When one thinks about writing in books, they probably think about analytical, close readings of deep and difficult texts for academic purposes. While this is definitely one of the many instances in which one can write in their books, it is surely not the only one, and it is absolutely not most people’s favorite. There are a vast multitude of benefits to writing in the margins of texts and underlining and circling parts of texts, aside from just deeper analysis/understanding. However, because reading and writing are both different experiences for everyone, the benefits will vary for each person. Perhaps it could be a way to help someone pay attention to the text, to be able to stay focused and keep their mind active instead of having to reread the same sentence five times and still not grasp any meaning. Perhaps it could be a way to mark things down to remember them. This could be helpful if one is planning to have a conversation about the text with others; if they struggle to understand a large section and a quick summary in the margins is easier than rereading, or even if they just like to go back through books they’ve read before and get reminders of what is happening.
My personal favorite benefit to writing in my books when I read, is for fun. I will underline and circle quotes that speak to me, things that are funny, or just anything that stands out to me. I love to put little remarks in the margins of my books, or just commentary and jokes I think of while reading. Then, when I come back to books I read in the past, I can look back and see where I was at that time and what I drew from each text specifically.
For me, writing in my books has become an art for two reasons. First, it is a complex and yet also simple action that varies on how it actually looks for each person and on the benefits it has for each person. Second, for myself and those I have talked to who write in their books when they read, it has become a necessity. Just as a musical artist or a visual artist feels a desire, or even internal demand to create their art, there is an instinctual desire to continually write in texts once you start to. So whether you enjoy reading or not, whether you can make connections and comments in the text or if you just want to laugh at or throw a random smiley face in the text, it is always going to be beneficial to write in your books as you read. It is an art: there is no expectation, there is no grade, there are no rules, just allow yourself to look at books and read texts a little differently with a pen or pencil in your hand.