Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Opinions: Taking Notes in Books?

We've all been there.

It's your first day of whatever literary class, whether it be in your native language or not, and the teacher/instructor/professor utters that sentence that can either drive people crazy or lead to broad smiles in the bibliophile world.

"You will want to take notes in your book."


Some people's hearts stop when they hear those words.  Defile a book? Absolutely not!  Your notes will be taken in a notebook or you would rather print out the poem and take notes on that.  By the end of the year, you'll have a thick binder full of notes but your books will be absolutely pristine.  The idea of writing in a book makes you anxious and what if your opinions change over time?  You can always change your mind but you can't change what you have written in that book. It will be there forever!


Then there are the people that love taking notes in books.  It's so organized and it's all right there all together where it is supposed to be!  That way you can keep your books and what you learned forever and ever and you will never lose them.  You love going back to the same works years later and laughing over your old notions of literary insight.  You can highlight and compare to other pieces without having to keep track of another notebook. Your books may be ragged but that adds character and shows that you really loved the class!

So...which one are you?  Or are you indifferent?

In college, I saw people almost religiously abstaining from marking up books.  They made their notes in spiral bound notebooks and carried both to class.

In high school, most people happily desecrated their books, writing their names boldly on the spines and ends of pages.  After all, we all had the same anthologies that we paid for and it was much easier to identify your own if it was colorful and unique.  There were fewer notebooks to carry and a lot easier to pretend you were paying attention in class as long as you had your massive book out.  It was also conveniently sized for texting in class but shhhhh...nobody ever did that.



As for me...


I'm usually not a person that would mark up a book at all.  I don't lend out books ever just in case someone dog ears a page or even worse, breaks the spine.

But I'm more than happy to take compulsive excessive notes in my beloved anthologies.  As you can see, I did the typical high school thing and scrawled my name across the pages of my book and then proceeded to happily put down my own opinions of classic authors.


To put this in perspective, all of the notes shown are for one of two poems by T.S. Eliot: The Waste Land or The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.  And all of my notes are different. All of them are color coded and have carefully preserved opinions from two high school classes and two college courses. Like many, every time I went through a course where they covered old material, I learned something new and that shows in the notes where I can see how my perspective changes. Or the professor's opinions were different.  Growth is an important thing, especially in the literary world.

I can't tell you how many times people have told me I should just throw these books away or store them but I adore going back into them and rereading the poems and going over my old notes.

It's just so nice to have everything right there together.  It is compiled and organized.  There's no searching for notebooks. I can remember the year I took each notes by the books that they are in.  It's so soothing to know that I will never lose them.

Does anybody else have compulsive note taking problems? Which side of the fence are you on?  Notes in books or notes on pages?


13 comments:

  1. I love this post!! I definitely a NO-WAY-IN-HELL-AM-I-WRITING-IN-MA-BELOVED-(ornotsobeloved)-BOOKS!! Seriously, I won't write in anything EVER!! ever... XD

    Great post!
    ~Fari 0:)
    My Waiting on Wednesday: Queen of Shadows, I Bow Down to You (WOW#12)!! @ My Little Corner for Books

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    1. To each her own! Do you take notes for books in general? A lot of bloggers keep notes about the books they are currently reading but I find myself a little bit too lazy for that...

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I don't like to leave any marks on my books (even textbooks! xD). I like to write my notes in one single notebook so I can keep it organize and clean. I can't stand it when I see my friends scribble their textbooks with no care in the world! It drives me crazy! xD I think I may have a low case of OCD. xD
    Azee @ UnderCover Critique

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    1. That's completely understandable. If I hadn't been brainwashed from a young age to write in books, it would drive me batty too.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. I'm very immaculate since young age. It's very peculiar since my other siblings are not! xD I ever tried to be rebellious and scribble on a textbook but I was overcome with guilt and rub all the scribbles clean. xD
      Welcome! :)

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    3. That's a good thing to be! I wish I was a bit more organized and meticulous. :-)

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  3. AHHH I would never! I couldn't for the life of me desecrate a book but then again I just didn't take notes. I'm such a slow writer, by the time I finished, they would already be on some other topic. I just chose to listen.

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    1. I was brainwashed at the tender age of 8 to take notes in books. Otherwise, my slightly obsessive nature would take over and I couldn't handle it. I mean, my dad would have probably laminated his textbooks if he could have and I take after him.

      Do you ever lend books? Or do you keep everything pristine?

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    2. Well, nowadays the books I read are all ebooks. I do have have books on a bookshelf but they're medicine related or Christian. I don't lend anymore. I use to lend my books at medschool like if a friend needed it and didn't have it but after, what I call the worst experience ever, I stopped.

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  4. My YA books all have sticky notes that I write on BUT all my "classics" and adult lit have my writing all over the pages. I love it. And coming back for a reread is always special because I get to see how I reacted, what I thought, the first time round, you know?

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    1. Exactly! Yay! Someone else that writes in books! I was beginning to think I was the only one.

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    2. Exactly! Yay! Someone else that writes in books! I was beginning to think I was the only one.

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  5. I write only in course-books, but not in the ones I read. Does it make sense! lol!
    I scribble my heart and brains out on my study-books (and yea, I use colour code too!) but when it comes to novels and other books, I just can't... I guess this leaves me hanging ON the fence! heheh!
    Thanks a lot Britt for sharing such a lovely post :D

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