Years of reading and talking to readers and reading those who write about reading reveals to me that there are many ways to mark books, but I’ve learned so much about marking by listening to others talk about marking books. Alan Jacobs, in his new book, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, talks about marking books.
He doesn’t like highlighters. (I agree.)
He uses mechanical pencils. (I use fountain pens; black for the norm, blue for vacation reading.)
He writes in columns. (So do I.)
He has shorthand for annotations at the back of the book in the open pages. (Not I.)
I use check marks in the column when I disagree; a question mark for when I need to check something. I number points in the columns sometimes; circle words that matter. Always underline words I need to look up. And I underline favorite quotes.