I don’t like to dog ear my books, nor do I write in them — well, except for paving them (writing in the translation of a foreign word) when I was a student. I recently paved my copy of Martin Amis’ latest, The Zone of Interest, in pencil, so that my granddaughter could read it without stumbling over the German words he sprays about. But to mark my place I just hate turning down the corner of the page: it’s so permanent. Not sure why I should feel bad about rediscovering points in a book where I had stopped — maybe it is getting too close to social reading, though here the group would only be me-now and me-then. But what’s wrong with a book mark, a scrap of paper, a used envelope, a Metrocard? Still this inhibition is perhaps a little odd: after all the book is mine and if I read it again in the future maybe I would be interested to see what struck me enough to annotate the page when I read it before. But I don’t really believe that: I think I prefer to come at it fresh (or as fresh as memory permits) every time. Just as I hate to be shown those irritating highlights other readers have made in the Kindle file. (Yes I know you can turn that off, and I have.)

I may be wasting my time writing this post! A search of Google for “Dog earing books” yields 1,840,000 hits for the utterly ridiculous “Dogs eating books” — who knew this was such a serious problem? Though now that I think of it, I did once have a dog who gnawed the spines off books on low-lying shelves. But as she gnawed anything, I didn’t realize I was observing a widespread canine literary antipathy. When one eventually gets there the Wikipedia entry turns out to be remarkably po-faced.

Erica Baum, a poet/photographer has a whole book called Dog Ear (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011)dog ear erica baum made up of pictures of words from facing pages dog-eared to make up a sort of found poem. Whether one reads them with all the horizontal lines first then all the vertical ones, or horizontal, round the corner to vertical, back to horizontal and so on, some of them do occasionally yield some sort of meaning. The “corpse” one is a good example down to the fascinating last word “grelp”. Not sure I’m altogether on-board with this sort of conceptual poetry — the most I can say for it is “Interesting”. Here’s a link to a review of the book from Seattle-pi.