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Underlining: Addition or Subtraction

Discussion in 'General Book Discussion' started by Wynter, Jan 20, 2003.

  1. Wynter

    Wynter New Member

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    I have a habit of underlining my favourite passages in whatever book I'm reading. My opinion is that underlining in books just adds to the value, and I especially love to buy a book used and find that someone else has already done the same...or even made notes in the margin. Some kind of literary connection of a sort.
    What do you guys think?
     
  2. lies

    lies New Member

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    My own books are sacred. So, underlining or writing would be blasphemy. But when I go to the library I like to read other people's comments (if there are any), though in theory I disapprove of their vandalism.
     
  3. Deerskin

    Deerskin New Member

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    !!! Underlining books! I would never write in a book I owned but, like lies, I like to read other peoples comments sometimes. The only time I have written in books is during my university course and I often found the notes of others quite useful too!
    I have recently joined bookcrossing.com and was thinking I might write a comment in a book I release, perhaps just inside the front cover, to make it more personal.
     
  4. Dave B

    Dave B Guest

    Me too. I recently bought a very thick hardback book of the stories behind all of the well known Operas, from a second hand book shop. It had been given (in 1937) to someone in hospital as a gift on their leaving and was annotated with a very touching dedication on the inside cover plus the owner had made all sorts of margin notes about what they thought of the Operas they had seen ........... it was the main reason I bought it, sort of continuing the line of 'treasured ownership' :)
    This is a very nice idea.

    Dave B
     
  5. Quinn

    Quinn New Member

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    I became a big fan of underlining (and glossing) when a professor of mine banned highlighting. I found both made me a more active reader. I would never underline in a book that wasn't mine and don't like books with any marks in them.

    My sister used to give me back any books I lent her adorned with sticky notes of her comments. We'd usually still discuss the book, but I loved having a record of what her thoughts had been as she read. I still have them in any books she borrowed.

    I seldom underline if I'm reading for enjoyment. But if I'm reading in a genre I also write in, I make underline and notes. I want to identify and return to something particularly well done.

    Anyone ever read the poem "Marginalia" by Billy Collins? It's one of my favorites by him and discusses underlining and commenting in books. It's both amusing and touching. I know it's online somewhere if anyone wants me to post a link.
     
  6. funes

    funes New Member

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    It's interesting to see all the different reactions to "marking" books.
    When I was in college, a professor of mine encouraged his students to mark up their books as a way of getting a real handle on themes and structures. Until then, I thought marking books bordered on sacrilege. Now, if nothing else, I see it as a way of making a book particularly "my own", as well as remembering special passages, etc.
    However, these days, I tend to use a pencil rather than a pen, and only in paperbacks.
     
  7. Prolixic

    Prolixic kickbox

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    I use a pencil to mark some books--mostly non-fiction books. I'll underline what, IMHO, is the main point of the section I'm reading and perhaps write a neat note in the margin as well--especially if I'm taking study notes. Rarely will I use a pen--it has to be Earth shaking for that.
     
  8. Darren

    Darren Active Member

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    I never write in any of my fiction books.

    The only books I have ever written in were the lecture notes type books that I had at Uni. Now I have a lot of papers and documents scanned into my PC and can virtually write on them using PaperPort - it's great :)
     
  9. abecedarian

    abecedarian Well-Known Member

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    As soon as I opened the library copy of Nabakov's Pnin, I knew I needed to talk about this issue, so I decided to bump this old thread. I'm torn between ploughing ahead even though this book is heavily highlighted and contains copious penciled notes, and taking it back and asking for a 'fresh' copy so I can make up my own mind what I think the writer is saying. Since I'm reading this for my own pleasure, not for a grade, I'm not sure I want to have my experience 'tainted' by this unknown marginalia writer. What would YOU do??
     
  10. Fantasy Moon

    Fantasy Moon kickbox

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    I would return it for a fresh copy.
     
  11. liktareadmore63

    liktareadmore63 New Member

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    i never really right in books, but i have on my bedside a book that ill right one liners from alot of books ive read that i thought were funny entertaining or enlightening. everyonce in a while ill page through it and read what i wrote its a good way to revisit books ive read in the past and remmber books i havnt read in a long time
     
  12. SFG75

    SFG75 Well-Known Member

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    I love to underline passages that I like. I don't write in the margins or on an empty back page unless I think the author is spouting BS. I usually do that in a non-fiction work and then write in where in another book, the author's assertion is refuted. :D Personally, I don't like books that have been underlined before me. In college, it was idiots who underlined everything inconsequential. In regular books, people don't realize what is really important in the book like I do.;)
     
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  13. Peronel

    Peronel New Member

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    I'd take it back. I hate underlining even in textbooks; it makes me think I should be really focusing on that portion of the text and that it has something really valid within, when in reality a seven year old could have underlined it.
     
  14. WoundedThorns

    WoundedThorns New Member

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    my copy of The Fountainhead is fullll of highlights/notes. i'm a bit OCD when it comes to this though

    1. no pen marks unless they are perfect lines
    2. no highlighting unles they are perfect lines. no color other than yellow because thats really the only color that doesn't make it harder to read the text


    i frequently make comments/underline in pencil in my own books.. i have done the same in a couple of library books.

    however, when it comes to used books, i try to stray away from books with many markings/highlighting mainly b/c i'm anal about it and the sloppiness bothers me.
     
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  15. Dmitri Dmitriev

    Dmitri Dmitriev Member

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    How odd... I read the university's library copy of Pnin, and it too was scribbled with notes and underlined quotes. As long as the pages are still legible (seems like it wasn't in yours) then I don't really mind this. It's nice getting getting to know what other people think, and that someone else read this book with so much... zeal... that they felt the need to comment on it. To me, reading a library book and coming across a scribbled note, or a dog-eared page, or someone's bookmark (or, disgustingly, condom) is all a part of the experience.

    I am not the type to write in books, though, and certainly never in a library book. If I ever need to make a note, I do so on an index card or a piece of paper folded into quarters, and use it as a bookmark.
     
  16. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    If the book isn't yours it's vandalism and I won't buy a second hand book with some one else's notes in it.

    The only books I write in are text books and then mostly not. Even if I thought a thing important once, does not mean I will still think it important later. I prefer using a notebook.
     
  17. SFG75

    SFG75 Well-Known Member

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    I agree to a point and you have perhaps inspired me to use a ruler when underlining, but I'm not that...well..er...uh...detailed. I would consider using more than one color if you have two different, but neat things that you want to have stand out. I'm a fan of yellow, but I'm also partial to pink.
     
  18. Conscious Bob

    Conscious Bob Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, I avoid book's with notes or highlights from previous owners.
     
  19. Bullyboy

    Bullyboy Member

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    In a textbook that you're going to sell back at the end of the semester yes. When I was in school it was really helpful sometimes when points were underlined and notated. I'd add additional notes and pass it on. Any other books and it's distracting.
     
  20. Dmitri Dmitriev

    Dmitri Dmitriev Member

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    Those can be very helpful (especially in those 800-pages-of-solid-text textbooks), but only if the person who made those notes are smarter than you...
    Like SFG75 said before, there are always those people who underline everything inconsequential (which is annoying), and make stupid or even wrong notes (which is infuriating!)... basically restating the obvious or misunderstanding some concept.
     

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