Thursday, November 15, 2007
Booking Through Thursday: Perservatives
Today’s question comes from Conspiracy-Girl: How many of us write notes in our books? Are you a Footprint Leaver or a Preservationist?
I love the image the label Footprint Leaver leaves in my mind. What a great concept! Or is it? I occasionally come across a used book that has a hand written dedication inside and those types of footprints I never mind. Those kind warm my heart. I am less than thrilled, however, when I come across a book that is littered with margin notes, underlining and highlighting. It would be too easy for my attention to stray to those comments and absorb them into my view or interpretation of the book. I would rather approach what I read with a clear mind, able to form my own opinion and without distraction. And yet, if the book had belonged to someone like my mother or grandfather for instance, someone I am or was connected to, I take a different view. In a case like this, it would be a part of my history, my own life. I would love to travel with my grandfather into a literary world he had visited before. There's a something almost magical about an experience like that, being able to share in his thoughts and perhaps pick out what stood out most for him at the time he read the book. He died when I was a teenager and there is so much I wish I knew about him today. Or, how exciting it would be to see what my mother thought of a book when she was a teenager, a book that has faded from her memory all these years later! As you can see, I am of two minds on this topic.
Myself? I tend to be a preservationist at heart. I prefer to leave the margins of the books I am reading clean and empty. I do like to sometimes take notes or mark a particular passage, however, and in desperate times when no paper is to be found, no post its or page markers handy, I will pull out my pencil and lightly mark an arrow in the margin pointing to the beginning of the passage I want to remember. Tiny brackets will denote the beginning and the end. That is as far as I go. The idea is that I can go back and carefully erase my markings as if I was never there. If I remember. Sometimes I forget.
I do occasionally write in a book to mark when and where I received it, almost always in pencil, but this too is rare and only when I cannot get to my computer to log the book in. I also have been known to write a dedication in a book now and then. My parents are partial to this practice, while my husband detests it. A lot depends on who I am giving the book to and the reasons behind my gift.
I am not the kind of person who gasps in horror at the thought of someone writing in his or her books. We each have our own style, our own preferences. I think that if a person is planning to trade, give away or re-sell a book, the less writing, the better. If the book is a loaner of any kind, there should be a law against marking in a book unless it is agreed upon by the borrower and the owner that it is okay. If it is a book in your own collection, then by all means, write away if that is what you need to do to get the most out of your reading experience.
(Exemption: College text books were an entirely different matter for me all those years ago. Highlighting and margin notes were used freely as necessary).