I grew up reading my dad's leftover WWII non-fiction, in which he typically corrected the authors with little gems like "NO!!! A6M2 Zero used 20mm cannon and .303, NOT .50 cal. SLOPPY."
Since then I've realized that these scribblings can be useful for a variety of things, like:
- Things to remember for later: "Amazing quote." Then it's very easy to thumb through and find that stuff later. For large tomes like scripture it can help to use expanded notation schemes, like highlighters of various colors, symbols representing topics, and so on. If you stick with "amazing quote" while reading the NT or the Quran or something else for the first time, you will quickly get lost when trying to find that one quote.
- Frustrations, as above: "WHY is the author writing like this? This entire chapter is fluff!"
- Questions: "Who could have committed this crime???" Sometimes just getting the information out of one's own head allows the question to settle in, or to be reviewed and not forgotten later.
- Things to research. I use a little icon like ->O for that, indicating directional attention toward an object. For example, the book refers to another book, or a website, and I want to follow up and learn about it.
- Building a mental model / framework in order to leverage what the book is saying: "This is step 1 of the author's model for identifying tropospheric propagation conditions, and step 2 seems to be given on page 42."
Going beyond marginalia, I have also kept lots of book logs, where I reference a page number and date and get my thoughts onto paper as I read. A log format has its downsides, one of which is that it does not lend itself easily to the expression and design of formal mental models _in one place_. So I usually combine a log format with some other kind of presentational area in my notes that is meant to unify and refine my concept of what can be leveraged, and by which method(s).
Reviewing this before I press "add comment," I realize why I like paper books so much...but I guess with e-books you can still keep a separate paper log.
Anyway thanks for posting!
I know the context here isn't our tech product development cycles, but it sure could be. Those are exactly the reasons I tend to get inspired to work on something.
I think the idea of revering books as objects comes from an earlier time when books were rare and expensive. But now that books are abundant and cheap, it's a useless conviction. We should cherish books for their content not their physical form.
Plus, once I mark up a book it becomes one of a kind and more valuable. If I keep it intact it's indistinguishable from all the other thousands of its clones.
On occasion, I pick up books from my dad's library. His marginalia from decades ago enhance my reading experience. It becomes a meeting of three minds instead of two. I also enjoy putting down my scribbles next to his. Perhaps a few decades in the future my son will stumble on the same book, traverse the same pages, and trace the thoughts and reactions of his predecessors. For me, that is much more compelling than accumulating a family library filled with pristine volumes that make it indistinguishable from a commercial bookstore.
There's lots of discussions I never had with my dad, mostly cause it's too awkward but private notes in the margins read when the same words are going into your brain seems a great idea. It's the thought that occurred to them at the same exact moment in time that you're at.
It's your book, you can do whatever you want with it. If you want a pristine one you can always get a new one. It might be wasteful but compared to all other waste we produce it's negligible and at least you got something out of it. I'd much rather have the resources be used on printing more of good books rather than full color advertising pamphlets that line the floor.
Surely no one expected accounting tablets to be read in the 21st century.
In my opinion, it is often easier to revere a famous author than it is to revere yourself. The examples in the article are from famous authors writing in the margins of other famous authors: it's clear why people find this interesting. Perhaps you will touch someone in your own life and someday the notes you write in the margins of your own books will be something that they hold dear. I think that is so much more valuable than leaving behind a book with pristine pages and an unbroken spine.
No, many people think things will last forever if they treat them as if that's the case.
Then, after they're gone, usually their kids throw out all their pristine books in the garbage, or sell them for $1 per box at a yard sale.
I'd like to go to a purge and only keep ~ 200-300 of special value (signed, perennial favorites, reference works, rare prints, non available digitally, etc).
What grinds my gears is how ebooks don't have a common format for notes/marginalia, ability to easily export whole passages, etc that can sync to my note keeping apps, work processors, etc.
Each is its own silo (if they even allow for proper annotations).
I used to do it in technical manuals but never in novels. I've thought about it but when I actually go to do it think it's silly and my thoughts are my thoughts not to be shared. Off feeling as I love the idea of it.
I have started pencilling in the front cover my initials and when I read a book, just gives it a little life I think.
You might be surprised by how many religious people profusely annotate their sacred texts. :)
But I see your point: to keep the book undefiled so it can have a long useful life and perhaps even be passed down generations. However the point is utilitarian, not sentimental: the purpose of books is to expand the mind of the reader, and in the age of cheap printing the book can be molded to its reader. When you go back and read a book, you can get a better glimpse of what you were thinking the previous times you read a section, and reflect on whether that position confirmed over time, got invalidated or perhaps became a bit more nuanced.
Most of my French friends are genuinely revolted by how I treat the books that I use for work.
I highlight, write in the margins (often with a pen, not even with a pencil), then scan passages for students, who in turn, are often revolted by what they see.
I still think though there is a surplus value in making notes on extra sheets of papers: it's easier to skim through your notes and to find something, and it's easier to archive your notes.
Also, I felt the book "lost its value" when I scribbled in it. This point can be easily overcome by realizing that you will never "sell" a used book for more than postage, except for extraordinary books like art books etc.
You are not alone, but I wish I took more ownership of my books and added notes and corrections.
Areopagitica ~ John Milton
(I’m curious because since I’ve transitioned from academia to industry I’ve found it very difficult to give an extremely thorough treatment to anything but the very most relevant papers. But I still think I’d benefit from keeping up with research, especially as my engineering work takes me further afield from my academic background.)
I see some people can read quickly and get some benefit, but I don't really envy them. I think going slow and struggling with the material teaches me more. I am reminded of Haruki Murakami.
On his book "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running", he says roughly the following. Gifted writers write without effort; everywhere they touch in the ground the water pours. Other writers have to strive (he gives himself as an example); they have to learn to dig wells to get to the water. But when the water dries (inspiration leaves) for the gifted writer (which happens sooner or later), he becomes stuck and clueless because he has not trained for this. On the other hand, under the same situation, the other type of writer knows how to keep going and succeed.
So I am not too worried about my slowness :-)
one practice that i have used to great effect is circling the names of other authors and other texts which the piece that i'm reading mentions. then, if it's relevant, i can later hunt down the other resources easily. you can do some really cool exploration through certain intellectual movements that you'd never otherwise encounter. using that method i've discovered a few of my favorite authors (edward bernays, walter lippmann, etc).
notably, the book that goes into this practice and other scribblings in great detail is the timeless classic, "how to read a book" by adler. there's an entire section describing how to use marginalia to improve your understanding and set the stage for syntopical reading wherein you gain the deepest level of understanding and link-ins with outside information.
there's probably enough utility in pencil-reading to give an entire class on it. i can't praise it enough.
I remember when the iPhone first came out and everyone in my company said they’d never switch because the Blackberry thumbboard was so much better. We all know how that ended...
If it’s helpful, you can reassure yourself that the slow response time is a feature rather than a bug. Being forced to type slowly and parsimoniously might cause deeper understanding:
> "In a small but fascinating study, two psychologists tried to find out if it made a difference if students in a lecture took notes by hand or by typing them into their laptops (Mueller and Oppenheimer 2014). They were not able to find any difference in terms of the number of facts the students were able to remember. But in terms of understanding the content of the lecture, the students who took their notes by hand came out much, much better. After a week, this difference in understanding was still clearly measurable. There is no secret to it and the explanation is pretty simple: Handwriting is slower and can’t be corrected as quickly as electronic notes. Because students can’t write fast enough to keep up with everything that is said in a lecture, they are forced to focus on the gist of what is being said, not the details." (Sönke Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes)
Resurfaced by readwise.io
None of that applies when annotating a text, though. The poor on-screen keyboard of the Paperwhite discourages me from taking any notes at all, or to leave out important context information.
Unless there's some hidden handwriting note option on Kindle that I missed?
I sometimes take notes in more technical volumes that I'm reading as PDFs on my thinkpad yoga, but I don't want to pull my whole damn laptop out just to read, so I'm reduced to tapping away misspelled notes in my Kindle... Very frustrating.
Looking through the marketing material, this may be exactly what I have been looking for. 600$ a steep price tag.
You wouldn't happen to know the file format compatibilities? I'm off on a review search but nobody's mentioned it yet.
Edit: according to this review , epubs and PDFs.
Edit2: er, weirdly, this things pen tips need to be replaced like once a month lol: "An extra set of eight Marker tips costs $12. reMarkable says each tip should last at least three weeks, and that less pressure and usage could extend their life to six weeks."
It comes with 12 tips total though, so that'd be approximately 12$ a year.
The bigger problem are not the tips, it's that there are barely any DRM-free ebooks available anywhere, even if you are willing to pay for them ;(
I'm still using it on a nearly daily basis though..
Don't know if anyone ever used it yet, anyone?
I can't find a single review of this device by not-that-company, and also it's not even in stock lol.
And I get SSH access out of the box, so I can bypass their cloud service!
I just mount the data directory via sshfs and run the unofficial Linux app:
fusermount -u ~/.var/app/com.remarkable.desktop/data/remarkable/desktop
sshfs -o nonempty root@rmk:.local/share/remarkable/xochitl ~/.var/app/com.remarkable.desktop/data/remarkable/desktop
flatpak run --filesystem=~/myBooks/ com.remarkable.desktop
read -p "Restart xochitl? " -n 1 -r
if [[ $REPLY =~ ^[Yy]$ ]]
ssh root@rmk systemctl restart xochitl
fusermount -u ~/.var/app/com.remarkable.desktop/data/remarkable/desktop
A subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/RemarkableTablet/
Unofficial ePaper library: https://github.com/canselcik/libremarkable
flatpak package for the Linux client: https://flathub.org/apps/details/com.remarkable.reMarkable
It's by far the most open ePaper device right now :)
This is why we keep notes at our workstations, not in our reference bookshelf.
You could keep notes as separate pages in the book, but having the notes in context does appear to have the potential to enhance a manual rather than ruin it.
Also, I've had to scan old books, when annotations were a nuisance.
Also, I've received books that previously belonged to the author and scanned through them looking for corrections by the author, with a view to incorporating them into a posthumous new edition. It is tedious to turn 300 pages looking for a correction that perhaps isn't there. Writing in a book is an inefficient way of recording half a dozen notes or corrections relating to a 300-page book. Writing those notes on a slip of paper inserted into the book would be more efficient.
I write on print-outs, of course. When the notes are sparse I make a mark in the corner of every page that I have written on so that I can quickly find those pages again.
Sometimes when re-reading books, I find old opinions or understandings that are no longer correct or opinions I no longer hold.
The downside is that my books tend to get a bit thicker
I used to take notes on books in notebooks and mark the page numbers. Over time it switched to ebooks with TextEdit, then org-mode for writing thoughts on books/talks. It's nice to break a book down by section or concepts and have it all in one place as opposed to being scattered throughout random pages or listed at the end of the book.
It's usually pretty easy to convert ebooks/pdfs to audiobooks or use a TTS tool to read each page, one at a time. That makes it easier to write notes while you're listening to the book. You can also get used to reading around 400 wpm, which is nice if you're a slow visual reader.
Since the comments aren't directly in the book, it's not as geared towards English editing as marginalia is. It's great for summarizing technical material though or learning new concepts!
I’ve made a few attempts to do this (often with org-mode, pdf-tools, and interleave-mode), but I’ve always gone back to printing and scribbling on paper. It just feels more natural, but my notes end up being more ephemeral.
I’d like to be able to sync and search my notes very much, however! Any tips?
Reading with a desktop or laptop has been easier for me since it's more familiar. I'm not really a fan of mobile phones or kindle readers. Evince or fbreader work OK on linux. You could add espeak or another TTS tool for speaking text. On OSX there's acrobat with voice over. Screen readers exist but are harder to control. The tools for reading via TTS are pretty primitive right now unfortunately.
I'm pretty bad at syncing notes... I've primarily done it with rsync over ssh. If you save things back to a server and sync from there that could work. Otherwise there's easier stuff like Google Drive or Dropbox.
OTOH my son came back at the beginning of his second year of high school and announced "you are not allowed to correct my textbooks any more!"
I stopped marking up my books for a while because it made me loathe to loan them out. But now I've just stopped loaning them out.
I really want to do this because I think this type of critical reading of books contributes to active learning.
Anyone has done this/can provide feedback?
That said, I wouldn't use Frixion pens to write in books that I wasn't prepared to write in using normal pens. The ink doesn't completely disappear. The color also comes back (to some extent) if you put the paper in a freezer.
Has to be said.