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Thursday, August 14, 2014

What's the Worst Thing You Have Done to a Book?

We asked this question of the visitors in Bescribbled, Nibbled, and Dog-Eared: Early American Children's Books and we got quite a lot of answers!

Visitors confess to having dropped books in the bathtub (I've done that), painted them, written in crayon, and having failed to read them (yup, done that one too).
Readers have hidden books from their children and nestled them next to rotting bananas.

Dr. Rosenbach might have applauded the book-preserving move of keeping books away from children--he noted that kids' destructive tendencies led to the scarcity of historic children's books, since "a young child’s attitude toward a book is not unlike that of a cannibal toward a missionary." Bananas, however, are another matter. Here's what happens when you combine a rotting banana, a book, and a backpack.

"Banana Book." Image by Enokson. Flickr.
One visitor reported having created fake author inscriptions as a sorority prank.

Some have even gotten violent with their books, ripping out pages in anger or using them as target practice for throwing stars.

This visitor isn't alone in using books as targets--The Forgotten Bookmarks blog has a great post of a 1928 biography of Herbert Hoover with embedded BBs.

As for me, I remember borrowing Tomi Ungerer's The Three Robbers from the library when I was very young (pre-school). Something about the book terrified me and I kept insisting that we had to throw it in the garbage. My mother said we couldn't, since it was a library book and I think she eventually had to take it away and hide it so I wouldn't destroy it before we could return it.

So what's the worst thing you have done to a book?

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog.

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