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Tuesday, March 31, 2009


1. All books: I happily turn over the bottom corner of a page containing something I might need. People look at me funny when I do this on the tube, but if I didn't, it wouldn't be their time I was wasting.

2. Review books: I divide the inside back cover into sections according to a scheme that evolved over the first few years and now has sections for useful quotations, things that might be handy in the future, funny stories, authorial tics, driving themes, ideas for lines I might use in review, etc. Additional notes on this strategy:
A. I resent all books with pictures inside back covers
B. I can't really read my own writing after three days, but I have a sort of brain/muscle memory based on what I wrote where on a page, and I can at least read page numbers. I can almost always reconstruct a working model of my mind-state. If not, it probably wasn't worth remembering. On the other hand, for real note-taking where it would be useful to remember what I said, I have finally moved to my laptop

What a rare and interesting blog. I regard notes in the margins as a way to become involved with the text, a way to read more actively. Here is how I do it: I place a little mark or put a parenthesis around a passage that I want to make note of for some reason. Then I mark the page number on the end page or inside back book cover. Finally, and this is the key step, after I've finished the book, I go back to the list of page numbers, copy in turn each marked passage in a Word document. The collected passages in my reading for each year are become my Commonplace Book for that year. By typing and then saving each passage, I have a way to readily find any author or book, given the search (find) feature of Word. There is more that I do with those notable passages but that is the way I then mark and then record (save) them over the years. Thank you again for your important blog.
Richard Katzev
[email protected]

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the Magician's Book

The Magician's Book
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"Conversational, embracing, and casually erudite, Laura Miller's superb long essay is the kind that comes along too rarely, a foray into the garden of one book that opens to the whole world of reading, becoming in the process a subtle reader's memoir, and manifesto."
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The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia