Once upon a time, I went to high school. And, whilst in that high school, I took some English lit classes. (Shocking, I know.) Well, Junior year, one of these teachers required us to write in our books. Write in our books.
When I got that assignment, my head sort of imploded. (Don't worry, my ego quickly swelled my head back to a normal human size.)
Back when I was a much smaller sized human being and didn't understand that my father was not ten feet tall, my parents gave me books and taught me how to respect them. Respecting books included a few things: Never throw/chuck/manhandle a book; do not leave books upside down, cracked open on the table to hold you place -- use a bookmark; do not, under any circumstances, write in a book.
I would never write in a book. Writing in a book would be disrespectful of all the good things that were books, disrespectful of the authors, disrespectful of my family.
My teacher wanted me to do this?
Well, that year, some of our first readings were focused on weighing the merits of writing in and not writing in books. These were very interesting readings and many made strong points. One I remember clearly termed what my family would have considered inappropriate book treatment 'carnal love' and the way my family treated books 'courtly love.' The author said we were putting books on a pedestal, whereas he or she (I can't remember which) preferred a more 'passionate' approach. I thought some of the descriptions of carnal love sounded like an abusive relationship. (Hey, these included descriptions of tearing pages our of the book to make it lighter, or slamming it shut if a bug landed on it to preserve the insect corpse in the book.)
I did see merits in writing in the books. Those who supported it hadn't lied when they said it would make that copy belong to me. Even the one's I'm not fond of, I still have, because I don't want to lose the thoughts I left in the margin. It is nice to look back at the books and remember how I thought back then.
Once I got out of the class, I can only remember ever writing in one other book: Ender's Game, Senior year, when I re-read it to analyze it for a term paper. But, except for that, I do not writing in my books. Too many childhood memories of "Books are our friends. Treat them with respect." I found a decent middle ground, though, with which I am very happy.
Yep, I put post-it notes in my books. Not all books, of course, because that would be impractical, but then again, I wouldn't have wanted to write in all the books either. I'm post-it-ing a book right now, actually. I'm reading Burmese Days right now, and I know I'm going to need to be able to reference it later and remember what some of the Hindi means whenever I open it again, I'm leaving a ton of post-its inside this book. It's actually having a visible effect on the book. If I lay it flat on a table, I can tell where I left a lot of notes.
I like leaving post-its in books. I can still respect that book, and I can have the joy of leaving my thoughts behind in the text and also finding and enjoying the thoughts later. It's my fine line between carnal and courtly love.
Do you write in your books? Do you never write in a book? Are you a middle of the ground sort of person?