To Bend or Not to Bend: In Defense of Dog-Eared Books

Origami Bookmark Etsy

Today, I came across this adorable idea for an origami book mark. It promised to prevent the age-old problem of lost bookmarks slipping out of pages, or the emergency need to dog-ear a corner.

But here’s the thing, I don’t use bookmarks. I crease the corners of, write in, and generally molest whatever book I’m reading.

Some readers are anti-crease and adamantly so, but I like my books to be lived in. For me, a book without bent corners is like a living room sofa with plastic slip covers or the fancy china that no one uses.

Crinkled corners do more than remind you where you left off the night before. You follow them to your favorite passages, like a well-worn path through a patch of woods.

Book blemishes leave an impression of those that read the same words as you and welcomed the tale into their hearts and minds.

They let you know what your friends thought of the book you adored and insisted they borrow. Bending the pages softens them in a way, helps release the essence of the book.

dog-eared book

Of course I respect the preferences of friends if I’m the one borrowing. But, yes, I do bend library book pages! I never mind checking out a book that has wrinkled pages or fingerprints. Reader residue adds dimension to the experience.

A turned-down corner won’t slip out and get lost under your bed, or fall into a mud puddle as you scramble off the train.

It’s not that I don’t have bookmarks; I have received dozens of them as gifts, and I love them all. When I receive one, I’m reminded that the giver understands how much books matter to me.

My daughter brought me a leather monogrammed bookmark during a high school tour of Italy and a metal one engraved with a thoughtful message at the rehearsal dinner the night before her wedding.


My son brought me a book of Abraham Lincoln quotes and matching bookmark from a middle school field trip to Springfield because he knew I loved books and Honest Abe.

Bookmarks are the ultimate book accessory. I save them, display them, or use them with art books, coffee table books, and collectibles.

But most books are to be consumed, devoured, and remembered. The wrinkled pages and stretched spines of a book tell us that something was well-loved and served a noble purpose, like frayed cuffs on an old pair of jeans or initials carved in a farm table.

origami bookmark






Our reading habits, like our book buying habits are personal. We prefer hardcover or e-Readers, ordering from Amazon or visiting independent bookstores. You may be a stickler for pristine pages, or are you a rebel like me?

Origami isn’t my thing, but I made the referenced bookmark in under a minute using a discarded calendar page. I’m pretty sure I won’t use it.

6 Thoughts on “To Bend or Not to Bend: In Defense of Dog-Eared Books

  1. Hmm, interesting! I’d never really thought of “book blemishes” this way. I tend to fall more in the “protect and preserve” camp. I might put post-it tabs on the edge of a page, but I’d never write in a book or fold the pages. Even when a book comes with blank lines meant to be filled… I’ll use a separate notebook instead! I’m not sure why that is. I think your way sounds more lovable and less stuffy. 🙂

    • I think this is my rationalization post 🙂 I may just be too haphazard and disorganized for “protect and preserve!” But it came from the heart. I also do the sticky thing – especially in a book I’m going to review, or if it’s from an author I’m interviewing. I have to highlight all the bits I loved. Funny how we all have an identifiable tendency, though. Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read!

  2. Ha ha! I have 5 bookmarks, which I manage to lose regularly, in various books I am currently trying to read simultaneously. 😉 So like you, I dog ear! It’s a sign of affection!! 😁

    Nice post Suzanne!

    Love from the little Swiss Hedgeworm. xx

  3. I’m a “new” book person, meaning I always want the crispest, most perfect version on the shelf. That said, I leave my mark on a book, bending, noting, highlighting, etc. On the occasion that my crazy need for a clean book is overridden by finding a book at the library or one loaned by a friend, I am always intrigued by what the previous reader found illuminating. The dog ears, underlines and cracked spines at a particular plot point make me think about what drew a person to that word or sentence. It is a book within the book.

    • Yes, Deb! I love the new, best, untarnished version from the bookstore. Leave the crinkling and wrinkling to me!!! Along the lines of your highlighting, I’m always intrigued when I go back to a treasured book (maybe on craft or on the writing life) and see that a section that speaks to me now so pointedly didn’t speak to me at the time. Almost like reading a whole new book!

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