Writing in Books

19 04 2009

I don’t write in books. I think it’s fair to point that out up front. I find it roughly similar to intentionally urinating in your own bed. Maybe that’s extreme, but it’s how I feel. I was raised not to fear books (my dad put books in our cribs), but to respect them. We didn’t dog-ear or write in them. It just wasn’t done.

I buy a bunch of books second hand, and check books out of the library, so I’ve gotten used to seeing other people’s writing in books. It always makes me cringe, but last night, while re-reading a library copy of Gregory Mcdonald’s FLYNN’S IN, I saw something that simply boggled my mind.

Near the end of the book, some reader had written an “Aha!” comment about the mystery plot on one of the pages. It would have been a spoiler if it hadn’t been written next to the line wherein that particularly mystery had been revealed. It said, “Aha! Ducey Webb!” It was written in pencil and then — this is the part that caused my higher brain functions to shut down — rewritten in pen. You can clearly tell that they were so impressed by their own deductive skills that after writing it in pencil, they felt a need to go over it in pen to make sure their insight never faded.

I just don’t know what to make of that.

Speaking of Flynn, I heartily recommend all of the Fletch and Flynn books by Gregory Mcdonald. If you haven’t read them, you should, particularly if you are a writer. Even if you’re just looking for a witty an entertaining read, Gregory Mcdonald is hard to beat.

Just don’t write in them.

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One response

20 04 2009
Christopher Gronlund

I’m with you about writing in books.

I once loaned a friend a copy of Anthem, but Ayn Rand. The friend’s dad read it and treated it like some college student making notes in the margin.

It was the last book I loaned to the friend.

I’ve seen books from the library written in, and my younger sister once got a hold of my Complete Works of Jack London when I was in 6th grade and went to work with a pen.

She’s still with us today, but she may never know how lucky she is to still be here after that episode…

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