Another short extract from The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies today, this time the authors' advice to those who 'revere books excessively':
"Some people won't turn down the pages. Others won't place the book face down, pages splayed. Some won't dare make a mark in the margin.
Books exist to impart their worlds to you, not as beautiful objects to save for some other day. We implore you to fold, crack and scribble on your books whenever the desire takes you. Underline the good bits, exclaim 'YES!' and 'NO!' in the margins. Invite others to inscribe and date the frontispiece. Draw pictures, jot down phone numbers and web addresses, make journal entries, draft letters to friends or world leaders. Scribble down ideas for a novel of your own, sketch bridges you want to build, dresses you want to design. Stick postcards and pressed flowers between the pages.
When next you open the book you'll be able to find the bits that made you think, laugh and cry the first time round [...] Favourite books should be naked, faded, torn, their pages spilling out. Love them like a friend, or at least a favourite toy. Let them wrinkle and age along with you."
Well, that's all quite uncompromising! Where do you stand on this? Do you prefer your books pristine, as I do, or is condition unimportant? Do you doodle and scribble notes, so that the book becomes a record of your life and thoughts during the period you were reading it, or do you prefer to leave little or no trace?
On the subject of marginalia, here's a picture of the 1476 edition of John Duns Scotus' Questiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum which I saw at Innerpeffray, and although I can't read his notes, I do admire the beautiful penmanship of the man who took to the margins to express himself there.