Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Footprints or Preservation?

Are you a Footprint Leaver?  Or are you a Preservationist?

This can be somewhat of a hot topic (believe it or not) between readers who like to write in their books and readers who like to leave them unmarked.

Mr. Adler, mentioned in a previous post, encourages us to interact with the book by underlining, making margin notes and writing your insights.  This engages more senses to improve the learning process.  Also, old and rare books are increased in value if people of the times wrote in the book--it becomes a piece of history.  In other words, they are leaving their footprint on the book for others to follow.

On the other hand, if anybody has tried to read a used textbook with rampant and gratuitous highlighting, underlining that goes through the words and awkward phrases in the margin, you see not everybody who leaves a note in the book is as historically valuable as we would hope.

Of course, any of you taken to task by the teacher for writing in your middle school textbook will know there are others out there who are rabid preservationists.  Those who leave the book in mint condition as long as possible.  Some go so far as to alter their reading stance in order to contort around the book so the spine doesn't actually bend.  Not everyone is that bad, though.

On the other hand of that, books can often be a fluid commodity.  They pass like dollar bills from hand to hand and shelf to shelf.  If every person felt compelled to note in the book, there would be no more room left for the text! 

Who is right?

My answer:  Nobody... or Everybody

It really is a personal preference.  It can also be different for the different types of books you read.  A fun fiction book might not need too much attention.  An exegetical text might beg more interaction when you are analyzing a passage of scripture.

My personal preference is to sticky-note the book as much or as little as I want.  That way, I can take notes and interact with the text but also take them out eventually if I want to hand the book on to someone else.  I also figure that what I have to put down in the margin isn't so intellectually stimulating that someone 150 years from now would want to read it.  

No matter what you decide, the idea is to immerse yourself in the book and enjoy the experience.  However, this little video covers the how-to-mark-a-book style (with the option of sticky notes) in a very nice way.

Happy reading!

*The Preservation Faux Pas video was featured on (the website for the American Library Association).  The How to Annotate a Book I found from searching on YouTube.


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  2. I used to color and draw in my books when I studied for promotion test, well that is what it looks like after I got done, but no one will care what it looks like in 2 years, let alone 100 years. BAH!
    I write in books because I feel I will lose the sticky notes, so writing in the book keeps the notes together.

    Thank you for the continual encouragement to learn.

    1. I love color! And color coding is a great visual way to keep things in order and make sense of complicated subject matter. Keep up what you're doing as long as it works for you!

  3. Just last night I highlighted passages in the new book I am reading. But, if I do not want the highlights later, I can undo them because the book is on my Nook. Electronic books, a whole different animal. I love my Nook, but it definitely changes the way books are passed around.

    1. I still haven't done much notetaking in my nook; it's something I'll have to explore and write about later. Do you feel it's the same kind of experience as hands on?