Pristine vs. Damaged Books – My Thoughts On The Issue

I feel like quite a good chunk of book lovers prefer to have their books in pristine condition. Which is something I’ve never felt when it comes to my own books. I’ve been dog-earing my own copies of books for as long as I can remember and I’ve started to highlight and write in my books in recent years. Some of you guys might consider what I’m doing damaging my books – but I don’t see it that way at all. And I’d like to tell you guys why.


The most important aspect for me is that I want my books to tellย a story. I want people who take a look at my shelves and see the spines of my books to be able to tell which books have been read over and over again. Which stories I keep going back to. It can be a great conversation starter and give someone an idea of what kind of stories you like to read.

And even if the exterior doesn’t tell you much about how often I’ve read a book because the spine is in perfect condition (this mainly applies to hardcovers in my case), the interior definitely will. Either because I have highlighted a bunch of scenes (I am definitely an extensive highlighting type of person) or because I’ve written little notes into the margins of what I was feeling and/or thinking while reading that particular book at any given time.

It’ll even give me a look at myself a year or more ago. Tell me what scenes or relationships I really enjoyed. Which aspects of a story I was really enjoying. Was it the comedy? The flirting? It’s all going to be there in the margins. And as I’ve said before, I really love going back into books I’ve read before and look at what I marked up. Especially when I feel like being reunited with certain characters or character dynamics.


To me, a pristine book is something I want to see in libraries or the bookstore. It’s never something I expect to find on someone else’s shelves. Even though I am a huge fan of the look of shelves upon shelves filled with pristine books. It’s really calming! But if we’re ignoring aesthetics, then please give me all the ‘damaged’ books.

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What are you guys’ thoughts on pristine vs ‘damaged’ books? Do you have a preference for your own shelves and if so, why? Do you feel the need to only have pristine books on your shelves? And are you always conscious of the fact that you might be damaging your book while reading it? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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24 thoughts on “Pristine vs. Damaged Books – My Thoughts On The Issue

  1. i am totally on your side on this one! i mark, highlight, write, break the spines, dog ear and whatever! ๐Ÿ˜€ my book is my book and it tells my story. that’s why i love used books and it’s best, when they are annotated themselves. a book for me, especially my own books, need to look like i have read them. i get why people want their books in new condition, but for me it would take fun of the reading experience, always having to look, that i don’t damage it. nope! not me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I personally don’t mark my books and try and keep them in pristine condition because that’s just my preference but I totally understand why some people mark and highlight and such. If I had to guts to do that, then I would haha but I don’t so I page flag every so often.

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  3. Oh this was so interesting to hear your thoughts on that topic. I love the fact that you like seeing that your books have “lived” that way, by being marked, and coming back to them later on makes you remember things and everything else. It’s so sweet. I always try and keep my books in the best condition that I can, but it’s just out of habit ahah โค

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Honestly, I don’t care much, I think a lot of people are quite adamant about their books being in pristine condition, but I would surely mark things on my books… which I actually don’t do because I get “distracted” reading and forget to mark things. But I like seeing what other people choose to mark, their favorite passages etc. As long as the book isn’t falling apart from being bent too many times or have the cover ripped away, I don’t mind its condition too much. Such a new book is pretty to look at, but in the end it doesn’t matter a lot.

    Great post, by the way! Cool conversation starter ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. honestly i’m really shallow and i like pretty things, lol. i love hardcovers and i’m really careful when i read to keep the book pristine?? idk why it matters so much, though. and if i find a used copy of a book i’ve been wanting, i’ll buy it even if it’s worn. i just (strongly, strongly, strongly) prefer books to be pretty and new looking (shrug)


  6. Hi Swetlana! Love this discussion topic ๐Ÿ™‚
    Back when I took English classes, I used to highlight and write in my books all the time. I also loved the feeling of flipping through the book and seeing all the notes that I’ve made. I suppose it felt… personal?
    Now I don’t write in books anymore, maybe because the books I’ve been recently reading don’t require as much analysis as, say, Othello :’) Also, I tend to listen to more audiobooks and read eBooks (which I do highlight haha ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I guess I want to say that I have nothing against making notes in books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sophie! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it! โค

      See, I WISH I would have read my books for English classes the way I read now! But I also just simply hated reading books for classes. I would rarely ever actually finish them… But I also have to say that not every book ends up being highlighted because something I just don't find anything while reading that I feel the need tab or highlight. It really depends on which book I'm reading. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it is less fun to read books when we are forced to haha. Sometimes I wished I highlighted or dog-eared a book, so I could go back and find a quote I liked. Maybe I will start to do this again ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally get what you mean, but at the same time I LOVE the look of a pile of pristine and new looking books… But old “damaged” books always feel so nice and it tells a whole other story when a book is damaged and dog eared…. So I don’t know where I stand on this issue. Probably somewhere in the middle. Awesome post! It really made me think about how I like my books….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I personally don’t like to write in my books but I can totally see why people like to. I prefer to keep my books looking as nice as I possibly can because when I was a kid I didn’t care about taking care of my things at all so I ended up with books that had the covers hanging off of them and ripped pages ๐Ÿ™ƒ I don’t really mind if I get a book and it’s a little “damaged” as long as it hasn’t been completely destroyed. I think some people get too bent out of shape over how other people treat their own property.

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  9. I really love this post! While I don’t personally write in books, many paperback spines on my shelves are pretty cracked, because I read them so much. That never bothered me at all and while of course pristine books look nice, it’s not a must for me. I try to keep my books in good condition, but signs of use will show most of the times and as long as the book is not falling apart and I can still read the story everything is alright for me ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Caro! I’m happy to hear that!

      I’m pretty much the exact same! I also feel like it’s quite difficult to keep the spines of paperbacks in ‘like new’ condition most of the time! Especially the bigger ones! I usually end up with at least one crack in the spine of a bigger paperback! The smaller one (up to like 400 pages) are usually just fine!


  10. Ha, I only highlight or make notes in my books when it comes to school and my English teacher makes me annotate, but that’s literally it. XD In my experience, it’s always been distracting when I’m reading because I just want to read and do nothing else. But, I do love it when my books are lived in! My Percy Jackson and Harry Potter books are BEAT UP, and I really do need to get new ones, but there’s a nostalgia in having the same copies I had when I first read it when I was ten. โค

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to ABSOLUTELY hate it when my teachers made me highlight and put notes into my books (but I also hated reading for school in general)! Because when I read I like to concentrate on FUN stuff and with the books we would read in class they just weren’t of the fun kind and you were supposed to look for deeper meanings, etc and that’s just not what I’m here. xD

      I love seeing those type of books though! Like, you can 100% tell how much they have been loved and read over the years!

      Liked by 1 person

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