Do you keep your books pristine, or do you, like me, prefer to interact with the text? Do you dog ear and underline, or do you cringe when there is a crease in the binding?
Most of my family members embrace the pristine approach to books. My oldest son has been known to carry novels around sealed in a zip-lock bag to prevent damage. My daughter just told me yesterday that she cannot read my copy of Mosquitoland because I dog-eared too many pages, and a dog-eared page is to her as repulsive as a ripped off cover. In college, my husband wouldn’t even highlight in his text books!
I take care of my books, avoiding stains, tears, and bent covers, but I am a huge fan of “respectful notation”. If I underline, it’s only in pencil, so that any marks can be removed and ink won’t seep through the pages. I often write in the margins, but again, only in pencil. All of this careful note making helps me absorb more of what I’m reading, and it’s fun to look back years later on my thoughts about a novel or textbook. I love this passage from Poetry: A Survivor’s Guide.
Perform marginalia. Reading without writing in the margins is like walking without moving your arms. You can do it and still reach your destination, but it’ll always feel like you’re missing something essential about the activity.
And there’s the Word Nerd Word for the day: marginalia – there’s actually a term for my thoughtful scribbles!
marginalia plural noun from the Latin margin
- marginal notes or embellishments, as in a book
- nonessential items
Marginalia is a relatively new to English; its first known use was in 1819. A related word, marginalize (verb), was first used in 1970. Thank you, Merriam-Webster.
If you like learning about words, visit the Wondrous Words Wednesday meme at Bermuda Onion. There, bloggers share new words they’ve learned or fun words they love!
Word Nerd Confessions
Do you have marginalia in your books? What’s your biggest book pet peeve? Torn covers? Dog ears?
Now, I have to decide if I must buy my daughter her own pristine copy of Mosquitoland. It’s such a good book, I think I will. 😉
Thanks for getting nerdy with me!