Marking Your Books

I remember being told to always read with a pencil during my high school and college years. Or pen. Or highlighter. And that doing so would enable me to locate and better remember important details of the story. Ask me how many times I actually did this. Go ahead.

“How many times did you read with a pen or pencil, John?”

Not once. Why? Because I’d either retain the information or I wouldn’t. If I had to go back and revisit the text, then I likely was ill-prepared for any kind of test or exam and that falls on me.

And now I know people STILL do this even once they’re long passed the years of analyzing literature. But I don’t get it. What is being accomplished by underlining that quote? Or writing in the margins? Is it really so hard to read at a pace at which you can retain what you’e reading. I read about a page a minute in most books, right? Could I read faster? Sure. But I don’t see the point of just trying to read as fast as possible. At the other end of the spectrum, I also don’t see the point of trying to analyze every single word of a given text. If you think the author has hidden some underlying theme deep within the words of the book, fine. But that doesn’t mean that you should read the rest of the book searching and searching for evidence that your suspicion is correct. Just read the damn book.

If you’re not trying to analyze the text, then what are you doing underlining and highlighting and noting? Serious question. Cause I’ll randomly come across sentences that have been underlined in the Kindle versions of books and have no earthly idea why someone would want to save them for later.

Do you mark in your books?

On this day in 2014 I published Why is it Still Acceptable to Strip Books?.