I often wonder if it is quite alright to leave my mark on the pages of books written by others. Would it be so terrible to dot the margins of a beloved book with something that says I was there once? And not for the benefit of others, but just because a passage, a word, a thought moved me enough to want to carry it around forever. People have been known to copy interesting passages in their diaries. But extracting the words from where they belong may alter the true meaning and intent of the man/woman who put them at a particular spot for a reason.
A friend once said one could only get away with being a scribbler if one were Maxim Gorky (a big scribbler I’m told). I may not fit the bill according to those standards, but it is an exciting prospect indeed to imagine going back to a book devoured ages ago, only to find I left a little of myself in it.
For reading is hardly about the book or the author alone. The very act of picking out a book to read (from several others) marks the first active choice made as a reader. While the author writes with his/her belief systems and prejudices intact, you will react with your set of the same in place.
Having made that first choice of picking out a book, is it not just an extension of that choice to scribble away in it (only if it’s a personal copy of course) if your heart so desires (even if your head may scream the word ‘sacrilege’ often enough)?
Who says scribbling is only meant for textbooks. When there are other (better) books out there that you love enough to agree to spend your life with, scribbling on them must only be considered an extension of your love.
So perhaps it is quite alright to dot the margins of Marquez, Tolstoy, Proust, Woolf, Wodehouse and others. And perhaps a day will come when a closet-scribbler will be able to stand in front of a crowd and elicit thunderous applause when she states with pride: “I am a scribbler on the book” (among other things).