As midterm week is looming overhead, slowly turning my brain into mush, I find myself rekindling a very special relationship: the one with my textbooks. After years of getting used textbooks from the bookstore, I still get some strange satisfaction in picking them up at the beginning of the semester and flipping through the pages before the beginning of classes. Maybe it’s just my love for things in print, but they do have character.
Take, for example, the things in them left behind. While the bookstore tries its hardest to eliminate any residual traces of previous readers, they do sneak in from time to time. Ironically, in a memoir of an Iranian-born woman who immigrated to the U.S. to face many clashes of cultures, I found a strip of perforated postage stamps prominently marked with American flags, jutting out from the pages of Funny in Farsi. Funny, indeed.
In other books I’ve picked up, I’m constantly baffled with what readers before me have chosen to underline or write into their margins. Although sometimes useless, it’s interesting to get a glimpse into someone else’s brain.
This raised a question for me: why was marking in textbooks so heavily discouraged in high school? Perhaps the mentality of high school students would be more focused on mustaches and profanity than thought-provoking commentary, but still… Why discourage engagement with the text?
And still, this raised another contemplation: these are things that would be lost with the potential switch to Kindles. No marking, no scribbling of epiphanies in the margins, no postage stamp bookmarks, no scent of aged paper wafting from between the pages… no pages. So take this time to rekindle your own appreciate for your books (pun intended).