Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reading Circles

Becca loaned me the book I featured in my post yesterday, Hungry. She does something really interesting with books she enjoys. First, she reads the book, underlining and annotating. Then, she passes it around a circle of friends, each doing the same in her turn. When Becca gets her book back, there's a whole conversation included in the pages of the book.

This is the first time I've ever done anything like this, and I loved it. I've always written in books. But it's so different knowing that someone else will be reading your comments, that you are adding to their experience of the book. I felt freer to underline, agree, argue, make connections, add personal experiences. Things that would seem redundant or even ridiculous to write in my own book seemed so necessary in this one.

I'd like to start doing this with some of my own books, but I've always been very possessive of them--probably because of bad experiences involving loaning books to "friends" and never getting them back. I guess there should be some rules to the game.

  1. Choose only people that you are confident will return the book (or that you know well enough to ask for it back if they don't).

  2. Choose only people that will read and return relatively quickly.

  3. Choose only people with whom you can freely express your ideas, opinions, and experiences.

Can you think of any more? And thanks, Becca, for sharing!


Jonathan G. Reinhardt said...

4. Don't lend books to J.R.; he consistently breaks rule 2.

Also, I've always wanted to do more annotating in my books -- you're right, it's sort of necessary. But I usually sell everything when I move or when my shelves are full (where I'm staying right now, the guest room has only one small shelf and the piles are already all over the floor), and books sell less well if I've written in them. So I don't.

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Stephanie said...

I know that when I order used books I always look for "clean" ones, but one book that I ordered for a class at Ole Miss was written in, and it was so much fun to read. Whoever had it before had underlined and defined words, annotated, cross-referenced ("also see p. 47" and even to other books), and made editing suggestions (such as "this point should have been discussed in chapter 2" or "more explanation needed"). It was so methodical and insightful that I figured the previous reader must have been a professional editor. I wouldn't mind getting more books written in like that.

Becca said...

I love getting books from used bookstore that have been written in. I have a lovely T.S. Eliot collection that has notes in red all over the margins. I have no idea who wrote them or when they wrote them, but I love it with love.