It’s a digital age, but we’re still mad for paper! Even as readers embrace the connectivity and convenience offered by iPads and Kindles, there are still many good reasons to celebrate a book’s physicality. In Ploughshares’ Book Arts series, we’ll be looking at some of the artists, curators, and craftspeople who work to keep things fresh and relevant.
Okay, Ploughsharers, it’s time to share some of your opinions! Today we’re taking a little squiggly, ink-stained side road in our journey through book arts with a special question just for you:
Do you write in your books?
Or do you prefer to keep them pristine?
(Tell us in the comments section below!)
Readers are a passionate bunch. I did a little informal pre-survey of some of my friends and found the responses ranged from horrified gasps of “No, never!” to enthusiastic, fist-pounding “Hells, yeahs!”
Along the way, I gathered some colorful (and sometimes methodically color-coded) stories I’d like to share with you.
But first a confession. I’m a careful abstainer, a longtime, diehard member of the Keep It Pristine club.
Writing instruments never touch my reading materials. I’ll mark pages and passages with a Post-it, jotting down my thoughts, with their corresponding page numbers, in a notebook. There’s always a crisp roll of Brodart book jacket covers at the ready in my desk drawer. I take care to use bookmarks and never dog-ear. My books are scrupulously clean.
Doesn’t sound like much of a confession, does it?
Well, here’s the thing: I’ve always somehow wished I was the kind of person who wrote in books, who was so full of spontaneous creativity, literary passion and spark that I just had to scrawl all over them. Once, as a teenager, I even tried to deliberately cultivate the habit, but my heart just wasn’t in it and the whole thing felt contrived. As I self-consciously circled and underlined and annotated, all I could think was You’re ruining that book.