When I have a book that is especially inspirational to me, I write all over it. I underline, circle, bracket, and write out thoughts about certain passages. But I almost never dogear a page. For some reason, it seems wrong to damage a book in that way, while putting my pen to the paper seems like no damage at all. Sometimes I think writing in my books is almost like marking my territory, because these are the books I am the least likely to share with others. They become so private that I am far more likely to buy a friend a copy of the book than lend them my own.
I had a roommate in college whose religion taught her to respect all texts. One day, a textbook was on the floor of our cluttered dorm room and another friend actually stepped on it. My roommate gasped loudly and froze, then said a quick prayer of apology.
I have always been fascinated by this behavior, and wondered at our own disregard of all tomes. But today I was forced to wonder about a different way of viewing novels. I have never heard of "altered books," but apparently it is a thriving art. I found this altered books blog, which showed several examples of people turning the pages of novels into visual poems of a sort. I find myself less sad than completely intrigued, and also a bit interested in trying it myself...until I think about what book I would use. And my mind goes blank, because I can't actually imagine physically marking in a book in a way that covered up an author's words. I'm definitely curious to find out more about this trend.