Do You Write On Books?

Sunday 7 June 2015 by

One of the key maxims about being a good writer is that you have to be a good reader. And ‘good’ doesn’t just translate to ‘voracious.’

Active reading is the art of reading and taking in the techniques the writer is using. It generally doesn’t happen when we’re swept up in the story, which is why most active reading is done on a second read through. Students studying books are usually advised to read their texts several times, and to annotate them, highlighting devices, suggesting meanings and interpretations.

Even when I was at school, I hated doing this. Writing on a book, to me, was blasphemy.

It’s a thing I’ve never really got over, even as an adult at University. If I ever had to write on a book, I’d do it in the faintest pencil, with the hope that I could rub it out later and restore the pages to pristine goodness.

A friend of mine at school had no such qualms, and would write a score in the front of her novels – rating them out of ten. I haven’t spoken to her in years, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she were a book blogger now! She used to encourage me to leave my score and my thoughts in the front of her books too, but even with her scribbles already adorning the first blank page, I couldn’t bring myself to mark it.

The only time I’ve ever appreciated writing on books is getting signed copies. It’s the only concession I’ll make.

So, even though I know I need to read well to write well, I just can’t do the whole ‘marking up’ my books thing. I’ll stick with rereading passages and analysing in my mind. At most, I might use a post-it note. That way, I can preserve the sanctity of the book, while not losing the observation about the author’s craft.

You can follow Loralei on Twitter: @LAHaylock

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