Saturday, March 12, 2005


I was taking a break from Lyra's adventures on her way North --and waiting for a pizza baking in the oven-- when I decided to Google "bookish marginalia." Lo and behold, I found a blog called "Bookish" which is quite good (and indeed, had an entry on marginalia!)... And here I thought I was being oh so clever!

So, check out the original Bookish at

Through Ms. Bookish's site, I also found the following article on marginalia by Ben Macintyre on the Times Online website: "Scribble a message in the margin",,,1068-1398459,00.html. It chronicles the history of marginalia and cites one of the best marginal comments ever: Mark Twain's comment on an unfortunate translation of Tacitus -- "This book's English is the rottenest that was ever puked upon paper." Now, that's a line I would be proud to call my own!

I join Macintyre in exhorting all readers to consider paperbacks "as a notebook to be written in and then passed on." I know that I don't feel like I've read anything unless I write all over the text: underlining, circling, questioning, arguing... in short, creating marvelous marginalia that will be seen by no one else but me, since I don't lend my books! Although I do show them to my students to help them understand what I mean by "active reading".

Enough digression. The pizza is getting burnt!

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