The rest of the book was covered in graffiti like a boxcar parked too long outside the train yard: scribbles, circles, underlines, arrows, and rambling marginalia, all against a backdrop of pink highlighter swipes.
— Michael Perry, Montaigne in Barn Boots: An Amateur Ambles Through Philosophy
I’ve never understood why people do this to their books. I mean, strictly from a pragmatic point of view, wouldn’t it be easier and better to keep a notebook (or blog) for recording your thoughts as you make your way through a book, where you can annotate to your heart’s content? It’s the clutter that bothers me — the garish colors and illegible scrawls. It’s like trying to think after walking into a small, loud room. How can I profitably absorb anything with some Pink Highlighter Notation-bro braying at me the whole time? And how much space is there in the margins to record anything of substance anyway? It’s like having a Twitter feed scrolling alongside your reading. I’ve only ever used a red pen to make small brackets around a line or paragraph for future reference. My Darwinist attitude is, if I can’t remember why I bracketed this section, I probably didn’t have anything worthwhile to say about it anyway. And now that I’ve bought myself a Scanmarker for Christmas, I don’t even need to do that anymore. (It goes without saying, but people who dog-ear pages should be put in thumbscrews.)