Or, as one writer puts it, are you a Preservationist or a Footprint Leaver?
Steve Leveen, in his article, Writing in Books (found at Levenger of all places) says few questions polarize serious readers as this one. Some people generously and freely mark, underline, highlight, comment, and generally use their books like they’ve been ridden hard and put away wet. Others treat books as sacred items, forbearing to sully their pristine pages.
“For Preservationists, writing books is akin to running fingernails down a chalkboard. For Fingerprint Leavers, books are like food to be heartily enjoyed.”
Me, I’m a bit of both, but I tend toward the Footprint Leaver. I’ve been thinking about this issue a little bit, as I review and study books on body art, and also take photos from them. Photos from books which are marked up are less than aesthetically pleasing. And I love books qua books, too, and appreciate their heft, design, and crisp pages. So, some books I leave alone.
But I USE my books–I consult them, and do tend to highlight, mark, and comment. How can you study and learn if you can’t highlight, underline, and jot down your impressions? Knowledge is yours to keep forever, but books are mere possessions.
I’m probably going to hell.