Metro-East Living

Never dog-ear the pages — unless you happen to own the book


When you hear someone talking about a dog-eared copy, as of a favorite book, it usually is accompanied by the words battered, worn, well-thumbed, shabby or time-worn.

Usually the condition is a result of dog-earing, turning down a corner of a page in a book to mark your place. Others may use dog-earing to mark a favorite quotation or something they want to go back to.

Opinion on the practice ranges from “never do it” to “who cares?”

Of course, there are lots of opinions on the Internet. In a survey conducted by, 56 percent of people said they never dog-ear a book. Another 17 percent said they rarely do it. Twenty-five percent said they only dog-ear their own books and only 3 percent said they’d do it to any book.

I don’t know about the veracity of the survey since the numbers add up to 101 percent. But it would seem to suggest that most people would never dream of defacing a book in that manner.

I, on the other hand, will dog-ear almost any book I own, particularly paperbacks.

I have tried using bookmarks, the wimpy way to mark your place. But even if they do stay in the book, when I take them out to read again, they mysteriously disappear, perhaps going to the land of lost socks.

I also try to remember the page number where I stopped reading but that is hopeless. Usually I can’t even remember where I left the book. And people freak out if you simply lay the book upside down, afraid you will break its spine.

If you mark a page correctly with a tiny bend and shut the book carefully, a dog-ear never fails.

Apparently dog-earing has a long history. The phrase dates back at least to 1767, according to the dictionary.

Amazingly, there are different ways to dog-ear. Some people go from the bottom of the page (or so it says on the Internet, and it’s never wrong, of course.) I have never met one of these people. It seems strange to me.

People bookmark using sizes from a tiny corner to half a page. Some people fold pages in old books to make origami art. It’s kind of an extreme dog-earing.

Like I said, I don’t mess with someone else’s books. And when I’m done, I bend the corners back. The book will press them out and probably no one will ever know. Unless you tell them.

Just my opinion.