r/books – My Thoughts on “Taking Notes in the Margins”

Before we even get started, can I just say that the OP’s username is absolutely amazing? Okay, enough of that. Let’s move on to something new for today’s blog post and take a look at a question posted by a Redditor named “historical_cats.” Never before have I done an opinion piece, so please bear with me as I muddle through this new concept!

Let’s take a look at historical_cats’ question: “I like to make notes about the symbolism in the books that I read as I read them. I find that it helps me grasp the underlying meaning of the text better. I know people who underline stuff in books but I’ve never met anyone who makes notes in the margins of books, and even though it helps me I can’t help but feel like it’s a little bit wrong, and kind of like defacing a book. Does anyone here do that is? What are your thoughts on the practice?

Everybody learns differently. The only time I can see marking up the margins of a book being a problem is if it’s a borrowed material from the local library. In fact, when I was in college I loved getting second hand books because usually the previous owner did a lot of the leg work for you in terms of underlining and highlighting. Call me lazy all you like, but I was able to compile a LOT of really good notes from second hand books.

If you own it, go for it. Seriously…whomever put the “defacing a book” thought in your head should be kicked in the shin. If you own the book, and/or plan on keeping it for a long time, then go ahead: mark that ish up! Highlight, underline and post-it note it all you want. Again, used books are GEMS, especially when it’s on a subject you’re really in, or a college textbook you plan on keeping for reference.

Don’t worry about defacing. I think the OP’s fear here stems from history itself, when book burning was once a thing. Unfortunately, book burning and book banning both aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. There will always bee a text someone will disagree with that’ll get a bad rap from some group out there.

It all boils down to this: You paid for the book. It’s yours to do whatever you like with it. Want to make a wreath out of pages from your favorite novels? Go for it. Want to carve out a section from a thick volume and make yourself a hidey hole for your valuables? Go for it. Want to mark the book up for later reference? Have at it. There really aren’t any actual rules on how a book should be handled. You can absolutely respect the effort it took the author(s) to produce it, but once it’s in on your home library shelves, do whatever you like!

Happy Reading, everybody! Did you like today’s blog post idea? Let me know in the comments below and I may do more of these reactionary posts in the future.

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Budding #historian. Writer of #adventures and #sciencefantasy. Lover of mushrooms and libraries. Fan of #chocolate, #books and Pennsylvania history.
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