Hvorfor jeg annoterer (the shit out of) mine bøger

“I contend, quite bluntly, that marking up a book is not an act of mutilation but of love.”

Kontroversiel udtalelse, I know. Sådan skriver Mortimer Adler i sit essay How to mark a book. For få år siden havde jeg fnyset ad manden og ignoreret kommentaren, som den galningeerklæring, den tydeligvis er. Men ikke mere.

Første gang jeg satte blyantspidsen mod papiret, skreg alle mine impulser om helligbrøde. Jeg havde levet efter mantraet: Keep your books damn clean! Indtil jeg en dag trodsede regimet og spurgte: Hvorfor? Bøgerne er mine, mini-biblioteket er mit. Skal det ikke mærkes?

Nu kan jeg ikke læse uden en blyant ved min side. Jeg føler mig handicappet, når jeg har glemt et skriveredskab og tanker opstår, som ikke kan komme ud. Mit læsehjerte bløder ikke længere for de bøger, som er tapetserede i marginskriblerier, men for de som ikke er. De rene, anonyme bøger, som aldrig har været i samtale med deres læsere.

“Full ownership comes only when you have made the book a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it is by writing in it”, siger Adler. Hvad siger I, streger i pergamentet: Yay or nay?

“I contend, quite bluntly, that marking up a book is not an act of mutilation but of love.”

Controversial statement, I know. That’s how Mortimer Adler puts it in his essay How to mark a book. A few years ago I would’ve snorted at the man and ignored the comment as the lunatic remark it clearly is. But not anymore.

The first time I put the pencil tip against the paper all my impulses screamed on sacrilege. I had lived by the mantra: Keep your books damn clean! Until, one day, I defied the regime and asked: Why? The books are mine, the mini-library is mine. Should that not be reflected?

Today, I can’t read without a pencil in my hand. I feel handicapped when I forget to bring a writing tool and thoughts arise that can’t get out. My book loving heart no longer bleeds for books that are wallpapered in margin scribbles but for those that are not. The neat, anonymous books that have never conversed with their readers.

“Full ownership comes only when you have made the book a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it is by writing in it”, says Adler. What do you think, lines in the pages: Yay or nay?