Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Underlining - Word Love

The next chapter was my mountainous internal struggle with underlining. I am a purist and I also believe authors are frequently treated like dirt. Reading the end of the book is judging without a hearing. Singing music while you read is yelling while someone is trying to talk to you. And underlining is making something stand out the writer chose not to put in all caps, bold, or italic. Marring the pages with your own notes is distracting and doesn't allow you to hear the author's whole thought. You know, these sorts of convictions. So my reading system for several years was reading a book straight through then going back a second time to write out quotes and notes. If a book was worth reading once, it was worth reading twice.

My first leap of conscious occurred in desperation. I'm a painfully slow reader and had about seven books lined up for notes and several shelves full of books that hadn't been cracked yet. I started a book I needed to complete, start to finish, in a week. I should have, but I didn't have any respect for the particular author and so I closed my eyes and made the first incision. I began to underline with a big, bold pen. I realized it made me pay attention to word arrangement and train of thought in new ways. Taking notes became entirely different somehow and suddenly I was aware of the author's word choice and order, both in areas that were aggravating and thrilling.

There are still some books that should be committed to memory and untouched, others where post-it tabs are vital, but many books are best served and used with respectful, careful underlining. Sometimes I even write questions and notes in the margins.
I wonder how much more I would have learned if I'd given in sooner... Most of the time being a purest and perfectionist is an excuse not to learn or use something for its proper purpose.


Hanny said...

You're braver than I am, my friend! I've never been a fan of marking my books, which is funny, because I love the character one finds in used books. Perhaps I should try it with one. Maybe a Hunter S. Thompson or Vonnegut or even Kerouac. I think those guys would be all for it. Great post!

PS - I love finding blogs with an author who makes their faith open and bold! Luke 12:8.

Hana - Marmota said...

I underline/highlight texts I use for school; but those are usually texts I received in electronic form from the teacher, so I can print them out again if I "ruin" them with my underlining... I still refuse to underline books as such. I can see from your post how it could work. The thing is, I re-read books a lot, and I'm afraid that it would either keep drawing my attention to certain things and let others slip, or the whole book would end up underlined; neither is good for me. Sad, but true.

BTW, it's "purist", not "purest". "Purest" is something very different...

Bethany said...

Thank you for your comments. You should both TRY underlining something and just see how you like it. ;-)

Hannah, thanks for the edit. According to Mr. Webster they have the same meaning but "purest" is adj and "purist" noun. At least they are both pure words. ;-)

Jess said...

Underlining is something I haven't delved into very much, mostly because I have a very strict conscience which tells me that these books are Mum and Dad's, not mine, to scibble in! However I have occasionally underlined a few sentences in pencil, and I highlight with my Kindle. In our family we have a 'reading journal' for us to write our thoughts, questions, and quotes in, and I try to write in it after every chapter, making it easier to find the quote and remember my train of thought.