Personally, I’m always excited when I open a used book and find the previous owner’s thoughts and underlines. It’s like a window into a stranger’s literary journey that I’m about to relive with them as I read along. A friend once gave me her personal copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, complete with underlined passages and little thoughts about certain lines that she found especially important. Her notes gave me insight into how she read Whitman’s masterwork, and what it meant to her.
Of course, some people think that writing in books is sacrilege—that it amounts to graffiti, or that it makes a book all the more “used.” Whichever side of that debate you fall, there’s no arguing that marginalia can turn books into singular artifacts. No longer just one copy of many, they become transformed into unique objects that, like any artifact of real value, can be lost or forgotten, only to be rediscovered later by someone else.
We want to see the best note, doodle, or scribble you’ve ever found in a used or borrowed book. Short or long, hilarious or meaningful, fill out the form below to tell us about what made your marginalia discovery unforgettable. We’d also love to see a picture—email those to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Writing In Books.” We can’t wait to see your discoveries, and relive those personal journeys all over again!