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Things I Find Underlined In Library Books – Gift of Fear Edition

gift of fearFor a few years now I’ve been collecting marginalia that I see either drawn in the margins of books I read, or sentences or paragraphs that get underlined. Some are hilarious, some are disturbing, and some are just odd. Every time I find something I wonder who the reader was and why the underlined passages or lines meant something to them.

The strangest I ever found was in a copy of Nabokov’s Invitation To A Beheading. At the end of each chapter, a man was writing a running monologue of what he thought about the girl who sat in front of him in the English class where they were studying the book. It was too creepy to reproduce here.

But I’m going to start sharing more of the things I find. Today’s underlined entries are from a mass market paperback copy of Gavin De Becke’s wonderful book The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence.

  • Men who cannot let go choose women who cannot say no.
  • Often, the niceness, or delicacy of a woman’s rejection is taken as affection.
  • (in the margins is written) Why didn’t I listen? Why didn’t I leave?

If, during your literary travels, you find anything you’d like me to share here on World’s Strongest Librarian, please send it to me. I love this stuff and I’m a scribbler myself–just not in library books.


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  • Jon Bergqvist March 17, 2011, 11:38 am

    Once I became so annoyed with the ending in an otherwise excellent novella in a book that I had on loan from the library that I crossed it over and wrote a new one.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2011, 9:32 pm

      That is so funny. What book was it?

      • Jon Bergqvist March 18, 2011, 5:38 am

        Can’t really remember but I think it was a collection of novellas by Ray Bradbury or possibly Robert Heinlein.

  • ellen March 17, 2011, 12:21 pm

    Ha! I actually know a few boys who could use that advice. Sometimes I wonder if I need to shout, “Get out of my house, I need to go to bed and I am not attracted to you!” to get through to friends who get ideas late at night.

  • B.J. Keeton March 17, 2011, 4:35 pm

    This is probably my favorite piece of marginalia I’ve ever done. The thing is, I don’t remember doing it. I opened up one of my grad school anthologies, and I saw it and was baffled. It’s my writing and style, but why I drew it, I’m not sure.