But my books are mine to scribble in. When I first went to university, I had to own some textbooks because they were needed for a long, intensive period but the price of new textbooks being then, as now, prohibitive, I did what everyone did and bought second-hand from final-year students advertising them on the college noticeboards. Bythe time I had my Anglo-Saxon Primer, my Beowulfand Ancrene Wisse and Sir Gawain, Middle English verse and prose, and Robinson's edition of Chaucer, they had gone through many generations of King's college undergarduates and the margins were thick with annotations, stanzas underlined and double-underlined. It was a badge of honour to own a book in which there were more pencilled annotations and comments and footnotes than lines of printed text ...I did not see a pristine, un-annotated textbook outside a library for my three years as a student, and the habit of making notes in the margin was formed for life. I scribble, underline, note, add, cross out, put in exclamation marks, turn down corners -- even sometimes jot down phone numbers and PINs, and reminders to buy cat food. Not in every book --some pass through me undigested, bought, read, passed on. There is nothing in them worth noting or underlining.
If I owned this book, it would be full of annotations; as it is there are corners folded down for me to add places into my commonplace book because I'm too greedy to read to spend the time to write passages as I come across them.
Perhaps the idea that books are sacred and should never be marked or otherwise sullied goes back to the time when each one had to be hand-copied by a scribe ...
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