Admittedly, I used to be somewhat of an anti-annotator. I liked my books pristine (even now, it pains me a little to see dog-eared pages), and nothing (bar a few urgent notes at school) would convince me that writing notes in margins was ever, ever okay.
The first book that I annotated (apart from Macbeth and Frankenstein at school) was Peter Brook’s The Empty Space. It’s a fairly confusing book to get one’s head around at first, with lots of questions raised and abstract notions about theatre; yet there were several passages that resonated with me, so I was forced to whip out the pencil and get underlining. I don’t like to use highlighters, as I find that the ink bleeds through, and pencil keeps my annotations subtle. Pencils also don’t tend to leak in my bag…
Now, I’m annotating left, right and centre. Once my brain latches onto an idea, it runs with it, so I also like to carry Post-It notes with me, because in books I still prefer to keep my additions to a minimum. I find that there’s something really satisfying about underlining a passage that resonates with oneself; it’s like I’m reassuring the author that someone, somewhere did find something to treasure within those pages. Or maybe I’m being overly poetic and sentimental – it’s unlikely that Sophocles or Nabokov or Keats would really give a damn about a 16 year old girl’s pencil markings.
What I also love is buying a second-hand book and seeing what someone else has written, especially with plays. For example, the featured image is from Oedipus the King, and the handwriting is scarily similar to my own. I love thinking that someone out there has held this book, has loved it (or not, as in this particular case, where the annotator has changed the translator’s name from Fagles to Faggot), and staged it. It’s like I’m holding a piece of history. I am holding a piece of history. *mind f-ck*
(I’m going to stop now before I get too deep about words and life and confuse myself even further)
What’s your opinion on annotating books? Do you love or loathe it? Drop me a line below!