6 Sep 2009 10:27 am   //   Filed under: Books

Library books

One unique quality of library books is the notes past readers have written in them. To be clear: I never write in library books. But I enjoy that extra layer of the reading experience—trying to puzzle out what other readers were thinking based on scrawls in the margins. (Within limits—and I’m talking about legible notes, not obsessive highlighting or underlining, which is annoying.)

I especially like it when a reader has corrected a mistake, or made a sophisticated editing judgment:


(This example is from a Brooklyn Public Library copy of “The Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs, which I’m currently reading. Thanks to my friend Amy for recommending the book.)

(Hey, it just occurred to me that notations in library books are kind of like blog comments! Except notes in library books are more likely to make sense, seldom attack other people who have written other notes in the same book, and rarely accuse the book’s author of being boring, lazy and ethically bankrupt.)