(Cross-posted at Literary Compass)
Stefanie at So Many Books has just posted a review of ROMAN Reading and it's generating some great comments about marking in books. Here's one by Whatladder that I particularly like:
My husband claims that his favourite book ever is the copy of the Norton Anthology of Poetry I gave him that had all my pencilled notes in it.What a terrific reminder of the value of marking in books. Besides helping you engage in the text, writing in a book also leaves a visible sign of your presence. When Whatladder's husband reads her marked up book of poetry, he's not just coming into contact with great writers, he's getting to know his wife more intimately. She's there in those pages--her ideas, her reactions, her spirit. I think it's beautifully romantic that her husband has recognized that.
Can you imagine a more meaningful and personal family heirloom than a library of books full of our own thoughts, comments and insights? Think of our children and grandchildren reading through them, getting to know their ancestors. I would love to have a set of books written in by my grandparents. We only get to know our parents and grandparents when they're older; what if we could read their minds when they were our age? What if I could know what my own father thought about life when he was twenty or thirty or forty? Leaving comments in books gives us that chance.
Let's take it a step further: What if your grandmother wrote comments in her copy of Pride and Prejudice, for example. And what if your mother inherited it and added her comments to her mother's? And now the book is yours. Not only do you have a treasured physical possession, you also have something far more valuable: your mother's and grandmother's intimate thoughts and emotions captured for a brief moment on paper. But there's more: Now you have the chance to add your own reflections, insights and reactions to the book for your daughter to read.
Here's an idea: Buy a book with one of your children or grandchildren in mind and read it, marking it up as you go. You can direct the comments directly to them, or you can simply mark it up as you would any piece of literature. After you've finished the book, wrap it up and give it to them as a present. Save it for graduation, or their wedding, or a significant birthday. Maybe give it to them on their confirmation or bar mitzvah, or at a baby shower.
For more about marking up a text, download my free ebook ROMAN Reading: 5 Practical Skills for Transforming Your Life through Literature.