Thursday, November 15, 2007


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Today’s question comes from Conspiracy-Girl: I’m still relatively new to this meme so I’m not sure if this has been asked yet, but I’m curious how many of us write notes in our books. Are you a Footprint Leaver or a Preservationist?

I aspire to be a Preservationist--and in most cases I succeed since I don't want to lessen the chances of my kids making boatloads of money off these hardbacks that I buy way too often--but once I start leaving footprints, I really leave some footprints.

I dogear like a maniac (on rare occasions even library books--but don't tell--if I'm running low on paper scraps) and I mark passages worth returning to in pencil. I still have Trixie Belden books smeared with red pistachio dye; I have a tendency to eat messily over my books to this day. And yes, my best friend back in elementary school complained mightily about the red pistachio dye (her books were always pristine); that's probably part of the reason why I'm more eager to loan a book I haven't yet read to a friend than one I already have.

I don't write notes in books these days, although I was prone to that in college. The copy of The Rainbow that I read last month came from the university library--someone had outlined an essay on the endpapers front and back in pencil, and had written notes and marked passages in a mixture of pencil and ink throughout the text. I found the notes interesting, although not particularly enlightening, but I would have preferred to come across such notes in a book picked up in the used bookstore instead of in a library book.

Booking Through Thursday


  1. Anonymous9:21 AM

    I have never ever scribbled in a library book. I can't...

  2. Anonymous11:22 AM

    I used to be a die-hard preservationist. On very rare occasions, I would dog-ear my books but it was always done guiltily. This was all before college, though. After college and a particularly life-changing college course, I was unrepentant with my dog-earing, underlining, and writing notes in the sidelines.

    But, I hate getting stains on my books (food or otherwise), and I would never ever write in a library book. There is just something very, very wrong about that. Even I have my standards.

  3. I am becoming less of a preservationist as time goes on. I'm getting braver, I think. :-) I've come to appreciate that a worn book is well loved and not merely abused, as some might argue.

    I know about food stains. I always seem to smear chocolate on a book now and then . . .

  4. Wow! Scribbling in a library book? That's a real no no. I am an absolute preservationist.

  5. You dog-ear pages? Can't that get you kicked out of a librarians' association or something?

  6. Chocolate and books is a bad combination, but I have to admit to being guilty. And spaghetti sauce, once, but I was very upset about that...

  7. IF I dog-ear a library book (and remember I said I did that RARELY) I un-dog-ear it before I return it. No one's ever noticed.

  8. I hate to admit it, but I've written in library books. But that was a long long time ago. I could never do so now. I'm not sure that I thought it then, but in looking back at my college years, it is likely that I thought I was doing some sort of service to future readers of the book. Isn't that arrogant? And embarrassing! I do underline things in my books, especially if I'm reading it for a book discussion group. I also mark (in ink) where I left off. But it is my book, so I think that's okay. I love reading notes in used books that I find. Interesting sharing the thoughts of someone whom you will never meet except through the marginalia. I tend to write new vocab words on the end papers. Interesting to review them again when I do a re-read years later.

  9. I have trouble keeping books looking new too -- so many things can go wrong, particularly when you read them at the dinner table!


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