Do you mark up your books?
Do you underline great sentences? Write questions in the margins? Make your own commentary on the text?
When I was younger I wouldn’t have dared. Books should be kept as pristine as possible. But then in high school I had a class where we had to highlight things in our books and underline others, we were encouraged to write our own marginalia wherever we were struck with a thought.
And I was surprised to find that I loved it. (Note: This was all in non-fiction books. I can’t really imagine writing in a fiction story.)
While looking into this idea, I ran across a quote in a letter by C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves in which he describes how much he enjoys of properly inking a page:
To enjoy a book like that thoroughly I find I have to treat it as a sort of hobby and set about it seriously. I begin by making a map on one of the end-leafs: then I put in a genealogical tree or two. Then I put a running headline at the top of each page: finally I index at the end all the passages I have for any reason underlined. I often wonder—considering how people enjoy themselves developing photos or making scrap-books—why so few people make a hobby of their reading in this way. Many an otherwise dull book which I had to read have I enjoyed in this way, with a fine-nibbed pen in my hand: one is making something all the time and a book so read acquires the charm of a toy without losing that of a book.
Well, I’ll just say right now that inking a book is just one of many things that C.S. Lewis did on a whole different level than I do.
Then I realized that marking in books goes so much farther than just writing in them.
- Do you dog-ear pages?
- Fold pages completely down?
- Do you bend the covers back out of the way?
- Do you break the spine so it lays open?
Personally, I will write in non-fiction books, and occasionally dog-ear pages in the same. But that’s it. I have a really hard time spreading a paperback far enough to crease the spine, and books I’ve read many a time (Pride and Prejudice, I’m looking at you…) still have very nice covers and smooth spines.
But I’ve known people who roll the cover back out of the way and break the spine every twenty pages so it lays wide open. When they’re done the books looks like it’s been through the apocalypse.
I believe they call it being “broken in.”
How about you? Do you keep all your books immaculate? Do you write in books? If so, when? Do you lovingly break it in until the resembles some sort of paper flower fanning out in all directions?
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If you’re a Book Marker, how much of one are you?
Feel free to comment below and explain!