While compiling this week’s edition of Snippets, I came across an article on The Huffington Post about marginalia. Jocelyn Kelley’s opening line contained a question:

Do you openly embrace writing in books, or do you frown upon it?

I do agree with her on her main points: a reader’s notes on the sides of book pages make that book’s value go higher and add to the overall story, and that a person’s notes give others a good look at what they were thinking and feeling at that particular point in their lives.

This made me wonder why I’ve never done it. Well, not on the books I read for pleasure, anyway. My old schoolbooks and readings (most of which have already been thrown out or given away) have a good amount of notes, scribbles and inside jokes written on the sides and even on the back − made by me, my friends and review buddies, or my boyfriends at the time. (Yes, I did study. Haha!) There are also multiple highlighted sentences and paragraphs in different colors. All these helped me grasp lessons, string everything together, and pass exams. If they didn’t… well, at least I know that yellow, pink and green highlights in one page make my eyes hurt − and that drawings of a male classmate/ex-boyfriend clad in superhero-ish tights and with an exaggerated abundance of armpit hair won’t inspire anyone to study. 😛

But why not my own collection of books? I don’t know, either. Probably because I didn’t know anyone who did it. I’ve no idea if my family members and friends do it, too. I basically read a book, finish it, put it back on the shelf, and read it again when I’m in the mood. Even today, whenever I read a book for The Reading Spree, I go through each page, then do my summaries and notes on my laptop or tablet, and only when I’m done with the whole thing. I do highlights on my e-books, but that’s about it.

“But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart…”

I do have one old book with highlighted lines and passages. I remember buying that paperback copy of The Little Prince (Mammoth, 1991) in the late 1990s mainly out of curiosity; a brother’s (ex-)girlfriend had her own copy, and I didn’t know why she kept re-reading it and raving about it. I did find out why eventually, but it has remained on my shelf for so many years, making it out only whenever I moved houses.

So I opened the old and slightly yellowed book today (after more than a decade!) and skimmed through it. Some sentences still resonate today, but some left me puzzled. Why did I highlight it? What does it mean? What was going on when I first read it?

I wouldn’t have this problem now if I took the time back then to write a few notes on the margins. 🙂 I guess it’s a good way to get me to read it again − maybe some memories will resurface. And to answer Ms. Kelley’s question: I don’t frown upon it, but maybe I should also start doing it. Just to give my future self a much easier time; I’m sure I’ll be more ulyanin (forgetful) in a few years or decades. 😛

What’s your answer? Yay or nay?