Jan 13

Writing in books: good or bad? We recommend The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Fram by Steve Himmer.

Ann is just back from New York where she saw the stage version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which was produced in a unique way to capture the flavor of the book. I’m very excited to hear that a local theater in Providence has adapted and is producing a stage version of Barry Unsworth’s Morality Play, a book I love. Broadway goers can look forward to seeing Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca on the Great White Way.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (06:49)

Spoiled Brats: Stories, Simon RichSpoiled Brats by Simon Rich, narrated by the author, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

Notation or Desecration? (09:04)

Jeff, a BOTNS listener recently started a thread on our Goodreads group about writing and underlining passages in books. He usually reads e-books where he can use the highlight or note feature, but is worried about actually writing in a physical book. Where did the stigma of writing in books come from? Can underlining sentences, or writing notes to yourself enhance your reading experience? If so, do you underline beautiful or striking sentences? Do you note how something in the story makes you feel? Do you speculate on what an event might mean?

One way to highlight a passage in a book without actually marking up the book is to keep highlighted photos in Evernote (I first learned about this via this blog post. And, while searching for that original post, I also came upon this post: 8 Evernote Tips for Book Nerds.)  You can also enter favorite quotes into Goodreads, or copy them into a commonplace book.

Ann also discovered a blog post by Laura Miller, called “How to Write in a Book,” which includes a very in-depth marking-up system by C.S. Lewis.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (25:17)

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Ann recommends The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, a compelling thriller she “literally couldn’t put down.” Rachel, the main character, is an unreliable narrator who’s nearly always drunk. But, she thinks she’s seen events that led up to a crime, and she can’t help but insert herself into the mystery.

Full disclosure: Fram is written by my friend Steve Himmer. Steve was a guest at our very first BOTNS retreat (before it was even called Booktopia!). His new book follows Oscar, an employee of the Bureau of Ice Prognostication. His job, which, to this point, has been all about fabrications, has just become all too real. He’s no longer in his safe, quiet office, and he really has no idea what is happening to him. This was a fun, literary adventure that I highly recommend!

  • alpine lily

    I am fascinated by Fram, can’t wait to read it!

  • Joe C

    Your discussion about notating in books made me think of “S” by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst, which has a very interesting premise and involves handwritten notation between two readers of a fictitious “library book.” Their notation essentially becomes more important than the actual text.

  • Michele C

    I wonder how the education system impacts opinions about writing in books. All through middle school and high school, when the books were provided to us, we were told NOT to write or highlight in the books, since they were school property and would be used for several years. Then in college, textbooks are so expensive, and the only way to recoup any money from them is to sell them. And of course, you can get a better price if they are not written in or highlighted. For me, this feeling of not writing in textbooks carries over into fiction books as well. This could also be why Ann thinks that it is a more recent phenomenon.

  • Toni Clark

    Coincidence! I’d just been mulling over the topic of marking up books. It started with this interview of Megan Mayhew Bergman (by Jeff O’Neal on his Reading Lives Podcast. Bergman is a big believer in marking up books and teaches her students how to do it (“Don’t be a passive reader.”). At about minute 33:40 (http://bookriot.com/2015/01/06/reading-lives-16-megan-mayhew-bergman/) Another resource to take a look at is a now-classic essay by Mortimer Adler, “How to Mark Up Book.” (http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~pinsky/mark_a_book.htm)

  • silentsgirl

    I’m definitely in the desecration camp when it comes to marking up books. I was raised to respect and protect items in my possession. When I had my own books, I knew that I was not going to be able to keep everything I read, and that if I re-sold books, nobody would want them if they were scribbled in or damaged. I use a commonplace book for quotes that move me, or
    plot points that I wouldn’t want to put in a review for fear of spoiling
    it. That way I have my memories and experiences, and the next reader
    of my book can have an un-messed book to read. Win-win.

    I purchased a used book a year or so ago, and didn’t page through it as I would usually do. I sat down to read it and discovered that someone had marked in just about every page. From my perspective, the book is ruined, and I’ll have to get another, un-messed up, copy.

  • Kathy

    Just wanted to say a belated thank you to Ann for turning me onto Jo Nesbo. I’m reading The Redeemer right now and loving it.

  • Toni Clark

    Re Writing in Books: See the poem “Marginalia” by Billy Collins; http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/marginalia/

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  • Kimberley

    Once again, you’ve given us such an interesting and thought provoking podcast, thank you! Regarding the writing in books discussion; I actually think that it would’ve been less likely for people in the 1800 & 1900’s to write in their books because books were scarcer. Literacy itself was less common and I think that people valued books and reading more than many do today.

    However, there is still a stigma about writing in books. I don’t have an issue with it, but a lot of people feel that it is somehow wrong to write in a book. We are a perplexing group!

  • Lillian

    National Theatre Live has taken this production across the country in ‘film’ version.
    I’m sure it is just as great as seeing it live.

  • S.lynn

    Listeners might be interested in The Book Club Play when it comes to their area: http://www.karenzacarias.com/plays/the-book-club-play/

  • Guido Maggi

    Really amazing books! Best regards from http://www.guidomaggi.com

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