Not only do I write in books, I love writing in books. Some of you are, without a doubt, putting your hands to your chest and sighing a yes. Some of you are making ugly faces. Tell me, which one are you?
One of my favorite activities is to skim the pages of my books and rediscover passages that I thought pretty, insightful, wrenching, or masterfully crafted.
Sometimes, when I’m reading or writing, I remember a vague connection to something I’ve read and I search through my book for the underlined passage, or line, or page. And things click. Sometimes that’s how I give birth to a reference.
Sometimes I read a marginal note that I had written and it’s like reliving that moment of exhilaration all over again. Sometimes my interpretations change, but I enjoy seeing myself transform on the page. I was never one to scream “I don’t understand!” on the edges of my pages. I only write what I feel I understand. I write or underline what I think will add value for me. Yes, for me alone. My books will be with me till death do us part.
If you are of the ugly face making sort, then you may want to turn away from the following images.
All of these passages I was able to find with quick skimming. A Google search for quotes will not get me closer to that which I hold in my hand. These quotes, underlined by my hand, mean something to me.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re looking up quotes by a particular author, the same ones show up over and over again on every website?
It’s because people are recycling. No one wants to go back through an entire novel to find another special quote (because they never underline anything). So they search online and up comes a list of quotes by Mark Twain. Three people assembled that list in 1982 and uploaded to the web. And now they regurgitate it one more time on social media and Look at me, I’m a book reader.
Maybe I’m getting too hostile. I love debates. You should talk more, though.
I went through an old English literature textbook one week just for fun and annotated An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope, one of my favorite writers. I wanted to exercise my brain as if I were in college again. Unfortunately, my mind hasn’t consistently worked as hard since leaving college. Because I didn’t want to accept that as a reality of life, I did this. It was a great exercise and I truly recommend it to all of you.
I love that I can go through a lengthy poem like this one and be able to refresh myself of all the key points and read the parts that I feel like reading.
When I record what I love, what makes me burn, pause, reread, burn, that is a treasure of the highest value on my shelf. It is one way to make the most out of this gift of reading.
If you’re interested in hearing more sides on this topic, here is a link. Personally, I learned about a new reason for why some don’t approve of writing in books, and there’s a decent supply of reading out there if you’d like to hear even more.