Thursday, October 13, 2016

How and Why to Mark a Book

How to mark a book

Why would we want to mark in our books?

“You know you have to read "between the lines" to get the most out of anything. I want to persuade you to do something equally important in the course of your reading. I want to persuade you to "write between the lines." Unless you do, you are not likely to do the most efficient kind of reading.  I contend, quite bluntly, that marking up a book is not an act of mutilation but of love.  
Why is marking up a book indispensable to reading? First, it keeps you awake. (And I don't mean merely conscious; I mean wide awake.) In the second place, reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written. The marked book is usually the thought-through book. Finally, writing helps you remember the thoughts you had, or the thoughts the author expressed. 
Even if you wrote on a scratch pad, and threw the paper away when you had finished writing, your grasp of the book would be surer. But you don't have to throw the paper away. The margins (top and bottom, as well as side), the end-papers, the very space between the lines, are all available. They aren't sacred. And, best of all, your marks and notes become an integral part of the book and stay there forever. You can pick up the book the following week or year, and there are all your points of agreement, disagreement, doubt, and inquiry. It's like resuming an interrupted conversation with the advantage of being able to pick up where you left off.
And that is exactly what reading a book should be: a conversation between you and the author.” 
--- Mortimer Adler

There are many ways to mark and things to mark as you read a book.  We teach the youth to begin by marking a few specific things:
  • Characters – to track the characters and be able to find physical characteristics and character traits later.  We can go back later and get a full picture of the character.
  • Themes – When we mark the themes, we can find the principles.
  • Quotes – It's always great when you find a great quote to be able to find it again later!
  • Definitions – for better understanding, we can go back and find definitions to words we don't know.
How to read and mark a book:
  • Read with a pencil or pen in hand.  Make marks in the margins.  
  • When you have finished a chapter, go back and annotate the things you marked on the blank pages at the front or back of the book.
It's as simple as that!  And every time you go back to the book after the first reading, you will have your notes and can quickly skim them if you need to, or track more themes and characters every time you read the complete book again!

What if I don't own the book?

Use the folded page method and store your pages in a binder for reference later.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What is a Classic?


Classic as defined by Thomas Jefferson: “…everything that is useful which contributes to fix us in the principles and practice of virtue.”

A Classic:

  • ·         Contains profound ideas on several topics
  • ·         Contains truth
  • ·         Deepens the understanding
  • ·         Can be learned from over and over again- sometimes indefinitely
  • ·         Elevates and enlightens
  • ·         Helps you to understand yourself and the world in new ways
  • ·         Facilitates learning by discovery

Reasons to Read Classics:

  • ·         Because, “we can learn only from our ‘betters.’ We must know who they are and how to learn from them.”
  • ·         To be enlightened rather than informed
  • ·         To be pulled out of the culture and mores of our time and see the bigger picture
  • ·         To come closer to truth because pursuit of truth is the goal of the truly great writers

Components of Classics:

Bent stories portray evil as good, and good as evil. Such stories are meant to enhance the evil tendencies of the reader, such as pornography and many horror books and movies.

Broken stories portray accurately evil as evil and good as good, but evil wins. Something is broken, not right, in need of fixing…Broken stories can be very good for the reader if they motivate him or her to heal them, to fix them.

Whole stories are where good is good, bad is bad and good wins…readers should spend most of their time in such works.

Healing stories can be either Whole or Broken stories where the reader is profoundly moved, changed, or significantly improved by her reading experience.”[1]

·         Natural consequences
·         Natural laws and natural rights
·         How you are inspired

[1] DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education

This entire article comes from the ten Boom Institute and can be found online here.