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December 12, 2011


RE your note on writing in books: I have our family Bible, printed 1610 ("Breeches" Bible, before the King James version), with signatures of three generations of ancestors and their birthdates. What's interesting is that (as kids, I assume) dthey also drew pictures in the margins, such as horses' heads and the like. Just thought I'd mention it!

Reverend, don't you feel that these annotations make the family Bible come alive? You've got signs of real people reading it. And also, doodling in it. Some might view this as sacrilegious, but, hey, at least those kids opened up the Bible.

Defacing your books decreases the likelihood of anyone wanting to borrow or steal them.

cc, also of a used bookstore wanting to buy them. A clerk thumbs through the pages, sees my highlighting, and tells me "no thanks." But I've had some success with the Amazon buyback program, which seems to be OK with even pretty significant highlighting.

I disagree at least on a few points.

I can't stand when I buy a book that has been destroyed inelegantly by someone who thinks that their scribbles over the words improve upon the message or aids them in "remembering" significant passages.

It can be incredibly frustrating to read a book that is highlighted, and it is a rare individual who actually has the ability to highlight and add value when the books gets passed on to a new owner. I treat my book collection like a reference library, and when I care for a book I choose not to deface it with my ideas, because while I agree reading is active, that activity should not negatively impact the other very important aspect of books, which is sharing the ideas within without significant altering or defacement.

If someone plans on keeping a book within their own collection and not sharing - or passing it on within a family, by all means, feel free to append it with your ideas and utilize it as a notebook, but when you make the decision to do so, you should realize that it is no longer the book the original writer intended to write, and it is now a merging of what you think is "important" and relevant to you. And unless you aspire to be a writer and contributor to books, then for the most part, I would recommend you not doing it.

Sorry. Just bought a used book with somewhat ineffective highlighting and wanted to make a point about how I can hardly read it without the interference of someone else's ideas.

But, I completely agree reading should be active, it is a discussion, it is a discourse between writer and reader - a notebook for ideas works just as well for this if you plan to resell the book eventually.

All in all though, I do respect highlighters and the particular relationship they have with books - although it is not my own - just wanted to provide the relevant alternative perspective.

William, thanks for sharing your highlighting thoughts. Now that I've started to read some e-books via my Kindle Paperwhite, I've begun to write notes in a notebook, as you suggested.

However, I still find that highlighting in color on paper pages, and penning in notes on whatever blank pages are in the back of the book, feels more natural and pleasant. Maybe this is a matter of habit. Whatever, it is a tough habit to break.

I agree with you that it is distracting to read books that have been heavily highlighted. I wouldn't want to buy one of my heavily marked-up books, if I wasn't me. So you make some good points.

Main thing is, keep reading! However. Whenever. Whatever.

I've had this innate desire to highlight inside of my books.

However, much like the previous commenter, I was concerned about passing the book on or selling it, etc.

Over the years I've noticed an interesting pattern. 1. I rarely sell my books. 2. The most wealthy people I know highlight and annotate the books they read.

So guess what I started doing last night? Yup... Highlighting. I might annotate on my second round of the books I'm reading. However, highlighting is much faster than me taking notes.

I can get through more content, learn more and apply more. When I go back and read a book, I can also hit all the substance and leave out the fluff.

I see my innate desire to highlight was with great reason. Efficiency in my case :)

I read mostly self-help, motivational, spiritual and health related books.

I highlight, but old books are so beautiful, I find it difficult to "harm" it.

Thank you for writing this.

I felt almost guilty for writing and highlighting my own books, thinking about their future.

But why not take full advantage of your book and yes you’re right it’s ACTIVE READING. Thank you thank you

I’m sorry I write in all my books especially my Spiritual reading that I feel like God is talking directly to me through the author. I believe if a book don’t have notes or highlights or a few Amen or Yes lord , or Lord please forgive me , or lord Change me it did not talk to me. So YES. I write in All my books I enjoyed. And guess what I don’t give away my books and I’m sorry I highlighted and wrote in all the Bible’s I have. And I buy ALOT. I GUESS I JUST LOVE ANY BOOK THAT WILL TEACH ME MORE ABOUT THE LORD !!

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