Do You Guys Write in Your Books?

 

marginalia“Most intelligent people do, Jason.” So I was told by another Member, when I said that I don’t. I guess it goes back to my schooling, when we were told that Very Bad Things would happen if we defiled the holy works of Wiley or Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Also, I always considered it kind of cranky: my grandmother would talk back to the author in her marginal notes (exclamation points were plentiful) and I always wanted to tell her, “You know, he can’t actually hear you…”

But it’s undeniable that these things can enrich the reading experience. Marginalia can be a source of knowledge not only about the text but about the context.

So: have you ever found any little gems in a used book? Do you go back and re-read your books and notes? What have you garnered from that?

Published in General, Literature
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 107 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    I’ve never done it. But I like Kindle’s options to add notes, highlight text, and add labeled bookmarks — all of which are easy to undo, unlike real scribbles.

    • #1
  2. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Aaron Miller:I’ve never done it. But I like Kindle’s options to add notes, highlight text, and add labeled bookmarks — all of which are easy to undo, unlike real scribbles.

    So this is exactly what I was going to say.  Actually, I have been known to use Kindle’s “my clippings” feature to excess.

    • #2
  3. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Nope, never. I never got in the habit of highlighting either.

    Instead, I would read the book in front of my computer, and write point-form notes in a txt file any time a pertinent fact (that would probably be on the exam) caught my eye.

    • #3
  4. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    I also, for some reason, had the impression that you were never supposed to write in books (probably something in my own head because it couldn’t be undone). I too though highlight and make notes in the kindle app. I really like being able to track down quotes and sections I really liked that way.

    • #4
  5. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    I do not write in books, it just feels like vandalism.  I make take notes, or write up a summary so I can remember it later, but I do not write in books.

    • #5
  6. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Jason Rudert: “Most intelligent people do, Jason.”

    I don’t. And now I know why.

    • #6
  7. AUMom Member
    AUMom
    @AUMom

    The times I have written in books I have found I can never go back and read what the author intended. My attention gets caught up in my notes. I no longer take notes in books. I write them down in an accompanying journal.

    • #7
  8. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    AUMom:The times I have written in books I have found I can never go back and read what the author intended. My attention gets caught up in my notes. I no longer take notes in books. I write them down in an accompanying journal.

    I may have to borrow that idea!

    • #8
  9. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    The one exception might be a note reading, “Buy more bacon.” Always topical, even profound. Never outdated.

    • #9
  10. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    I write notes in margins. I underline and highlight. I also dog-ear pages and apply post-it notes. It would seem I am a book abuser.

    • #10
  11. user_184884 Coolidge
    user_184884
    @BrianWolf

    I always wrote in books and highlighted and the like and really enjoy the Kindle features that others have referred too.  In school I never wrote in text books if we turned in a clean text book at my school we got some small amount of money back on the book and my parents let me keep that money.  My text books were completely mark free every time.

    I also write in and mark up my Bible often.  I would say though that I rarely write real notes or comments almost all my mark ups are about my memory or marking out an important point.  I put some notes in but not very many.

    I have gone back and reviewed the mark ups in my books and found them very handy and usually useful.  I occasionally can’t figure out why I made a mark or note but for the most part they help reabsorb a work quickly.

    • #11
  12. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    No, I do not write in my books.

    I did find something very interesting in a library book last year.  I had apparently been used as a bookmark.  It was a letter written by a mother to her son on the day after Eisenhower’s election in 1952, discussing the campaign and her work at a polling station.  It included a small newspaper clipping about Eisenhower’s victory.

    • #12
  13. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    No, absolutely not.  It’s vandalism, even when they’re your own.

    • #13
  14. blank generation member Inactive
    blank generation member
    @blankgenerationmember

    No.  I even abhor cracking the binding.

    • #14
  15. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    I use a yellow highlighter on the screen of my Kindle. After a few books, though, the screen is all yellow.

    • #15
  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Yes I do (though not as much as I used to, since it’s harder to write small than it used to be).

    Mainly because I teach myself better when I allow myself to mark up a book real good. This includes arguing with the author, or even agreeing with him with a note from my own experience. If it’s a math book, I’ll write omitted proofs, or my own examples, in the margins. If it’s a book of poems, I might diagram a particularly interesting poem like I learned to do in college. I do this to bibles, too.

    I do return to many books again and again, and find notes and markings helpful for locating passages of interest. About half my OPs here (and over half of the good ones, I think) started as a marginal note somewhere.

    The only books I don’t mark up are works of (non-poetic) fiction. Unless they’re in a foreign language. I’m not fluent enough in any foreign language to get through serious literature without more self-teaching.

    • #16
  17. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    My husband and I enjoy reading each others’ marginalia – that is, when we can physically read each others’ handwriting :-)

    • #17
  18. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Zafar:No, absolutely not. It’s vandalism, even when they’re your own.

    Kind of cool to discover at age 60 I am a vandal. Now to decide – shall I be a Jet or a Shark? Suggestions, anyone?

    • #18
  19. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Songwriter:

    Zafar:No, absolutely not. It’s vandalism, even when they’re your own.

    Kind of cool to discover at age 60 I am a vandal. Now to decide – shall I be a Jet or a Shark? Suggestions, anyone?

    Either one is fine.  Just be sure to steal the handles.

    • #19
  20. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:My husband and I enjoy reading each others’ marginalia (Snip)

    (in the voice of Shatner) Must. Not. Violate… CoC…  :)

    On a side note, I really like the word “marginalia”.

    • #20
  21. 1967mustangman Inactive
    1967mustangman
    @1967mustangman

    Songwriter:I write notes in margins. I underline and highlight. I also dog-ear pages and apply post-it notes. It would seem I am a book abuser.

    You are a monster

    • #21
  22. 1967mustangman Inactive
    1967mustangman
    @1967mustangman

    I bought a book off Amazon called “Royal Panoply” that is a brief survey of the British monarchy.  After a couple of pages of quibblings with the author the previous owner wrote THIS IS POP HISTORY AND NOT A DETAILED RECORD!!!!!! and then were silent.  Which is sad because I was enjoying their protestations.

    • #22
  23. user_357321 Inactive
    user_357321
    @Jordan

    Yes, lots.

    Mostly when I look back I wonder what I was thinking at the time, but occasionally I wrote something quite good.

    I think it’s good to write in books because you engage with the ideas.  Sure, the author can’t hear you….

    Or can they?

    Are we just torturing dead authors by writing in their marginalia?  Can they read it do you think?  Do they think we’re idiots too with our stupid commentary?  Aristotle, Plato, Hesiod, Homer, and Virgil are gonna beat the crap out of me when I die.  Are they just laughing at our ignorance from beyond the grave?

    My God what have I done?!

    • #23
  24. user_998621 Member
    user_998621
    @Liz

    Classics major, comprehensive exams plus department oral inquisition exam, so yes, I have often written in books.  It is a good aid to visual memory, and a simple way to keep things organized.  I don’t do it much, if ever, anymore, though.  I have never done it when reading for pleasure.

    I was reading to my older girls the story of Cyrus’s birth in Herodotus recently, and I loved reading what I had written in the margins.

    [edited for idiotic spelling error]

    • #24
  25. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    never write in my books.  But I do keep a stack of 3×5 cards around for jotting down notes, and I will admit to dog ears.

    • #25
  26. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    I bet Claire writes her notes in invisible ink, being a secret agent and all.

    • #26
  27. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    lesserson:

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:My husband and I enjoy reading each others’ marginalia

    (in the voice of Shatner) Must. Not. Violate… CoC… :)

    On a side note, I really like the word “marginalia”.

    Yes. You seem to!

    • #27
  28. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Nope.  It’s never even occurred to me to do it.

    • #28
  29. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    It really depends on the book, and on the book’s ownership.  There are some in which I write, and others which don’t get that benefit.  The only ones I do write in are mine.  Anyone who borrows them get the benefit (or lack thereof) of my insight.

    • #29
  30. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    Vance Richards:

    Jason Rudert: “Most intelligent people do, Jason.”

    I don’t. And now I know why.

    Great quip!  dt

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.