Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Bibliophile's Seven Deadly Sins

By popular demand, here is the complete list of the Bibliophile's Seven Deadly Sins:

1. Destruction

This is the BIG sin and however one destroys thine book is how they shall be repaid if they were terrible enough to go to bibliohell. Destruction includes but is not limited to burning, bending back the cover, breaking the spine, tearing out pages, staining pages, dropping the book in water, shredding pages, and running it over with a lawn mower.

2. Sloth

With all these book piles bibliophiles tend to collect, it can be very easy to get behind on one's reading by succumbing to this sin. Getting too far behind can result in drowning in the book pile, or in very extreme cases, being devoured by the mass of angry, neglected books never to be seen or heard from ever again.

3. Marking of pages

The defacing of a book with a writing implement is forbidden. The one exception to this rule is in the case of getting your books signed by the author. Therefore, I will not be confined to a single room and forced to write every single word from the Bible on the walls for all eternity for getting my copies of The Orphan's Tales duology signed by Catherynne Valente this past weekend. When writing the text, every time a mistake is made, the damned must erase everything and begin all over again.

4. Disorganization

This includes two big no-nos: alphabetical impurity and the mixing of kinds. Books by authors shall be kept together in alphabetical order with all the books in a series in the proper order. Mixing of kinds is only permitted in cases where greater sins would be committed by keeping hardcovers and paperbacks apart, such as if you have part of a series in each. Committing disorganization will lead to book filing in a library containing sentient, hyperactive books that hate to stay on the shelf forevermore.

5. Skimming

Thou shalt not skim but must read every word. Those who become distracted and miss a word must reread the same paragraph over and over until every word is caught and committed to memory - or spend their entire afterlife reading and rereading The Eye of Argon without skimming a single word.

6. Spoilage

No spoiling the best parts of books for others. The penalty for this sin is being visited by annoying imps who taunt you by telling you about what happens in all the books you never got to read before you ended up in bibliohell, especially when the new book in one of your favorite series comes out.

7. Prejudice

Do not judge a book by its cover. Or its genre. Or anything else, except perhaps, in very special circumstances, its author. A life of book prejudice will result in an eternity spent reading books with the most horrifyingly embarrassing covers in public places - without even the consolation that the contents of the book do not match its cover.


Memory said...

I'm guilty of sins 3, 4 and, in a few notable cases, 5. I am properly ashamed.

Kristen said...

Memory - That's ok, I'm guilty of 4 myself due to lack of space. It drives me nuts, though; all my DVDs and video games are alphabetized but not the most important thing - the books!

I've been guilty of 5 on occasion but normally only with schoolbooks when I had to have it read by a certain time. Otherwise, I usually end up reading and rereading the same paragraph over and over again until it sinks in. I don't want to end up reading The Eye of Argon for all of eternity, after all!

Harry Markov said...

Oh, forgive me Biblio-priestess for I have sinned and boy have I been sinning and sinning and sinning. Phew! I never destroyed books, but god am I a cover art snob. I have a very prickly aesthetics sense and when cover art doiesn't live up to my expectations it's the end of my relationship with it.

And I skip with boring boring books... Not to mention number 2.

Saibot said...

I'm guilty of numbers 2, 4 and 7. I guess I'll suffer in bibliohell.

Anonymous said...

Heya Saibot,
I got popped on 2, 4 and 7 also. I was in the depths of the BiblioTemple when I heard a deep, resounding voice, and it said, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land, and restore their books to new or like-new condition."

Harry Markov said...

@ PeterWilliam: This is disturbingly comforting for a religious angle. I am really interested in a religion based on worshipping books.

ediFanoB said...

thank you so much for this post.
I relieved that I'm not the only sinner.
I'm guilty of 2 (need to read more or to buy less *giggle*), 4 (due to space problems) and partially 7 (great covers ensnare me).
My conclusion after reading all comments:
The average sins are Sloth and Disorganization.

John said...

@PeterWilliam: Any god that can only manage like-new condition seems like a bit of a letdown. I'd think new would be entry level, how about autographed collectible editions? (Clearly, all heavenly books are first edition single printings. Not sure about the gold leaf. That seems gaudy.)

John said...

And no, 'gaudy' is not a pun. I'm not that mean.

orannia said...

*GULP* I'm guilty of 2 (what true bibliophile isn't?) and 4 (although more because all of my books are in boxes [until I can lay out my library], and although I've tried to keep books together it is hard when certain series are ongoing), 5 and 7...


And thank you for the list Kristen - I love it!

Anonymous said...

I am no guilty of any of those sins. This makes me proud. The nearest I get is #2, but only 1% of my books are unread, so I can't really say I'm that far behind.

Kristen said...

Harry - May the Bibliogods grant you mercy and forgiveness. I think #2 is an issue most of us have. We may not necessarily be truly slothful but the ratio of books we have to books we can actually read in the next few months may be a bit off... even if we diligently read each day. I can't look at my to-read list on Goodreads after making this list for it gives me great fear in my heart that the book pile shall devour me never to be seen or heard from again.

Ignoring cover art can be tough. There are some really horrifying covers out there...

Saibot - Right there with you; I'm an unworthy bibliosinner guilty of #2 and #4 and at times #7.

PeterWilliam - LOL, that's heartening to know.

Harry - If the Biblio religion takes off, does that mean I get to be a prophet? ;)

ediFanoB - Yes, it does seem that 2 and 4 are the big ones, along with a little bit of 7. I hear you on the space problems - that's the major reason I'm guilty of #4 (not that the Bibliogods will accept that as an excuse). And who can help buying all the new books they hear about? What if you forget about them? What if you go to read them someday and find they are no longer in print and you cannot find them?

John - The Bibliogods are not yet widely worshiped so they don't have that much power yet. Maybe if enough people begin following them, those limited edition autographed book powers will come into play.

Orannia - Yes, #2 is the big sin that most bibliophiles are pretty guilty of. I'm still trying to avoid looking at my Goodreads to-read list...

Ellira - Having only 1% of your books unread is doing pretty good; I'm sure the Bibliogods are pleased. (Well, I guess that depends on just how many books you own... 1% could still be a rather large number if you own enough books...)

ediFanoB said...

your questions are so true. In case we do not any longer buy and read books something must have gone terribly wrong....

Harry Markov said...

Yes, that means you are a prophet and I have to confess that seeing how many books I have to struggle with discourages me some times and I need a few days with no reading at all to replenish that zest.

Kristen said...

ediFanoB - There are already far too many books I want to read that I'll probably never get to since they're out of print. By buying books faster than I can read them, I'm just trying to prevent that from happening even more.

It's a good excuse. ;)

Harry - A book fast?

James said...

Two, four, and seven are my sins. My to-read stack likely numbers over fifty unread books, some of which have been floating the stack for the better part of a few years. My lack of sufficient shelving means I am utterly disorganized, with books stacked in disarray on my nightstand (over sixty), in piles on the floor and around the house, and in random placement on the few shelves I actually have.

I have not sinned as severely for number seven, but I have been known to judge a book by its cover or its author a time or several.

Kristen said...

James - Welcome to the club for those who struggle with #2 and #4 and occasionally #7! Lack of sufficient shelving for all these books we accumulate seems to be a big problem with falling into the trap of sin #2.

Benjamin said...

Great list, Kristen. Thanks!

I'm definitely guilty of 2. A combination of sloth plus buying more books than I can possibly read. I'm occasionally guilty of 5, but only when the book is boring so it's not really my fault. Speaking of 7, I do appreciate a nice cover. Ultimately, that won't stop me from reading a book.