Monday, January 2, 2012

Writing in a Book – Special Case - Borrowed Books

I hope that you have been following this series of posts that have dealt with writing in books. In the first post, I explained my rationale for writing in books and interacted with some of the things Tony Reinke wrote about the topic in his book Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading. In the second post, I discussed and demonstrated the nitty-gritty details of how I actually perform marginalia. I hope that gave you some insight into practical issues around this habit of marking up a book. In this post, I'd like to deal with a special case of marginalia, that is; how do you write in a book that you do not own?

I am fortunate enough to live in a nice neighbourhood just minutes away from my alma mater, The University of Western Ontario. Along with a massive central library, UWO has 3 affiliated colleges that are either entirely or partially seminaries. And each of these seminaries has a library attached to them. So, that means, as an alumnus, I have access to thousands upon thousands of great Christian books that I can borrow for extended periods. You can be sure that the libraries involved in extending me this privilege do not want me writing in their books.

Perhaps you are not anywhere near a library where you could borrow your books from. Nevertheless, I imagine that, from time to time, you have friends and family lend you books to read. I doubt that they would be any less upset than the university libraries if their books were returned to them with your underlining, margin-hieroglyphs, and highlighting. Are we at an impasse? Do we need to part ways from our helpful habit of writing in a book and thereby remove the benefits of such a practice from our reading experience? Absolutely not! Here is a solution I offer to remedy this special case situation of marginalia and borrowed books.

Book Darts
Several Christmases ago I came across a handy and helpful little gift in my stocking. To be honest, I think I bought it for myself. Nevertheless, it was a great little gift that I have put to good use. What was this gift? Book Darts. And what are they you ask?

According to Book Darts website, Book Darts are precision-cut, paper-thin metal line markers. They are perfect for use as non-slipping bookmarks that can even be positioned to point to a specific line. Unobtrusive and indefinitely reusable, they eliminate the need for bent corners, paper clips, underlining, highlighting, sticky papers, etc. Book Darts were developed to enrich the reading experience by allowing readers to mark important lines and easily re-find them without harming the pages.

 Now let me be clear. I am in favour of marking up and writing in my own books. As I have shared, I think it is essential to my reading practice. But for certain times when writing in a book is not an option, I think Book Darts are a great tool. These little line markers can keep track of great lines or stellar passages from borrowed books until you have archived, saved, or shared those excerpts according to your purposes.

When I am reading a book from one of the nearby seminaries, I will use dozens and dozens of Book Marks to mark tweetable lines and bloggable passages. I will leave all the placed bookmarks where they are until I am finished reading the book. Then, I enter all the demarked passages into a word document. I now have all the usable material transferred and can quickly and easily remove all my Book Darts.

 Book Darts are a great tool for "writing" in a book when that book is not yours to write in. This gives you an option for continuing to perform marginalia even on books you have borrowed from a friend or a library. They're also useful on books you might want to re-gift. A simple search on the internet will help you find retailers to buy these useful tools. I have picked mine up at a fun retail outlet called Lee Valley.

I hope this is helpful in your quest to become an expert of writing in books!

No comments:

Post a Comment