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What is your personal and family policy re: marking in books?
 

Do you mark books as/when you read, or do you consider that sacrilege?

I'm not talking about library books, I'm talking about books that you own.

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Not only do I write in books, but I sometimes tear them apart into chapters. My law books were often over $200.00, but the classes were a lot more than the books. And books are cheaper than a prescription and doctor visit for pain from carrying around entire books, when the chapter is all I need at the moment.

Textmapping is meant to be done on COPIES of books, but I often to similar things to a book itself.

http://textmapping.weebly.com/what-is-textmapping--what-are-the-benefits.html

Books are TOOLS. I use my tools. When the pressure mounts, I use my tools harder, even if it means replacing them, afterwards.

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It depends on the book. Usually no, but I'm not religious about it. I am a fan of postits.

I want us all to keep commonplace books.

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Paperbacks we mark up, hardcover generally no.  If it's a book to be shared by many people, then probably no even for paperbacks.  I mostly just get paperbacks now, and I mark them up all over the place when I read them!

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I never ever ever write in books. Which is why I probably had a heart attack when I found out the schools require the kids to do it. And then repeated that heart attack when I found my own child doing it in his own books I bought him. I could have just died!! But, well, I guess they are his books. But the worst part was catching him this past weekend using his quill and ink to annotate a book!! ugh! I just saw it and said "umm, is that your calligraphy quill and ink you got for Christmas?" and he said "yep" and I said "okay" and I shut the door to his room and walked away. I just remind myself he isn't doing drugs, he is not doing drugs, he is not doing drugs.....

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Hardcover books are actually easier to rip apart than paperbacks. They have less glue. LOL. 

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Yes, mark up is part of engaging with text.  Annotate away.  None of us do so with fiction, we like our pages clean and unfolded, but nonfiction is penciled all over.

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No, nope, no way, never, NO.

This has been my stance since I was a child. When I was in high school I tried writing in my copy of Hamlet because everybody was like "writing in books for English class is good because you can take notes in the book." It felt wrong, and it was not helpful or useful to me to mark up the book. I still shudder at the thought of it. Never again.

I was always irked by people who said you could tell the state of someone's spiritual life by looking at how marked-up and worn out their Bible was. Uh, no. I treat my Bible with respect, and its decent condition does not indicate a lack of use. Notes go elsewhere, not in the text itself.

I have matured enough to recognize that it is helpful for some people, so I try not to judge. 😉 But the thought of writing in a book is just...no.

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Pretty much never and not at all. If I need to take notes, I do it in a separate notebook. 

I occasionally highlight text in digital books, but that is only because I can turn highlights off. If I am looking at highlighted and/or annotated text, like Hunter's examples above, my eyes and mind only see the yellow boxes, underlines, ovals, etc. Pretend that the text itself is gone, and all you see are the highlights, arrows, and boxes on a blank piece of paper.  It takes a lot of processing for me to distinguish the text that is layered underneath to the point of getting a migraine.

This is also why I really dislike textbooks that have colored boxes, decorative elements (squiggle lines, etc), quotes in the margins, etc. It is frustrating for me to read such text because my mind and eyes want to jump there instead of following the explanations in the main body. I recently had a stats textbook like this, and it was a huge struggle to read it. Just give me black text on white paper without huge margins, and I'll be happy.

 

 

 

Edited by RosemaryAndThyme
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DH is an underliner, note-taker. I am not. (Nor do I want to read a book that's been written in.)

Edited by alisoncooks

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Sacrilege!   Desecration!  
When a book is a gift, the giver can and should write a note in the front with the date.   

But otherwise, No No No.   

I've even done the thing that Hunter mentioned of just carrying around the current chapter of the textbook.   But except for the time a textbook got wet and disintegrated (which gave me the idea).   I would photocopy the book and just carried the photocopied chapter.  Thinking back, even then I didn't write in the photocopies.   I might have folded up some sheets and put them in a pocket.    But I don't even see a use for writing in them.  I write someplace else.  When I reread text, I'll be more knowledgeable next time and I don't want to be distracted by previous, probably silly scribbles.   And I even more don't want to read someone else's scribbles.  

 

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I rarely mark up fiction, but I also rarely buy fiction unless it is for my kids.  Usually if there is a passage I like I write it down elsewhere. 

Now my Bible is another story.  I highlight, underline, write thoughts, write what someone said about the passage, write other ways a particular word has been translated, etc. I typically date whatever I mark so it can be interesting coming across a passage again and realizing what was going on in my life at that time. I also have letters and handwritten notes in my bible. 

When I read non-fiction I sometimes mark up the book and other times don’t. It all depends on how much I am learning and want to remember from the book. It also depends on if I might pass the book on, if so I probably won’t mark it.

As for my kids I wouldn’t mind if they were thoughtful with their marking and the book belonged to them.  I did notice my 11 year old underlining passages in his bible this past Sunday, to me it symbolized growth in his spiritual walk. My 6 year old writing in a picture book would be viewed as graffiti though.

 

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I annotate in books when I’m learning from them. It helps me engage.

I can’t convince my kid that this is an ok thing to do, so I arm her with post-it notes and flags.

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Yes! Absolutely!! Annotation is necessary!!

As other have said, not in nice hardbacks. 

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Not in most homeschool books, no. I try to resell them.

Nonfiction that I own - I underline and highlight. Very rarely write other notes.

Fiction - for purposes of analyzing the writing, to improve my own, occasionally.

My Bible - lots of highlights, underlining, notes, etc. But I also have a couple (dozen) of clean copies to read when I want not to be distracted.

okay, not really a couple dozen. But translations interest me, and I do have probably a dozen Bibles. I only write in my main Bible, though.

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One of my law classes allowed open book tests. No notes, just the textbook. We had a short timed test EVERY class on the assigned reading, which hopped all over the several chapters and was often odd questions asking for a precise answer to something that was only vaguely discussed in the book. I had the textbook color coded by test, and all marking were geared towards helping me to quickly lift the information from the text that I expected to be in the text questions. Those notes are distracting when later reading the text with a different purpose.

Notes can freeze the text to an individual and the moment of time it was being read by that individual.

Some humans are comfortable taking up more space than others, and some of us can be more or less comfortable with how much space we take up at different times of our lives. Some of us are more comfortable marking one type of text, but not another.

WHY we do or do not mark a text is interesting. Sometimes our choice is reflective of the culture we come from, or the events taking place at the time we read the book, rather than reflective of ourselves. 

Edited by Hunter
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On 3/25/2019 at 8:07 PM, Gil said:

What is your personal and family policy re: marking in books?
 

Do you mark books as/when you read, or do you consider that sacrilege?

I'm not talking about library books, I'm talking about books that you own.

Textbooks? Yes. My Bible? Yes (because it's kind of a textbook). Other works? No.

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No. I can't even see annotating. Even if each kid only wrote in 15 books each year of high school, that would be 15x4x5 single use books.

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I never write in books - I don't like the way it makes them not 'new' to the next reader.  I either take notes in a notebook or write on index cards and scatter them through the book as bookmarks - I have them as references, but if I pass the book on to somebody else, they can take them out.  I hate reading books that other people have written in.  I do write on things that I print out - science journal articles, mostly.  Strangely, I do it even knowing that my comprehension and memory tends to be better if I actually take notes instead of scratching in the margins.  The exception is labeling figures - when I print an article, it's usually helpful to annotate the figures so that i know what the important parts are.  

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More people should write in their books. I've been trying to train my kids to do it and they keep resisting me.

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I tell my DD to mark them up. I read an essay by Mortimer Adler where he essentially said that you don’t really internalize a book unless you own it, and marking it is a way of owning and interacting with it. I’m taking about literature or history.   Of course, I buy a lot of used paperbacks for this purpose. Ironically, though I give the kid license to mark her books, I’m usually the only one who does it. 

dS is not yet allowed to write in books. This is because if you give him a highlighter, he’ll literally end up highlighting the entire page...

Many times,  I “write” in the book on post-its, so it doesn’t mar things too much for the kids when they get to the book. 

With math stuff that I might donate or sell, I make them write lightly in pencil. 

For myself, I’m with Hunter - sometimes I chop off the bindings of books so I can carry around a chapter at a time. I’ve done this not with literature or history, but with guide-type books - like BFSU, or the SOTW activity guide.

 

edited - I found the essay! Here it is

https://laurencelibrary.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/how-to-mark-a-book-ma.pdf

Edited by JHLWTM

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Writing in books is one thing. Highlighting is something else. So often I get a book where the first few chapters are obsessively highlighted in some obscure code known only to the previous owner - yellow here, green there, pink and blue somewhere else, leave no word uncovered! - and then around chapter three or four they give up abruptly.

Also: Insightful marginalia only, please. When you have to look up every other word, put it in a separate notebook. The next person to own your book is going to have to try very hard not to judge.

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On 3/25/2019 at 9:20 PM, Hunter said:

Not only do I write in books, but I sometimes tear them apart into chapters. My law books were often over $200.00, but the classes were a lot more than the books. And books are cheaper than a prescription and doctor visit for pain from carrying around entire books, when the chapter is all I need at the moment.

Textmapping is meant to be done on COPIES of books, but I often to similar things to a book itself.

http://textmapping.weebly.com/what-is-textmapping--what-are-the-benefits.html

Books are TOOLS. I use my tools. When the pressure mounts, I use my tools harder, even if it means replacing them, afterwards.

 

I once heard Leigh Bortins of Classical Conversations say that we should let our kids write in their books. 

I agree w/ Hunter, and I'm so excited to see her posting here again!!! 💕

Edited by Angie in VA
grammatical error
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My 8th grader's school stresses book annotation over outlining.  I grew up outlining so annotating is strange to me.  But, now that he has been doing it since the 3rd, he seems to have  perfected a system.  I will admit annotating is far faster than outlining. 

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No, I never write in books.  I guess I highlighted in some college texts or test study guides.  When I was in school, we usually weren't allowed to write in books because we had to turn them back in.  I guess I never developed it as a habit since it was usually forbidden.

I am going to take a look at the above links.  It's an idea that intrigues me.   

I do occasionally use post-it notes to mark pages and passages.  

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On 4/2/2019 at 1:22 PM, Tanaqui said:

Writing in books is one thing. Highlighting is something else. So often I get a book where the first few chapters are obsessively highlighted in some obscure code known only to the previous owner - yellow here, green there, pink and blue somewhere else, leave no word uncovered! - and then around chapter three or four they give up abruptly.

Also: Insightful marginalia only, please. When you have to look up every other word, put it in a separate notebook. The next person to own your book is going to have to try very hard not to judge.

 

If I write in a book to that extent it has no next person. I put it in recycle when I get rid of it.

 

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You're a novelty. Lots of people think it's okay to pass those along.

And the thing is, I don't mind and even enjoy interesting/useful annotations (and minor proofreading)! "My favorit pome" (sic), "Double the garlic!", "No longer valid, see $SOURCE", "Dude needs to get over himself" - and I've heard it's quite common for the book Speak to have its endpapers written on by readers talking about their own lives. (You can put anything in endpapers and I won't care.)

But people take it too far.

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I write in my cook books, but not in reading books. The cook books get all splattered anyway. For me, underlining or highlighting makes it hard to see something new on the next reading because my eyes hone in on the marked phrases.

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8 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

You're a novelty. Lots of people think it's okay to pass those along.

And the thing is, I don't mind and even enjoy interesting/useful annotations (and minor proofreading)! "My favorit pome" (sic), "Double the garlic!", "No longer valid, see $SOURCE", "Dude needs to get over himself" - and I've heard it's quite common for the book Speak to have its endpapers written on by readers talking about their own lives. (You can put anything in endpapers and I won't care.)

But people take it too far.

I love getting used books where people have annotated, too. Especially old cookbooks.

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A couple of notes, sure.

Not in homeschooling books, not in library books, not in textbooks that I'm going to sell. Not in my Qur'an.

Post it notes and flags are my best friends in the above types of books.

I do enjoy reading annotations that the previous reader(s) left behind, especially when they consist of "the reader's thoughts about the text."

Recently came across this library book - it was from a college library, a book probably used in one of their more obscure courses. It was a book that translated and added translator/historian commentary into the book. A couple of different people had left their mark in it. One reader had very strong opinions about the commentator and/or translators opinion (and the fact that they chose to make the translation of the text rhyme rather than accurately translate it. - it was a book of love poems and in this case, the text did lose quite a bit of "feel" in translation)

Reading the reader's opinion made me laugh out loud. s/he felt very strongly about it and basically wrote a complete argument against it in the margins.

But I would never. (Ok, I might, if I felt THAT strongly, LOL) I tend to feel like writing out my notes and just leaving them there in a book on the shelf makes me too vulnerable. I wont write personal reflections in a book - I save that for personal notebooks.

I do write in some of my textbooks. Especially if it's a correction/important addition to the text. Occasionally I'll do brackets. I've sworn off highlighting, underlining, etc. in anything other than pencil/erasable marker though. I used to be an over-highlighter, and I find that it later distracts me from the text.

 

 

I surprise myself by how OK I am with writing in books, LOL. I mostly work with homeschool texts, so I have a strict rule for my students to not write in any books. I photocopy workbooks!

Previous posters' mentions of tearing apart textbooks and carrying them one chapter at a time made me cringe so hard! (But if I'm being honest with myself, I've done it to homeschool texts! And countless workbooks! Tear apart and proclick!) But most of my college textbooks either weren't useful enough in my classes to spend the time tearing them apart or were expensive enough that they were rentals or I was planning to resell them.

 

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On 4/4/2019 at 4:38 PM, elroisees said:

I write in my cook books, but not in reading books. The cook books get all splattered anyway. For me, underlining or highlighting makes it hard to see something new on the next reading because my eyes hone in on the marked phrases.


Cook books are an exception for me too.   I think because the marks will be relevant later.   I am particularly amused by the marks that are themselves crossed out.  Like when my parents Discovered the joys of garlic.  There is one recipe with an ever increasing amount of garlic used in it.  I have a sugar cookie recipe like that.   DH likes lots of nutmeg in his.   By increasing the nutmeg in each recipe, I learned that 10X the nutmeg was good, but 14X was too much.    🙂

 

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On 4/4/2019 at 11:16 PM, KrissiK said:

I love getting used books where people have annotated, too. Especially old cookbooks.

 

The Half-Blood Prince wrote all over his potions book.  🙂  It was a major plot point for our hero, Harry Potter.

If it’s not going to the next student in the homeschool and if I not going to try to sell it, then I have no problem with writing in books. I rarely have a need to with fiction, but I will mark up non-fiction if I need to use the information in there. 

 

 

...and I’ve been known to dog ear a page or two.  (Gasp!)

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On 4/8/2019 at 8:33 PM, Garga said:

 

The Half-Blood Prince wrote all over his potions book.  🙂  It was a major plot point for our hero, Harry Potter.

If it’s not going to the next student in the homeschool and if I not going to try to sell it, then I have no problem with writing in books. I rarely have a need to with fiction, but I will mark up non-fiction if I need to use the information in there. 

 

 

...and I’ve been known to dog ear a page or two.  (Gasp!)

I dog-ear. And I don’t care who knows it.

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This passage is from a blog on annotating texts — it's something I tell my students:

At exam time, college students face a test that will ask them to recall all the important bits from weeks of study: not one chapter, but many chapters of their biology text, or their economics text; not one 470-page Victorian novel, but several such novels. In the week leading up to the exam, they can't simply re-read everything; there's no time, even if they don't sleep a wink. Besides, in addition to the biology class or the class on the Victorian novel, they have three or four other classes to study for, all at the same time. — So how do they manage it?

They make the challenge manageable from the start by annotating each text as they study. Students who annotate a book leave themselves a breadcrumb trail through the entire text, marking all the steps along their path to understanding and digesting its contents. Good annotations are ones that enable students to quickly retrace their steps, quickly locate every important concept or piece of information and skip over the stuff that's less important. They're trails that are easy to follow. They haul all the buried treasure into plain sight.

So at exam time, or when they're getting ready to write a paper, effective students don't study the entire text. They study their own annotations of the text.

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For my own studies I always mark up books. I have been totally unsuccessful in getting my kids to learn to mark up books, but then again, both of them are STEM types (where taking notes is probably the better way to interact with written materials--not that they do that either), so it probably doesn't really matter.

Edited by EKS

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I guess I really am the odd one out on this one. I won't even write in cook books. Nor do I have them out while I'm cooking. I either photocopy the page or hand write the recipe on scrap paper. I make my notes on that. I'm a heavy recipe tweaker so sometimes the recipe I start with barely resembles what I end up with. I keep my recipes on note cards until I'm done tweaking and then put them in my recipe book on my computer. I print out the recipes I need, when I need them but many I've just committed to memory, tweaks and all.

I'm firmly on the side of absolutely no writing in books in case you couldn't tell. I don't like seeing others' notes either. I don't like to be influenced by others while I'm reading and forming my own opinions and relationship with what I'm reading. I take notes separately if I need to, always have since childhood. I also like to re-reading a clean text I've read before because often time and life experience can change my opinion and relationship with the text and I don't want to be influenced by even my own previous notes. It's more fun to me to go back and look at my separate notes after reading and see how my experience reading it has changed. 

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We do not write in books. We do take copious notes with page references in separate notebooks. 

Why?

One, reading books that have been underlined, annotated, or highlighted drives me to distraction. Do what you will with books that are only for you, but leave family books and school books alone because I am likely to be reading/using them again. 

Two, I think separate notes are much more effective as a study tool. I'm not arguing that no one does well with annotation, but my personal experience across lots of students is that most people do not. It's too easy to feel studious and accomplished because you sat there and made some markings, no matter how irrelevant. If you're my student, we'll discuss the option if YOU own the book plus prove to me that you can annotate and get A's. And then only annotating, not underlining or highlighting (because they make it too easy to be lazy, and highlighting is of the devil). 

Three, I want the option of approaching the text fresh. Even if prior markings are relevant, they pull my attention to the same thing every time, they send my brain down the same track every time. With separate notebooks, I can choose to review my notations or I can choose to make a completely fresh approach. 

On 4/2/2019 at 1:22 PM, Tanaqui said:

So often I get a book where the first few chapters are obsessively highlighted in some obscure code known only to the previous owner - yellow here, green there, pink and blue somewhere else, leave no word uncovered! - and then around chapter three or four they give up abruptly.

 

Truth! I don't think I have ever seen the last half of a book highlighted, lol. 

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15 hours ago, katilac said:

...(because they make it too easy to be lazy, and highlighting is of the devil). ...


Early college, I did this thing on Study Skills.   I don't even remember if was a TV lecture series or a book.   It was a loooong time ago.   But, I remember two important things from it.   One was that highlighting something in a book you are saying to yourself, "I will learn that later"  and you never do.   They suggested just learning it right then.  

The other important thing was to pay particular attention to anything said in the last few minutes of the lecture.  Particularly if it was disconnected from the stuff before it.   The idea is that the professor has a list of important points to cover that lecture.   When there is a few minutes left, they will review that list and just toss out the important points before the lecture is done. 

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4 minutes ago, shawthorne44 said:

  

The other important thing was to pay particular attention to anything said in the last few minutes of the lecture.  Particularly if it was disconnected from the stuff before it.   The idea is that the professor has a list of important points to cover that lecture.   When there is a few minutes left, they will review that list and just toss out the important points before the lecture is done. 

That's a great point. And a reason to not cut out early! 

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2 hours ago, katilac said:

That's a great point. And a reason to not cut out early! 


I can not tell you how many times that one hint saved me, and those in my study group.   
I do have one memory, though, from Quantum Mechanics class.   The professor just tossed out something at the very end that made no sense.   So, I wrote it down verbatim.   At the next study group where we were doing homework, that nonsense comment was the key to a homework problem.  So, I read it out to everyone from my notes.  Everyone else in the study group challenged me, that I couldn't possibly know that.  They had all been in the class, since no one was absent or left early.   Half the class was in that study group.   But, everyone else had Mentally checked out.  Some had put their notes away.   
 

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So, my personal policy is I can mark, but only in pencil.   But more often, I like using post it notes in books, or they even have these colored transparnet little highlighter strips now that I love that I love. 

 

 

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