discussion: do you write in books?

02 October 2016

i never used to write in books. before, books (for me at least) were meant to be kept pristine and neat, they were (and still are) colour coded on my bookshelf, i would get annoyed whenever anyone borrowed one of my books and dog-eared a page or cracked the spine. books were both collectable items and enjoyable pieces of creativity. i did not like 'ruining' my books.
but what does 'ruined' relate to when talking about books? is 'ruining' breaking the spine by accident, or highlighting a quote that means something to you? or is that just 'loving'. before the difference between 'ruining' and 'loving' my books was as huge as donald trump's wall he keeps talking about building, but now i'm not so sure.

i think studying english at college changed my perception, or maybe pinterest and all those aesthetically pleasing photos of highlighted and underlined books that are scattered around. whatever the reason my mindset changed (it had to - when analysing books, annotation was key) and now my hands itch to write all over my books and highlight them and mark them as a personal possession rather than as a distant inanimate object that i own. 
flicking through books in a charity shop is always exciting because sometimes you'll find a book that has writing in it, or underlined paragraphs and you'll wonder why they were marked, what the reader was thinking when they did that - what the story behind this particular book is for them. so i think that's why i've changed my perception of treating books -i don't want mine to remind bland, i want to look back at them in years to come and be able to see the signs of a well-loved and well read book that has a whole message within it's pages of what it meant to me, and what i enjoyed about it. i don't just want to have a shelf full of books that still look brand new and untouched - because what's the fun in that.
what do you think? do you write/highlight in books? if yes, why? and if not, why?

23 comments:

  1. i tend not to highlight, but i do underline/scribble in/ annotate books, i only do so in school texts when it comes to novels but ANY poetry book will be filled with my annotations (btw, i am about to write a milk and honey review and if it does not convince you that you NEED to read it, i do not know what will - buuuuut if you can't get hold of that one i'm positive carol ann duffy's the worlds wife will be in a library near you, and that is EQUALLY IF NOT MORE amazing and it's so empowering and GAAAH i can't )

    safah | ink stained lungs

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    1. OK OK SAFAH, I get it, milk and honey. I'VE WANTED IT FOR AGES but i finally got a job (yesss) so hopefully, after i've worked there for a bit and had my first payday I WILL DEFINITELY BUY IT. Can you believe I don't actually own any poetry books yet - it's tragic.
      I'll look out for that review- also how come only poetry books and not novels though?

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    2. hmmm dunno really, i guess i tend to get absorbed in the story so much i tend not to slow down and look at specific lines - whereas with poetry, since it's so much shorter and i write it quite a bit, i spend more time studying the pieces for ideas and inspiration :)

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    3. Ah I get it, agreed though. I only tend to highlight on a re-read when i'm reading slower :)

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  2. I also used to think books were these objects that deserved to be placed in an altar and must be kept in clean, dog-ear free pages. That was then...but now things have changed drastically ever since I cut my reading time. It's given me insight about how much my books mean to me and how I want my reading experience to be fresh and memorable whenever I go back to rereading books. So lately, I've no care whether I write or dog-ear my books. Overall, it's FREAKING FUN.

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    1. EXACTLY. it's EXCITING to read a book and see something you love and highlight it and write in the margins. you move from feeling distant about a book (but still loving it) to feeling completely connected with it.
      Although I'm still quite possessive..if anyone does anything to my books I WILL NOT HAVE IT! ;)

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  3. I tend to keep my book pristine, I only write and highlight my school text book, and mostly my books have no scratch. But I do use post it a lot! It's a lifesaver, I just tab my favorite quotes, characters, scene and use sticky notes to write why I love them. I would like to write on them, but I feel like my thoughts are my personal thing and I want someone to borrow my books and find my thoughts allover it. It's just feel to personal for me. For post it tabs I could just leave it there, but take away the sticky notes. That way, people could see what I love, without seeing my inner thoughts :)

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

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    1. Ahh that's clever -back when i was an organised human being i used to use post it notes and sticky tabs on review books so i wouldn't forget the immediate thoughts/emotions i felt over particular scenes or pieces of dialogue, which then made it much easier for me to sit down and review the book once i had time because even if i'd forgotten something specific it'd all be there.
      i should probably get back to that actually..

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  4. I had the same opinion at the beginning. I wanted my books to be in pristine condition and then one day I saw a youtube video on annotating books and I compeltely fell in love with the idea. Ever since I write in my books and I was thinking about highlihgting my quotes because now I'm using those arrow stickers but I go through them so quickly. And I completely agree with what you wrote, this way I show love to my books, they are personal and it's just fun to read my notes when I'm reading it again. :)

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    1. Exactly! And I think if it's a particular favourite you might make multiple notes on the same thing as you read it throughout time and i think that would be fascinating to see after maybe a year - then you'd get a real insight into your thoughts and emotions changing over a particular book or character.

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  5. I'm the same as you in that my opinion only recently changed and that came with A Level English Lit. Doing Shakespeare late last year meant that you couldn't NOT annotate the text. Having poured so much detail into the pages of that play, in highlighting, pencil marks and sticky tabs, I now have the urge to do that in every book I own. However, I've decided that, given how frequently I give away books I didn't enjoy, I'm only going to do this in books I'm certain of keeping and on rereads, once I'm not as invested in the story and looking critically into reading for pleasure. Such an interesting post :)

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    1. Thank you Holly! and yep, i think studying english does that to you. you get to delve so deeply into the author's or character's mind that you can't help but not keep things pristine and just write everything you're thinking, and not just because it'll help in the exam ahah.
      I agree with you though, I think i'd only feel compelled to write/highlight in books that mean a lot to me and i'm definitely keeping because they'd be the ones that mean the most to me. but maybe i'd still write down things in books i may one day donate but just perhaps on a post it note stuck between the pages of the book.

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  6. I would never write in or highlight one of my really nice, pretty books, but I do love annotating, so sometimes I'll purposely buy an older, used version of a book so i can do just that without feeling terrible. So for the Book Thief, which is my favorite book ever, I have a used copy with tons of scribbles, but also a beautiful copy I keep pristine and on display. So then both sides of me are happy ;P

    Elizabeth
    http://whimsicalthoughtss.blogspot.com/

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    1. ELIZABETH I WAS JUST THINKING I SHOULD DO THAT, and with exactly the same book! i really want an older and battered copy of the book thief to write and highlight all over. i actually feel automatically more inclined to write or highlight in already battered books because they already have character and also because it's less like the fear of making the first mark on a blank page with an older and more battered book compared to a completely pristine new book.

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  7. Eeep, I do not write in books ever. But like I have nothing against it! In fact, I buy 2nd hand books and cut them up for art projects, so I have zero problems with well-used or repurposed books. And I toootally agree notes and highlights are very aesthetically pleasing and I feel like it'd be quite fun to try doing this for one book someday. BUT AT THE SAME TIME I LIKE THINGS LOOKING NEAT. haha. I love when my books look as new, it just makes me happy. So I'm fully in favour of bookworms doing whatever makes them happy. ^-^

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    1. Hahah agreed. It's both aesthetically pleasing for me to see a completely brand new books and a completely battered and written all over book - I just don't know which side is stronger yet! Same here though, I sometimes go to the charity shop and buy old books specifically to cut up for art..(but not very old books, only books that LOOK old..i could never bring myself to cut up antique books, i collect them though ahah.

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  8. I am a proud writer-in-books; it is so very important to me that, as you said, my books show signs of being loved and read over & over again. I both underline my favourite lines and dog-ear pages I'd like to come back to, and I so love browsing through second-hand shops and seeing the imprints others have made on their own books. There is such a story to be traced through markings in books, I think - perhaps even more than the one that exists in the black-and-white lines. xo

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    1. I think I'm soon to become a proud writing in books too Topaz. I completely understand the idea of leaving your own story withing a story through note making and highlighting - it's such a personal and therapeutic process and it's also so fascinating to see how other people have done the same to their own books.

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  9. Yes! You've seen the LIGHT. You are now finally someone who defiles books only because you love them. Not many bookish people understand that I feel. And you're right, college makes it all the more easier to doodle all over your books! :P

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    1. I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT MAWA. And yeah, agreed, I think it's the overwhelming love for books that makes you think NO, NO ONE IS RUINING THESE.
      and yesss, college and especially studying english..

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  10. I used to be "afraid to ruin" the book. I guess i was raised that way. Now I am underlining books with the pencil and putting page stickers to review later. Not ready for highlight yet :)

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    1. True - we would have been told off if we ever drew or wrote in books when we were younger. Hahah, highlighter is a commitment - i always hate when i highlight and the line is wonky!

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  11. I LOVE THIS POST! I remember very clearly the first book I ever wrote in, it was Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck which I studied when I was 13/14. Before that I was like noooo how could anyone ever?? I remember underlining very gently in pencil because I was scared to use a biro. But look at me now! XD

    It's only recently I've started underlining books I'm not studying. I used to be scared to but then I was like wait, why not? Before I would laboriously mark passages with ripped bits of train ticket and later copy quotes into a notebook, but how much quicker, nicer and more satisfying is it to just underline? Lol, you should've seen The Goldfinch when I was done, SO MANY BITS OF TRAIN TICKET, though to be fair that was a library book so it was different. But I love books as objects and I love super-annotated-y ones, ie my copy of Gatsby ...

    "now my hands itch to write all over my books and highlight them and mark them as a personal possession rather than as a distant inanimate object that i own." I love this. How very true. (Also, I was pleasantly surprised, when I highlighted that to CTRL+C it, that your highlighting comes up black! I did not know! What a delight!)

    Your ever devoted servant,
    Emily <3

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