There is a simple but imprint structure to the marking of books. The first basic rule is that it is generally a sin to write in fictional books and generally a sin not to write in non-fiction. To scribble notes in fiction is generally wrong because fiction was not written for such forms of exegetical dissection, rather it was written to be read. And dammit, you need to subvocalize when you read fiction, I don’t care what anybody who’s taken a speed reading class says–you have to hear the story in your head or you’re not reading it at all. Now, as said, the rule against marking fiction is a general rule, not an absolute one. For example, consider this quote from Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:
“Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of this world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”
Seriously, you’d have to be insane or dead inside not to want to mark that. So mark away. I did. And that enabled me to find it to show to you here. Such are the sorts of exceptions that present themselves in fiction reading.
Non-fiction however is a different matter. Non-fiction nearly always demands that you mark it, it begs to be underlined, questioned, charted, and asterisked. And here is the crucial point about the marking of all books: it must be done in a freaking pencil, folks. Pens are forgivable, but only if you are in extreme circumstances, like being on a plane or that’s all there is, or you’re sitting on the toilet and all you have in your pocket is a pen. These are what we call justifiable events. What is not justifiable however, in any circumstance is highlighting of any kind in any form. This is simple desecration of the sacred trust that is the printed word. If you highlight you might as well buy a Kindle. I’m as serious as the state of our economy on this one. No highlighting. This is not a request, this is just the truth.