The pathophysiology that may ensue leaves a growing mass of cellulose in the stomach that expands by accretion and becomes in time too big to leave the stomach and enter the more narrow aperture of the gastrointestinal tract beyond. This ball of cellulose and mucus is known as a Phytobezoar. A little like a wet snowball that rolls down the hill getting bigger and bigger until it can no longer enter the narrow mountain pass and obstructs any further travelers. Suffice to say this Phytobezoar is a result of a neurotic disorder and becomes a surgical emergency.
My dad never ate enough that accumulated, but as i reckoned back to my own life at home and his habit as I studied interesting psychiatric disorders in medical school such as this and the equally colorful Trichobezoar (a Hair ball) , engendered in the same manner by eating your own hair, equally indigestible.
My dad rarely read books so our books were unmarked. One always knew when he had read the paper or magazine however from the absent corners. It was like the neighborhood dog idly pissing against the tree without much thought, marking the corner of the neighborhood. or Kilroy, here for a visit, marking with chalk an a wall without much point except to say that he was there.
I confess I did the same corner munching as my father from time to time, embarrassingly, especially with books, tearing off a corner and chewing it as I ingested the material and its content. It offended my friends if I had borrowed their book. Cellulose from paper is one thing but wooden matches, toothpicks, popsicle sticks and other wood and cardboard pieces are worse. Human beings are not beavers.The medical diagnostic term "Pica" describes the activity madness of paint and dirt eating as a somewhat prevalent neurotic disorder in institutional patients. I am proud to say, at least I only chewed and ingested literature but, that's lipstick on the pig, paper also qualifies as the madness of eating the describable indigestible.
When I first married the pianist she was horrified to see the ingestion of the corners of her books as I sought to read and ingest her interesting material. I realized then it was a form of marking, claiming ownership, territorial affirmation , however warped, but unconsciously and innocently done. A habit idly acquired is easily dispensed with in the interest of literary harmony when love holds sway. I have never gone back to that bad habit.
When my son, as a grownup became a bibliophile and had his own library I often read his books and carefully avoided eating the corners but often bent open the book spines for easier reading on the tighter new books. Again I was castigated for my destructive book tendencies. I am careful now to eat candy or popcorn not paper when I read and strain to read newish books obliquely when semi-opened. I want to be good and avoid the sins of the father!