From a recent Sun Magazine interview:
Real reading, of course, is a kind of work. But it’s lovely work. To read well, you have to respond actively to what the writer’s saying. You can’t just lie there on the couch and let it pour over you. You may have to read with a pencil in hand and underline passages and write notes in the margins. The poet John Milton understood that the best readers are rare. He prayed to his muse that he might a “fit audience find, though few.
In college I was told by a particular professor that in order to read properly, I must "read violently." He would actually check our books for underlinings and notes in the margins for each assignment, and if the pages looked too pristine, we wouldn't get credit. When reading something profound or beautiful I still get the urge to underline or make comments in the margins. My dear husband, however, disagrees with me and only takes notes in a journal, far away from his crisp white pages. But I like to see the words on the page and my interactions with them. At least Wendell Berry agrees with me. I wonder what the books in his library must look like?
The above interview, by the way, is chock full of thought-provoking quotes about such wide-ranging topics as faith, farming, and the free market. It is well worth your time. I might create a post or two about it, but I think I'll have to print it out first so I can underline and make notes in the margins. ;)