Monthly Archives: August 2014

Writing in Margins

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This kind of writing in books is so very different from writing inscriptions. It was appalling to me to find that people actually wrote in margins, crossed out printed text of the author’s, and put their own words in their place! Sacrilege! This is the very last kind of writing in books that I learned to do.

These past few years I began to follow suit, but only in books I have bought, not borrowed books, be them library or a friend’s. My reading habits have changed, too. I’m reading more non-fiction books, many that require major thinking. So this is the place to respond…..in the margin. Because the word is printed does not mean I have to agree with it. Sometimes I agree with a passion and just have to take note! Placing my small, printed notes in the margin will attract my attention when I read that book again. Who knows? My opinion may change the second time I read it.

I’m not likely to re-read a novel, except for a few chosen classics that have different messages for me as I’ve grown and understand more.
As for buying a used book with notes in the margin……I love the chance to read what someone else has thought about the author’s words. However, I cannot abide a book with underlining or highlighting!!! That, for me, is strictly for studying and I don’t want to read someone else’s book that is so corrupted. Of course I do it myself now as the photo shows you. My writing group is working its way through the Artist’s Rule by Christine Valters Paintner. I find sometimes I do not agree with her statements and sometimes I am very impressed by them.

These books are kept on my shelf and will not go to the used book store or be donated to the library. They are not intended for re-use for others. It would feel like giving my fingerprints away.

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More on Writing in Books

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My hardcover copy of The Crofter and the Laird by John McPhee, first printing in 1970 is also inscribed. To Mary Scoville with affectionate good wishes, Frances Haynes, it states. Somehow I feel that Frances had chosen this book especially, over many other books, like a good friend who really knows you would do. Maybe Mary has a Scottish heritage or spent a lovely visit to Scotland. The name Scoville originated in Cornwall, England and has a registered coat of arms. Peoples of the United Kingdom tended to move around from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and England so it is easily possible.
The inscription makes the book personal beyond what the author accomplished. A treasure is created by the mere touch of a pen that reveals thoughtfulness. It is an addition that doesn’t come with the buying of a new book. It is also a good writing prompt. Can’t you just create a great story around the inscription inside a book?
James Graves has black and white sketches depicting scenes McPhee wrote about. Remember when publishers did that? It gave an artist a helping hand in getting their work and name into print. The reader benefitted, too. I still remember the pleasure my Nancy Drew books, with pictures, gave me when I was growing up. My Nancy Drew books came from the school library but I wonder how many an Aunt set a reader on fire with an inscribed Nancy Drew book.

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