Member Blogs > Reading HabitNotes in the Margin: Good or Bad?

  • Thu, 09 Feb 2012 09:44:01    Permalink
    Ive had a copy of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom sitting on my shelf to read for some time. This particular copy of the book was originally in my second hand bookstore inventory, but I removed it because firstly I wanted to read it, and secondly because in my view it was close to unsellable. Almost every page had notes in the margins, pink highlighted passages or underlined quotes. You can see what I mean in the image to your left. Most book sellers view this as book vandalism bordering on the sacrilegious, but Ive always found myself hanging around the fringes in this debate. On the one hand, I agree that good clean second hand copies of books make for easy selling and easy reading. On the other hand, I sometimes find things like inscriptions from previous owners on the inside front page of a book endearing. These kind of markings show that a book has been loved, enjoyed and devoured, and give the book a sense of character beyond its content.

    So what about my copy of Tuesdays with Morrie? Did the notes in the margins enhance or detract from my reading experience? The book on its own is brilliant. So brilliant, that I cant resist giving it a massive plug. It should be on everyones must read list and thats that! The book itself took me on a journey, but the notes in the margin told another story and I found myself simultaneously getting to know Morrie and Mitch, as well as the anonymous jotter. It was like solving a mystery where each scribble gave me further insight into the person behind it. Whilst I will never know the true name or nature of the anonymous jotter, I have formed a picture in my head. In my head, the mystery person is a she and she was at the time studying to be a nurse. I imagine that she wanted to work in palliative care and that she was fascinated by the transition of a patient from illness into death. She is compassionate, caring, empathetic and intuitive. She is spiritual and is looking for direction and guidance in her life. She wants to be more present and the book seemed to be providing her with the tools to accomplish that.

    Its safe to say that I could be severely off base here and that my psychoanalysis is more the result of a rampant imagination than actual perception, but it doesnt matter. What matters is how it made me feel about my reading experience. The book alone took me on a spiritual journey, but the notes in the margin made me feel like a good friend was travelling with me, and we all know how much better a holiday is when you have someone to enjoy it with.

    What about you? Have you had any similar reading experiences? And, what are your thoughts on notes in the margin. I imagine the general reading public is divided on the issue, but nonetheless Id like to hear what you think, or what your preferences are.

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