Marginalia are the scribbles on the edges of a book. They could be thoughts sprouting up from the text. Or just ordinary reminders when no other notebook was available. Or possibly the careful outlining of an argument.
When you are a child, parents, teachers, and librarians sear into your head that writing in books is bad. “Don’t do it,” they say. Sadly this takes some many years to unlearn. I spoke with a woman once who was in her forties and was still gun shy about writing in her books because she had been taught so forceful to never write in them.
As a lover of books, I want to not only pass on that love to my children, but encourage them to write in their books. That’s a dangerous lesson. I’ve got shelves full of books I most certainly don’t want destroyed by an eager children. So how can this be done?
I let all my kids see me reading regularly. I read right in our living room. I don’t hole myself up. I let them interrupt me. And I let them join in the marginaling. My middle daughter Maddy is the most excited about these opportunities. She will sit on my lap for more than thirty minutes waiting for the nod. She’ll say, “It’s my turn, daddy. It’s my turn.” I’ll help her slowly underline a passage and sometimes make small marks on the margins of less important books.
Oh the joys of living in the margins of a book.
Marginalia will a place for my scribbles on the margins of the writing life. I’ll share seminal ideas for upcoming projects. Or short poems. I’ll write brief essays on topics I’m passionate about, but that wouldn’t fit in the other areas I write. I hope to offer creativity, spontaneity, and regularity for the readers. A third place for others living the writing life.
Let’s enjoy the journey on the margins of the writing life.
Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and writes for CBMW Manual, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Borrowed Light, and other publications. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and offers freelance editing and book formatting services. His home blogs are Grace for Sinners and Marginalia. Follow him on Twitter.