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Deep Dive: Marginalia

Original question: 41: Do you consider the practice of hand-annotating a book you are reading sacrilege or a part of a time-honored tradition?

From doodles in the margins to neat underlines and check marks, to entirely separate second stories. Marginalia — the writing in the margins of books — is a topic near and dear to me, for a very personal reason. My family has a habit of sharing books that are heavily marked up with our thoughts and notes. These book copies are intensely personal — and no matter how popular the book reprintings are, those individualized copies are irreplaceable.

It used to be that a hand-notated copy of a book was the only kind of book there was. The creation of a book was an intensely personal and resource-heavy effort. Today, books can be had for very few resources, but they can still be heavily personalized.

It’s an implication of personalization within mass production that, every time I find the gift of marginalia in a used book store, I completely enjoy.

Sources & Resources

The New Yorker: The Marginal Obsesion with Marginalia

Amazon.com: JJ Abrams “S”

New York Times: Scribbling in the Margins

Hanover History: Marginalia

Amazon Kindle FAQ

Reddit /r/books

Got Medieval: Medieval Doodles, a quick primer

The New Yorker: Marginal