Wednesday, September 10, 2008


READ, originally uploaded by jessamyn.

Tonight I am reading and thinking about booknotes. I am reading a couple books that I have to underline things all the time so I can remember what is important but there is so much I want to remember.

Here is my normal process,

* Underline things I find interesting. (pen or pencil)
* color the edge of the page so I can find important pages by looking at the side of the book. (highlighter or marker)

But this system still has the info locked in the book. In college I had a piece of paper that I would make notes on with page #s and that stays with the book. But I am not in college anymore. The paper was handy when I had the assignment of writting a paper on the book. The paper was just notes of things I found interesting. The notes would add up to the single goal of writing a paper. But without the assignment, what I find interesting in the book and the directions I might take it are so varied that writing notes is too big of a task. The lack of a goal engorges the possibilities beyond what seems manageable.

I have often considered using colors on the edge to distinguish types of notes but never found a categorization that fit for anything.

But with either of my processes, whether I only underline, or write notes and keep that with the book, the ideas are still locked in the book.

My brother is the opposite of me. I like a book that is marked, noted-up, and that looks used. My brother sees books as sacred and likes them pristine.

He made a comment recently that "writing is lonely work" There is much about writing that is lonely, but it is researching that we were discussing at that moment. So I started thinking about how true that is. And it is partly because what you find interesting is locked in the book. A collection of undxerlined passages and notes may form a picture to someone else but you are the best person to make sense of it.

So I'm thinking tonight about how to free that information. And I'm wondering what you do when you read, even if its still locked in the book,

how do you try to remember what you read?


Anne (in Reno) said...

I have never been big on writing in books, most of the reading I have done recently is papers though so I totally write in them. What I usually do is underline the passage and then take notes on a separate page. There, I write part of the passage I am interested in with the page number for reference, and then my notes. I have a little clipboard and my favorite color-coded pens for this purpose. Post-It also makes tiny clear stickers with colored arrows on them that you can put in your books so you can find a passage (the clear bit doesn't cover up the passage and then the colored arrow sticks out the side so you can find it again, b/c of course you've color-coded your notes to go with your arrows).
When I was finishing my thesis, most of the stuff I was reading I saved on my computer in PDF format so I just typed my notes up straight into Word and pasted in the passages if I really wanted 'em. Then I could cut and paste bits of that doc straight into my thesis if necessary. What are you doing this for?

Zack said...

Thanks Anne. I am wondering just because I have been thinking about all that research and thoughts locked in the notes. Wondering if there is a way to get it out. Wondering if there are clues to how in other peoples methods.