Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Where's Bookman When You Need Him?

The other day, I was reading a library book and a few pages in, I saw that someone had taken a pencil and crossed out the word "was" and wrote in the word "were" in one of the sentences. 

Now, maybe this person was right, I don't know. Grammar is not my strong suit. What bothered me is that this correction made me stop and read the sentence again. It took me out of the story. Some person - not the author - decided to "fix" what was maybe a problem, and ended up causing a bigger issue for me the reader. 

I've wanted to fix things in books. For me, it's more about typos. You know, where the word is "if" and it should clearly be "of," that kind of thing. But I've never done that. Partly it's because I harbor a fear of marking up a library book (anyone else remember that "Seinfeld" episode with Bookman, the library cop?) But it's also because I don't want to do something that will take another reader out of the story. I "fix" the typo in my mind, and I figure other readers will do the same.

This is all just my opinion, of course, and maybe some of you appreciate someone fixing the typo for you, or someone correcting grammar mistakes in your library or used books. But here's what bothered me the most - a few pages later, this same person underlined basically an entire sentence about a character seeing herself reflected in another character's eyes, and then wrote "doubtful" in the margin. I mean, really. Was that necessary? Sheesh. 

Where's Bookman when you need him?


28 comments:

  1. I'd never mark up a library book and certainly never with my own personal opinion of the story. If I think something is doubtful, I'll write it in my review, not in the margin of a book that doesn't belong to me.

    I haven't seen that episode of Seinfeld, but I'll have to look it up.

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    1. That episode is, in my opinion, one of the funniest. Even the clip made me laugh. :)

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  2. I never saw that episode. That's hilarious.

    Okay, write in your own books, but library books? That's not right. Those marks annoy me, and I'd never write in books even my own. The only exception is three books I've taken to specifically analyze writing style--marking things I like and don't like.

    Even then it bothers me that I'm marking up my own books. :)

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    1. I only mark up my own books if it's a book on the writing craft or some other research/nonfiction type of book, but I'm not crazy about doing it either.

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  3. I have noticed A LOT of typos in Ereaders personally. Have you noticed that??

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    1. I haven't read a ton of ebooks so I don't know about that, but I have noticed more typos lately in physical books.

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  4. No, I could never deface a book like that. I wouldn't be able to do it in my own copy, let alone anyone else's!

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    1. I guess the person who did that to my library copy thought they were helping somehow, so they didn't mind writing in it even though it wasn't theirs? I don't know.

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  5. Why would someone do that? That's not just hurting the story, that's defacing the book.

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  6. Hee hee :) Oh Seinfeld. And I agree with Alex, library books are public property. And thank goodness :)

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

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  7. I would never do that in a library book but then I am not at all fanatical about grammar or even spelling errors. I just flow with the writing...Thanks for coming to visit my blog today!

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    1. That was part of my problem - I got taken out of the story's flow! :)

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  8. I would never do that to a library book either! Loved the Bookman clip! I'm excited to see the NY public library soon.

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  9. Oh my gosh I love Bookman!! Even though I can literally say all of the dialogue with them that clip still makes me laugh and laugh each time I see it. How I loved Seinfeld.

    I was raised to never deface a book, my mom thought it was basically a criminal offense, so that has always stuck with me. It's not only rude but also wrong to deface property that doesn't belong to you.

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    1. I hear you, Julie! My husband and I still crack up every single time we see the Bookman episode. :)

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  10. Oh, I love Bookman!

    I could never do that to a book that wasn't my own.

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  11. I definitely fix things in my mind when I read. Especially if I'm in critiquing or editing mode in my own writing. But I wouldn't write in a library book. Gasp! :)

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    1. So many of here are saying we would never write in a library book, but apparently someone somewhere is doing it! :)

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  12. I only write in a book if it is my copy and I know I will be referring back to it a lot. Or - if I am going to be sharing it with a friend who will get a kick out my comments, y'know? But I would never do that to a library copy!

    Maybe the book had been in someone's personal collection before being donated to the library?

    ~Tui
    p.s. Thank you for dropping by my blog the other day! I've been remiss on my re-visiting lately (day job and all that...)

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    1. That's a good point about it being from someone's collection. This book was new, but I'll keep it in mind for next time. :)

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  13. That's just wrong. While grammar mistakes and typos bother me, I wouldn't deface a book.

    I'm reading a library book where someone who checked it out before me left smudge marks from Cheetos or some other cheesy snack. I'm debating on whether to clean it up myself or just tell the librarian when I return it.

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    1. Ugh. If a book is really dirty, I won't take it out or read it. The germaphobe in me kicks in.

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  14. Typos and bad writing take me out of the story enough already, so I wouldn't enjoy seeing that someone had written in the book as well. And leaving comments on the margin? Who does that? Must be our social media culture; some people think the world needs to know every insipid thought that passes through their heads.

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    1. Ha! Good thought about our social media culture.

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