Marginalia (n., pl.) - notes in the margin of a book, manuscript, or letter (source)
I had borrowed a few books from the library earlier this month. Soon after reaching home and flipping through them, one book in particular stood out – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. For one, it wasn't a glossy, newer print like the other books in the stash. It was older, more used but still in excellent condition. More importantly, it had light notes and markings in pencil on the margins of some pages.
I am one who never defaces a novel. I can't bring myself to write anything in those beautiful leaves which transport you to a whole different world. Textbooks, though, are a different matter. I underline important passages. I jot down small points on the margins. Sometimes, I even draw some pictures in it… Maybe I'll do a whole separate blog post about this later.
This novel bears some one-word notes on the margins at some places, as well as a few marked paragraphs in every page, all by a very light hand, in pencil. I reckon this is by a student, the way it's done; someone who read it as part of their school or college curriculum.
I was rather surprised I didn't find it as disturbing as I'd expected. In fact, by lightly marking out certain paragraphs and words, the person has succeeded in making me pay a little extra attention to those parts. I find it is quite like having my own friendly ghost teacher, encouraging me to read and understand the book on my own, but still gently pointing out the parts I should pay more attention to so I can eventually understand the plot better. I am now halfway through the book and am eager to finish it, even if only to find out if my ghost teacher is pointing me in the right direction and making me take more note of the details that will eventually prove to be the important ones all along.
Tonight again, I'll be curled up on the sofa, book in hand, with my ghost teacher silently watching my progress. In the end, I'll see if I'm disappointed, shaking my head at her for distracting me throughout, or quietly nodding in agreement and smiling when all the highlighted passages finally come together and make sense.