I'm currently reading Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman. I'm enjoying it but I'm not even halfway through. Fadiman suggests there are two types of book lovers. There are courtly lovers who treasure the physical properties as much as the intellectual content of a book. As such they are utterly horrified by dog-earing, laying a book face-down and splayed open to save a spot, writing in margins, and other forms of mutilation (Fadiman even recounts the story of a friend who would not use overly thick bookmarks). There are also carnal lovers for whom marking up a page with one's own notes, carrying a book into a sauna, or even tearing out pages are expressions of consuming love unconcerned with maintaining the physical integrity of the book since it is only the ideas contained therein that matter.
Fadiman puts both feet firmly in the camp of being a carnal book lover as she describes the indelicacies of her treatment of bound volumes. I am breathless at the carnage perpetrated upon her books. Clearly, it would seem I am a courtly bibliophile. Since infancy my children have been instructed in the proper care of books and they have had an extensive library at their disposal. When they took books from the public library the rules became even stricter as to what was permitted. Diana herself can tell you the story of months worth of drying the dishes for money to replace the library book she took to the tree house and left in a puddle overnight when she was about seven years old (At Chez Lime personal books were permitted in the yard but library books remained indoors).
That said, I have to confess my own carnal tendencies toward a few of my books which bear considerable underlining and margin notes. As for Diana, even though she is a heavy underliner and note taker, I do believe she would recoil at the notion of ripping a page out of any book. I would posit a third type of book lover. The common book lover recognizes the value of physical integrity as a courtly lover but does not consume the book in the same destructive orgy as a carnal lover. The common lover merely leaves his or her marks upon the book in a way that makes it even more personal and more beloved.
So now I ask all of you. Are you courtly, common, or carnal lovers of books? Do different books warrant different types of love? What are the marks of your love or the efforts you take to avoid marks out of love?