bookish world. Do you dog-ear pages, or use bookmarks? Do you write in your books? Do you tab them? Do you break book spines, or try to keep a new look? Or, as some people say: are you a ‘monster’ or not?

When I was younger, I would always always break spines. Sometimes I would open them and break the spine before I started reading. I always used to dog-ear pages too, including library books. I don’t know quite when that started to phase out, but I don’t really do either anymore. (I also have an unhealthy bookmark obsession collection, so that might have something to do with the latter. I ❤ bookmarks.) 

Side note: if I have a hardback, though, that spine is being broken. Just so ya know, we’re talking paperbacks here, although obviously dog-earing hardback pages is a thing too.

Nowadays, I don’t often break my book spines. Why is that? Have I really become so materialistic that I don’t want to break my book spines? Well, sometimes, but not always.

Of course, yes, there is the aesthetic quality. Unbroken book spines can be considered prettier than broken book spines. Since I’ve joined ‘bookstagram’ and also of course blogging, I have taken more care with my books because I like to photograph but I’m pretty sure this trend of mine started before then too.

Maybe it was because older books I had with broken spines had started to lose pages, and I didn’t want that to happen with new books. Which, to be honest, I think is a reasonable thing to do. You don’t want to miss a page in the middle of the battle and lose out on who won.

Normally, I don’t mind what my books look like. I buy a lot second-hand, and if they have a broken spine I’m not usually deterred. I also really enjoy reading library books and those spines are being broken, baby! Library books are of course made to be loved by all.

But I think the reason that I don’t really break book spines nowadays is because I don’t have to. I have got a technique where I can read even 500-page paperbacks and I manage to only make slight indents with the spines. I read with the pages close to my face and generally curled up in a ball (this is just a preferred reading style, by the way, and doesn’t have anything to do with spines: it’s just more comfortable!), so the spines don’t have to be broken, and in this position they don’t generally get broken anyway, even if I have both sides of the book open on my legs. Sometimes the spines will get bent, but that’s fine by me. I also find that if I purposefully break the spines, I can’t read as well as the book wants to naturally flit open to that page. If I’m reading with one hand, for example, this makes it really hard to read!

And I don’t exclusively not break spines. Especially with course books (which tend to get a little trashed over loved). I also think broken spines can have a pleasant aesthetic quality, and also when you look at a shelf full of broken spines you know that they’ve been loved. I always feel somewhat deflated when I put back a well-read and loved book on the shelf and it looks like it’s still in the book store. I wish I had the confidence to break spines more often, and in fact that’s something I might endeavour to do.

So what’s your opinion on breaking book spines? Do you/don’t you? Does it annoy you when people do, or equally when they fight tooth and nail to keep books in pristine condition? Are you going to join me in a spine breaking/bending revolution, or are you going to own your own personal book-store style shelf? 

I think it’s a really interesting conversation about young book collectors and their collections (I’m half-and-half about if I’m a book collector here, btw), but that’s another post for another day. Feel free to comment in below about it though, or you could even send me a guest post if you want to write more! 🙂


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