Reading with a pencil

Oliver Sacks’ writing in a Noam Chomsky book The intellectual is, quite simply, a human being who has a pencil in his or her hand when reading a book. —George Steiner Photographer Bill Hayes wrote a nice essay about Oliver Sacks’ love of words , and he’s been posting images of Sacks’ hand-annotated books on Twitter : Sacks “ loved to write notes on the pages of books he was reading — thoughts, ideas, arguments with the author, diagrams.” What a delight it must be to go through such a library (of 500+ books) and see Sacks’ raw thoughts in margins and endpapers : This is, of course, an ancient practice called marginalia. (A nice, short read on the subject is Mark O’Connell’s piece, “ The Marginal Obsession With Marginalia .”) I believe that the first step towards becoming a writer is becoming a reader, but the next step is becoming a reader with a pencil .

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