On Reading

Writing In Books: Yay or Nay?

I enjoy reading annotations in secondhand books.

I like seeing underlined phrases and wondering why that particular passage meant so much to the reader before me. It gives me the opportunity to wonder what kind of person they were and if, in the improbably event we ever met, we would be friends.

It also makes me consider the endurance of the book’s message and how, in spite of how old it is, it can still mean something to someone.

I, on the other hand, can’t bring myself to write in books.

I tried when I was younger, highlighting certain passages, writing my comments in the margins, etc. But it always felt like I was sneaking into a stranger’s house, leaving sticky notes around their living room and commenting on their wife’s cooking.

Your words don’t belong there, my subconscious seemed to say. This is someone else’s domain. 

The only time I’m able to convince myself to mark up a page is when I’m annotating a textbook. Even then, I do it very sparingly.

What do you think? Do you write in books?


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