writing in books: 156/365

Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby, excerpt from page 160

Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby, excerpt from page 160

I can’t read a book without a pen or a pencil in my hand. There’s no way to connect with it if the words are over there and I’m over here. So I underline, make stars, and if I have time, I copy passages into a notebook or into my computer. It’s the way I “catch” books. If I don’t mark them up, I’m afraid the words will be lost to me forever.

I’ve written about writing in books before–this is something that’s been true about me for as long as I can remember and something I have no desire to change.

Thanks to Sigrun for this reminder about myself.


 365 true things about me
why this daily practice

14 thoughts on “writing in books: 156/365

  1. So true! I’m not always able to bring myself to “write in a book,” (old library going habits die hard!), but I always want to somehow hold on to the words just a little bit longer and find myself either copying them down or reflecting on them in my journal.


  2. When ever I read a truly exceptional book, I always write a paragraph on the last page about how I felt about the story. I figure one day, a great-great-great-grandchild may stumble across the book and feel a connection to someone in his or her family history.


  3. I write in books too and highlight in my Kindle. It’s the best way to find quotations for reviews. When I borrow books, I mark passages with little stickies to take notes later. My husband is somewhat horrified by this habit of mine. The only thing I hate are people who use a neon highlighter or rip out pages.


  4. Me too! For books I really connect with, I must have a clean copy, and another copy I mark up. I also copy sentences, and whole passages in my journal, sometimes even photocopy a page or two to paste in my journal. I most recently did that with Terry Tempest Williams’ When Women Were Birds. I also buy books that sit on my shelves for years sometimes. When it’s time for me to read them, I know it. In the meantime, I somehow benefit from just having them in my space.


    • Marielle, this is such a beautiful comment. I want to say yes, yes, yes to all of it. I’ve copied sentences, passages, and photocopied. I have a handful of books I have two copies of–the marked-up paperback and the clean hardback. And that’s such a lovely way to think of your “to be read stack.” I started the book pictured above, The Faraway Nearby, in June of 2014 but only read twenty or so pages. When I started it again this June, I gobbled it up in 3 days.


  5. Thank you, Cynthia!
    Like you, I copy passages into my notebook, but contrary to you; rarely into my computer. Thinking about it – it seems I use my blog as my digital notebook.


  6. I write in books–underline, make marginal notes, do stars and arrows. (I use pen. I do NOT use a highlighter. I hate highlighters.) I absolutely agree: it’s the best way to keep some of the elusive thoughts or beautiful sentences or conundrums closer to the surface. I also dog-ear pages that I especially like, so I don’t have to flip through a book looking for the best stuff; I can just view the pages edge on and see exactly where to go.


    • Anne, highlighters don’t bother me but seeing that little crease across the top of a page corner kills me : ( Not sure where my distress comes from. But other than that, we are on the same page : )


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