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Here's an article by Mortimer Adler, entitled How to Mark a Book.

Oh, my. It brought a rush of blood to my head to even think about this. But I found myself nodding along with his ideas! Agree or disagree, it's worth a read and a think! Here's a snippet:

Confusion about what it means to own a book leads people to a false reverence for paper, binding, and type - a respect for the physical thing - the craft of the printer rather than the genius of the author. They forget that it is possible for a man to acquire the idea, to possess the beauty, which a great book contains, without staking his claim by pasting his bookplate inside the cover. Having a fine library doesn't prove that its owner has a mind enriched by books; it proves nothing more than that he, his father, or his wife, was rich enough to buy them.

There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best-sellers-unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns wood pulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books-a few of them read through, most of them clipped into but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many-every one of them dog-eared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled in from front to back. (This man owns books.)


Nice link, MamaT. For me, it depends on the type of book. I think I have more highlighters than pens so all my RCIA study books are colored and marked to pieces, but I haven't been able to bring myself to mark up my Bibles, even the cheap ones.

Do you mark up fiction? Sometimes, if I like a passage a lot, I'll highlight it, but usually it's the non-fiction that gets the rough treatment. :)

Hmmmmm. Any time I've marked up a book (besides a textbook) I've regretted it; when I go back to reread I'm distracted by my own notations (and often embarrassed at how insipid they are)

my bibles are much more colorful and ink-stained than my fiction, but my fiction has many more bendy pages.

peony - i understand where you're coming from. my notes in my earliest copy of catcher in the rye make me cringe!

The insipid and banal notations in my books' margins are a continual reminder that I was never so bright as everyone around me assured me that I was. I like have that crash course in humility every time I open a well loved bit of philosophy or economics.

Wow look at me, I mark in books! I'm cool!

jayson, you're cool even if you don't mark up books.



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