Reading with a pen in hand & the marginalia challenge

In this excellent little post the importance of reading with pen in hand is so well explored and stated that it is hard to do better. I can only agree — if there is anything that really has made a difference in my reading it is this one piece of advice: always read with a pen:

And always make three or four comments on every page, at least one critical, even aggressive. Put a question mark by everything you find suspect. Underline anything you really appreciate. Feel free to write “splendid,” but also, “I don’t believe a word of it.” And even “bullshit.”

I have made a lot of such comments through the years. It is about active reading as pointed out in both this article and this one.

The argument can be made, I think, that the marginalia thus produced is really much better than any diary or journal in reflecting who you were at the time of reading, what you thought and what you did – or did not – understand. I think that e-books will only take off for me when they have a solution to the marginalia challenge: how to enable as quick and integrated note taking in the margin as I can have with pen and book.

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