This past weekend, I saw the revival of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. One of the themes was the cryptic message that Fermat left about his theorem in the margin of a notebook and how other marginalia takes on a llife of it's own when discovered/uncovered years later as historical archives.

The week before that there was this excellent article in the New York Times by Sam Anderson about we marginalists (I group myself in there because I'm totally a marginalia-girl): This hit home for me — it spoke to the little scribal monk who lives deep in the scriptorium of my soul — and I quickly adopted the habit of marginalia: underlining memorable lines, writing keywords in blank spaces, jotting important page numbers inside of back covers. It was addictive, and useful; I liked being able to glance back through, say, “Great Expectations,” and discovering all of its great sentences already cued up for me. (Chapter 4, underlined: “I remember Mr. Hubble as a tough high-shouldered stooping old man, of a sawdusty fragrance, with his legs extraordinarily wide apart: so that in my short days I always saw some miles of open country between them when I met him coming up the lane.”) This wasn’t exactly radical behavior — marking up books, I’m pretty sure, is one of the Seven Undying Cornerstones of Highly Effective College Studying. But it quickly began to feel, for me, like something more intense: a way to not just passively read but to fully enter a text, to collaborate with it, to mingle with an author on some kind of primary textual plane.

I’m a notes in the margin girl. Come look into my library and you can read all the conversations I've had with the greats over the years, engaging in a dialogue with the author. And you can do this too in my book, Allergic Girl. Have there been been parts you’ve underlined? Or a section where you've written a little note to me, something you wanted more of, disagreed with you or really loved? I'd love to hear.


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