The 7 Deadly Sins of Reading

What’s the worst crime you can commit against a book? Have a pet book peeve that really makes you cringe? Think we should start a Prevention of Cruelty to Books organization?

When I asked this question of you on Facebook and Twitter, I got so many creative and twisted responses (some of them confessions) that I’ll be doing a second post in this series next week. Thanks for your delightful/horrifying ideas.

Time for some indictments–and maybe some more confession–as we uncover the 7 Deadly Sins of Reading.


#1: Dog-ear pages instead of using a bookmark
Ever watched someone start to turn a page–then go back, lick their finger, and crush down the corner of the paper? Ever give you the feeling that one of your bones is breaking? 
Be kind to books. Use a bookmark.

#2: Read a series out of order

Picked it up on #2, then skipped to #5, started #7? No wonder you can’t keep track of the main character’s love interests. 
#3: Write in it 

This is one that used to give me the gag reaction before I went to college. Deface a book?! It would be like unleashing a can of spray paint on the National Gallery of Art! Now, thanks to a couple of ink-stained professors, writing in my books is one of my favorite things to do (especially with Shakespeare). I underline my favorite passages and write comments in the margin–it’s like having a conversation with the author that I can add to every time I pick it up.
#4: Skip chapters

Skip the “boring” dialogue? Cut the blah-blah-blah and get on with the story? It would be like skipping the songs in a musical!

#5: Tear pages out (or let your rabid bunny do it)
Isn’t this picture just terrifying? 
#6: Read the ending first

Or, even worse, read it and spoil it for others. You have to go through the story to get to the end, just like the characters do. No peeking!

#7: The worst of them all: don’t read

Joseph Brodsky wrote, “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” Whatever you do to your books, there’s no worse crime than putting them behind glass and letting them collect dust.

Not to say that you shouldn’t admire them, however. Just treat them nicely.

Which “sins” would you add to this list? Which ones have you committed? Check back next week for “5 Gruesome Ways for Books to Die”…