Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Marginal Notes

Most recent read: The Joy Diet

Do you write in your books?

This seems to be a topic that people have strong feelings about.

First of all, I am not opposed to writing in books as a rule.  I know some people who consider it to be an act of desecration.  Others are willing to do it, but only in pencil.  I have no such limits (except for my Bible, which has pages too thin for my beloved Pilot G-2s).  I have no moral qualms with scribbling in the leaves of my current read, but the question is whether I really want to, or if I will get anything out of it.

As a student, I always had to read with a pen and/or highlighter in my hand.  I didn't feel like I was studying if I didn't have a pen in my hand.  Holding a pen was a signifier of assigned reading instead of pleasure reading.  I would scribble all over printed articles and books alike.  It was certainly helpful for study purposes, but it seemed to add something to the general reading experience as well.  

When I am doing personal reading, my feelings about writing in books are mixed.  For non-fiction books, I tend to lean towards reading with a writing implement.  If it's a "personal development" book, I often want to note things that to remember or write my own thoughts for later.  That process feels natural to me.

However, I haven't read a novel or a book of poetry with a pen or highlighter since American Literature with Dr. Lucas my senior year of college.  for some books, it breaks up the rhythm of reading a compelling story.  However, there is something intriguing and romantic about writing insightful and witty comments about characters and plot in the margins.  I confess that the possibility of discovering penned thoughts in the margins is the one of the main attractions of used books for me (in addition to the thrifty price, of course!)  Isn't there a love story about a man that falls in love with a woman because of the notes she wrote in book he's reading? 

So what are your rules and habits regarding marginal notes?  Do you?  If so, do you have specifications for genre of book or writing implement?  If not, is it because you are philosophically opposed or simple find no pleasure or use in the practice?  Do tell!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Books to Make the World a Better Place

I have recently become a part of a fantastic group called "It Starts With Us" or known as "The A-Team".  If you sign up, the founder, Nate, sends you weekly "missions".  These can be just about anything, but are all about small ways to make the world around you a little better.  I can't explain it as well as he does, so go to the website to learn more.  Basically, the concept behind it is getting a large number of people to to small things to make a major impact.  So go to the website, become a member of the A-Team.  It's awesome.  Trust me!  Also, another awesome group, 20 Something Bloggers, has recently teamed up with them.  So if you are a member of 20SB, that'd be an easy way to get involved with the A-Team as well.  

Now, on to the books. Since I've been a member for a few weeks now, following the missions, the blog, the tweets, etc have caused me to focus a little bit more on what I can do to make a difference.  I've tweeted about a couple of cool articles I've come across recently, but my most exciting discovery was some awesome books that are immediately going on my wishlist.  

All of these titles look fantastic and inspirational.  But now I want to know.  What books inspire you to make a difference?  What are some great websites with ideas for make other people's days brighter?  I want to think about ways that I can make this blog an agent for positive change in the world.  Thanks for being a part of it with me!

(All images from