During the past semester, I was taking two classes in which I had the identical thought. The classes were “Media History” and “History of Britain until 1688.” The question came to mind while I was learning about the printing press and how printing has never been the same. The question is: Does the habit of not writing in books come from books being valuable? At one time, books were a prize commodity. Monks had to transcribe every word that was in a book. The amount of work was too great. Even after the printing press, people still valued books. They were still only owned by those in the high to middle classes. Now, books are available in all forms. E-readers have opened up a new world that compliments the book. Especially with the Kindle, note-taking is easy. Yet still the debate remains. I did not even know how big of an issue this was.
Recently, I opened my copy of As You Like It. I was a senior in high school, and was reading it for a project. To engage active reading, I started underlining things and writing plot summery above the page. I even wrote a note about something that had nothing to do with the play in the book. I used the back couple of pages as an outline for my paper. It was wonderful. This has seemed to escalated. A couple of years ago, I took a class on Shakespeare and underlined passages from the different plays that seemed to be gorgeous. The nest semester, I took a class on the Inklings. In one of my books for the class, I had a book that was highlighted in. Instead of fainting at the sight of the colors, I joined in with my own notes. In addition to that, I underlined passages from a book called The Mind of the Maker. The concepts of the books amazed me while I was reading. In another class for the last semester, I did not buy a majority of my books but borrowed them from the library. I felt the inevitable urge to write in the books and underline passages. I bought a legal pad to keep up with all of the amazing talent. Eventually, I bought a couple of the books which are now highlighted and maybe annotated.
I am not saying that I have not judged before. During that last class, I borrowed a copy of The English Patient from the college next door. During the first half of the book, I was reading along when someone had highlighted an entire paragraph of text. My first reaction was shock. I have highlighted in my own books of course, but I had never touched a library book in that way. Yet in reading the quote, I was amazed. It was a brilliant quote. The point of highlighting in a book is not only to remember the quote. It is also to show others the importance of the quote since the eye is drawn to color. This does not mean that I advocate for the writing and drawing in library books. I do advocate to give it a try. I you do not take my word for it at least take Billy Collins‘ opinion.