Scrawling in books
I sometimes commit sacrilege.
I make notes in my books. I scrawl in the margins. I underline important
sentences. Sacrilege! It horrifies some people that someone can do that to a
Why do I do it?
- I want to pay more attention when reading. Keeping on the look-out for
paragraphs that draw my attention makes me pay attention. And for instance
numbering items (when the author hasn’t done it despite telling he’s going
to make five points) helps me pick out the author’s intention better.
- I use my books. At least, some of them. I have several books I re-read from
time to time. Often I won’t take the time to read them in full, but I just
browse the paragraphs I put a line next to in the margin or sentences that I
underlined. A very handy way to get more mileage out of a book.
- They’re my books. I’m legally allowed to set them on fire or to chop them to
little pieces or use them as toilet paper. So don’t start complaining about
a bit of ink I’ve put on some pages.
You know what’s real sacrilege? Making notes in your bible :-) One of my bible
study group members shuddered at the thought of not keeping it as tidy as
possible. Well, mine is missing part of the cover, has notes in it and has
lots of marks from been carried across town in many different kinds of
bags… Sacrilege or usage? Both attitudes are fine, I think.
The kinds of notes that I make:
- I put a vertical line in the outer margin of paragraphs to mark them as
important or funny or worthy to read a second time.
- I underline individual sentences that strike me.
- If I especially want to remember something, I simply make the horizontal or
vertical line thicker.
- I write short words in the margin to trigger me. For instance “c.s.r.” to
remind me that I saw what the author is describing in my student club once.
- I put slightly longer thoughts at the top or the bottom of the page with an
arrow to the part of the page where it belongs to. People that want to keep
their books clean will really hate those inelegant arrows :-)
Maybe it is time for you to start making notes in your books?