Do you write/mark in books?

I’ve never been a fan of writing in books, I’ve thought it’s destroying the book I guess. I could never mark my textbooks, and hated getting the used ones that were marked in and highlighted.

Now however I seem to come to a bit of a problem. I’ve been doing genealogy research and have a ton of books. One is a diary of Jacob Engelbrect, which is 1200 pages or so and has tons of information on my direct family members. Because of the size of the book and the shear number of names it can be hard to quickly find names. I’d like to start marking the names, but I don’t know how, and it still feels funny.

So, who marks their books, which type and how? Who doesn’t mark their books and why? And how should I go about marking my book to make the names stand out so I or someone else can find them. Keep in mind I can’t stand highlighters, plus if I want to keep the book with the rest of my research I don’t want to make it unreadable.

You could use little colored post-it notes as bookmarks. If there aren’t enough colors for your purposes, you can write labels on them.

I think they make special versions of the “post it note” just for this purpose.


If it makes the book more useful to me, then I do not hesitate to write in it. This is assuming, of course, that I own the book in question.

My Grandfather was a devoted genealogist, and I don’t think he could have functioned without making notes in his books. The added bonus is that his writing helps to clear things up for those of us in the family who are going through his materials now.

I found that it was much easier for me to learn something if I make myself mark and write in books. I underline, because it draws my attention better than highlighting, while being less distracting to me while I’m reading. I write in the more difficult books, sometimes to argue with the book, others to define new words or usages.

I still have a hard time doing it though, even though I can tell how much it helps me learn. At least a couple of times I’ve bought three copies of a book: one for me to mark up, one for my wife to, and one to leave unmarked. Made it easier, even if it was silly and wastefull.

I have way relaxed on this. It used to be never-never-never but now if you own the book, have at it. I would mark in pencil, and actually, in your case I would probably use the post-it notes in conjunction, to be able to mark the pages.

I just hate when people mark up library books. And don’t give me any shit about how “we all own them”. I’m talking about people blacking out every swear word in a Stephen King book. So you’re reading graphic gruesome horror but a little swearing makes you turn up your toes?

I used to highlight books. Now not so much - mostly because I sometimes resell them on Amazon.

But I do find it helps me to better remember if I take the time to highlight. I guess because I read more closely.

Underline the names in pencil, then you can always rub them out later on.

People really do that? I don’t know whether to laugh or shudder.

Levengersells these little jobbies called page points - they slide right onto the page to mark it, but are removable and (presumably) don’t leave any marks later. You can even place them at the exact line and such.

I have some at home, but I don’t use them much, mainly because lately I’m reading a lot of fiction that doesn’t need any marking. They’re pretty keen. (And you might be able to find some similar products for less, if you’re so inclined.)

I used to be one that thought that books were sacred, and never to be marked in. I’m not so much that way anymore - if it makes it more useful to you, go ahead and mark in it. Books aren’t made to be revered; they’re made to be opened, read, absorbed, and digested. I can see the point of not marking things if you’re going to resell the book, but if you don’t have any plans to do so and it would make the information more accessible, then I’d mark away. I’ve done this with some Oxford compilations and a large Shakespeare collection in my college courses, and I still appreciate the notes when I go back and read through them.

None of this applies to library books, however - that’s simply not cool. Books you borrow are not for marking!

With the caveat that I would not ever, no never, write in a book that I did not own (including a library book): it depends.

A novel? Probably not. A book on theology or philosophy or design that I am trying to understand and retain? Almost always. I just learn better that way.

Also, those books are the type that I tend to keep so I can refer to them. I’m much more likely to give away or resell a novel. I’m a little weird about people reading my comments or even seeing my underlines (She thinks that’s important?), so I wouldn’t write in a book I wasn’t going to keep.

The only marks in books I own are accidental food stains.

Depends. I mark cookbooks and textbooks all of the time. Other books not so much.

I have been doing a lot of reading on the Kindle lately, and this feature has been particularly well thought out - highlighting, bookmarking and notes can be added anywhere in the text.

If there’s a chance I may donate the book to a library when I’m done with it, I try not to mark in it. If it’s one I know I’m keeping, I see no reason not to.

Cookbooks - yes. Textbooks - yes. Any other book - no. I had proper care and feed ing of books beaten into me at an early age by my librarian mother. So much so that I have a great deal of difficulty discarding books, even terminally outdated textbooks. It just feels…wrong. Same thing with marking in them.

Obviously library books are treated with kid gloves, but I hardly ever read library books. I don’t really find the need to write in books, but I am hard on books. I crack the spine, read them in the tub, fold back pages, etc. My husband told me his 1st grade teacher would be horrified. She told him ‘books have feelings’.

All writing in books is wrong. That’s what my gut says. I think it started with lectures from my mom about taking care of school books so we can resell them. I can’t even write my name in a book that I’m lending out. I know this is extreme, I just can help it. A book plate (“This book is the property of _________”) at the front of a used book will often put me off buying it. Either I have to live with someone else’s name on my book or I have (Horror!) tear the book.

Assuming, as others have said, that I own it, it depends on where my head is at the time I’m reading it. To look at my copies of 2001 and 2010, you’d think I had taught a graduate-level course on Clarke and they were my lecture copies. Highlighted passages, underlined words, “cf. 2001, p. 26” notes in the margins.

As a rule, though, books I’ve read knowing I’ll read again will usually only have the occasional gloss in the margin.

I will write in books to correct errors. I will write in books to add important information for me. I mark on maps I get for a vacation or that I use time after time and have a special location. I would not mark up a book I don’t own. I too hate a highlighter, but will use one on a vacation map. I’ve added adhesive tabs on programing books so I can find reference tables easily.

Oh yes! And I hate it. I’ve even seen words blacked out that, from the context, weren’t swear-words at all. Like “death” or something. :mad:
I sometimes mark books (that are my own), but it’s usually textbooks or reference books. I marked some passages in Pride and Prejudice. Other than that, no.

The only time I did this was back when I was a student and I marked textbooks for reviewing purposes.