I find myself writing in the margins of books again, something I’d stopped doing for many years. I’m not sure why I stopped writing in the books I own; probably something about decreasing the resell value. I got over that notion when I donated a lot of books I owned five years ago.
Two books I read recently by Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, have compelled me to write comments in the margins. These comments range from “wow” to “we’ve been hoodwinked” to “makes sense to me” and other such grumblings. Exclamation points and other punctuation marks and doodles abound.
Several pages are folded over at the corners with an arrow drawn on them. On other pages virtually all the sentences are underlined because the words struck me as so profound and I want to find the passages again easily. I plan to send several friends the section on the 36 ingredients that go into making McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. It may not move them to stop ordering them for their kids, but at least they won’t be able to plead ignorance about what’s in this food product now.
Writing in the margins of books, underlining sentences, and highlighting passages enables me to have a dialogue with the book. I imagine my children, my husband, or a friend reading the same book and learning about what sections moved me and what I was thinking when I was reading it. It’s a way of saying hello to all future readers. Perhaps my granddaughter will read some of these books after I’m gone.
What about you? Do you keep your books pristine? Do you sign your name in your books? (I used to write the name, date and city purchased in the front of my books.) My sister gave me a wonderful embosser when I was in college that had my favorite saying from the time, “Read and be Freed.” That saying still has a potent message – reading is freeing; it produces an unshackled mind.
Do you loan books to friends? If you do, how many have you loss over the years?
Two other books I read recently and found enlightening are The Laws of Thinking: 20 Secrets to Using the Divine Power of Your Mind to Manifest Prosperity by Bishop E. Bernard Jordan and A New Earth by Eakhart Tolle. In the fiction department, I was deeply moved by What is the What by Dave Eggers and feel proud to have finished the 900+ page tome, Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. I’m going to find some light reading after all this heavy lifting.
A friend I ran into recently said, “I don’t read,” loudly while we were on the train speeding through Back Bay Station. I chastised her for saying it and saying it so vehemently, for two reasons. The first is that it isn’t a true statement. She may not read books from cover-to-cover, but she does read articles in magazines and on-line. I asked her to please not say those words aloud again because flaunting ignorance and being anti-knowledge isn’t something we need more of. We already have a President who seems to revel in not-knowing.
I’m heading to the library, tomorrow, to grab some books for the summer. My writing in margins will be suspended for a while until I get back to reading books that I own. The librarian will recommend some titles I haven’t heard of. There’ll be a treasure trove of new stories, essays, and biographies to devour. Ah…the joys of reading.