I lone a book to a friend and smear a few places with the cherry pie I am eating so that she will read comfortably. I fold a page at the corner. I smudge the ink.
I want to know that you have lived in a book. Smudges, smears of food, flagged pages, underlined passageways, highlighted words, circled phrases, creased spines, fanned chapters, notes in the margins, and oh the hidden agendas that we derive from books. Whips of innuendo, delights that you read over and over, favorite scenes, snippets of memorized dialog, questions to drum up sweat in the pondering, and relative texts to consider.
Yes, I am the messy reader, doing so with abandon. Borrowing a text is impossible, as I will not return it in the same condition. My books have even become crinkled and warped to double their size on occasion from my habit of reading in a swimming pool during the summer months.
I give with the same rules. If you borrow a book from me, I expect you to return it with smudges, crumbs, tears, warps, and more. Otherwise, you certainly didn’t adventure far with the book, nor did you eat anything delicious while reading. Eat and read. Adventure and read. Read and go. Read and slurp. Snort-laugh and read something funny. Read and cry about something that deserves your tears and interest. Explore and read. Mainly, don’t fear books and pages and words. Any snob who ever made you feel like you should be intimidated by some paper was a really good snob, and now is the time to defeat that snobbery. Words and paper can be serious, yes, but also fun and playful. Even the serious parts need some smears of cherry pie. Books need and feed on adventure as much as you need books. Feed. Read. See. Do. Enjoy to the fullest and show the traces of your enjoyment, in a book.