When studying theological works, do you mark up books or

Discussion in 'The Literary Forum' started by Reformed Bookworm, Jul 7, 2018.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Brethren, good day. I am curious to hear your methods of approaching studying. When reading theological works, do you take notes and then review them? Do you underline, mark, or highlight passages as you read through it, and then review them? I am personally a note taker. I take a plethora of notes and then review. I have heard that highlighting as you read through, then copy the notes, and finally review them is an effective way of absorbing the material. I struggle with marking in books and it pains me to get books full of markings. Am I being to critical in that respect? I look forward to hearing your specific approaches to studying. I pray the Lord's sovereign grace be upon each of you.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2018
  2. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I mark with a pencil. That way, it is eraseable if I need it to be. But I can still find what I want later.
  3. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for the response. Do you then go back and copy what you marked in a notebook? If so, do you read a chapter and then copy the notes or read through the entire book first, and then copy the notes?
  4. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I dislike books that are marked in, and I find marking in books an inefficient way to note something I actually want to find later.

    So if I read something I want to note, I write a note either in a notebook or in a searchable electronic document, depending on how I expect to use it later. I have notebooks and documents for various topics, so the note sometimes goes in one of those. If I want to be able to refer back to the work, I also note the title and page number.

    So for instance, let's say I'm reading something from John Owen about the Trinity, and I like it and want to be reminded of it or able to refer back to it. I will write a note in my running "Trinity" document and also include the work I'm reading and a page number. This serves two purposes: (1) if someday I am studying the Trinity, I might read through my notes and come upon that great point from Owen, and (2) if someday I remember that Owen made a great point about the Trinity, I can find it more easily than if I had to wade through all his works.
    • Like Like x 4
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  5. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thank you for your response. We are in agreement on books being marked up. That is a great method and the one I typically follow. Sometimes my notebook subjects are too broad. I need to take the time to digitally archive my notes by themes.
  6. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    I buy two copies if it is an important work and mark up the first and keep the second clean for future need or use. (That is what I did in the old days.)
    Now, I buy one copy, scan it myself, have it as an e-file (docx for Logos), and then mark it up reading the hard copy.
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Pencil to underline or make small notations. I then go rescan that section and summarize/analyze on google docs.
  8. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    I highlight, underline, and write notes in the margins. They are my books. I can do with them as I please.
  9. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I mark books with pencils and highlighters. I bought them in order to learn from them, not to worship them. Marking them helps me to retain what I am reading, so that is why I do it.
  10. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    I use bookmarks, but I don't mark books.
  11. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    This! :agree:

    Sometimes I read with a notepad and pen nearby, and I am able to be more intentional about note-keeping.

    However, at other times, I just have a book in my lap as I sit on a porch swing or on a bench at a park or at the beach. At such times, I joyfully scribble in and highlight throughout - I don't have any intention of ever parting with books that I purchase, so I am not terribly concerned with others' views on markings.
    Alas, though, as my library becomes increasingly digital, my note-taking methodology is evolving...
  12. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Indeed they are. Praise God we have such liberties.
  13. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    I do not feel my restraining from marking in books is elevating them to an object of worship. I personally just find markings to be a distraction. I am also particular about things being clean and in order. Lord willing that my wife and I have children, I hope to pass my library off to them. I may even gift them to a young man who is about to start the journey into ministry as my elders have so graciously done for me.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2018
  14. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have considered buying two copies of books that have been a great blessing to me in order to fill one up with annotations and markings. Thanks for sharing.
  15. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I don't mark books. I might get more from them if I did, but I can't bear to do it. I'll happily concede that it's due to aesthetic reasons rather than practical ones--I just hate the way it looks relative to clean text. I have a good memory so I still retain a lot of the information, but it's admittedly much harder to find passages again when I want to reference something. I will mark up digital books, however, as it's much cleaner and you can hide notes. I like Matthew's method, though. Perhaps I'll get a book scanner and try that some time. Despite about a dozen years of post-secondary education I never became a very proficient note taker.
  16. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Though I do very little studying, when I do want to remember bits and pieces, I use a post-it on the page, sticking up like a bookmark, with a note on the post-it to remind me what it's marking. Can't really bring myself to scribble in books, and I dislike the colors of highlighters.
    It's interesting sometimes, to get a second-hand book that's been scribbled up, and see what sort of things the PO underlined. Usually they are not things I would have underlined myself....
  17. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    I'm hard on books as a rule and readily lend them out but am reluctant to borrow them for that reason. I don't necessarily mark them up but I usually fold pages or dog ear. I'm not afraid to make marks if I think it will help. As I read more and more electronic books it is becoming less an issue though.
  18. sgemmen9

    sgemmen9 Puritan Board Freshman

    Books are finite and meant to be learned from. Anything you can do to remember information the better of you are! My books are marked, highlighted, dog-eared and immensely damaged.
  19. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Lol, this is how my wife feels. Yes, remembering is the key. Sadly, I've read many books that I can't remember anything in them. I wonder what the point of reading them was. They say they are working on a way to where we can download information into the brain. Sometimes this sounds like a good idea.
  20. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    Indeed. Books are tools and tools show the signs if being used. My grandfather taught me that a man with all shiny new tools has no claim to being a skilled carpenter.
  21. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    I can't stand the idea of myself writing in a book. The last time I did in any true capacity was in college when I was reading Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life and grading each "chapter" until I gave up trying to read that book.

    Since then, I have always had a visceral feeling that dissuades me from ever writing in a book. Even putting my name in it!

    But there's nothing wrong with doing it if you're inclined.
  22. Cedarbay

    Cedarbay Puritan Board Freshman

    I may be highlighting too much, since two sets of colored pencils I haven't had long are worn down to stubs. ;)

    Had a good laugh when my grandchild picked up one of my books and said, "Gramma, someone colored in your book and it wasn't me."
  23. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would agree with that in regards to a physical and artistic job/craft. With all due respect to your grandfather, my clean books along with my stacks of notebooks would beg to differ.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  24. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    I only mark books with pencil. If I underline, or make a margin note, I pencil the page # on the front flyleaf with a brief explanation. This is handy for later reference.

    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  25. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    Books are to to be treated as one would treat ones wife, delicately and lovingly. So no turning down the corners to mark your place, but use a book marker. Yet mark the places that delight you, as you would kiss your wife to show your affection and delight. But also the markings may have a future use, in that an unconverted family member may read it, and say, well that’s what “the old man” was on about, and it be an arrow to the heart.
  26. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Depends on the book. I dislike messy books, but will use pencil to help me follow and remember a weightier work. I keep a card to underline neatly and will sometimes write numbers or letters to maintain the author's points. A note or two might end up in the margins and more extensive notes, sometimes, on the end leaves.
  27. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    I do recall my wife winsomely reminding me at times that I seemed to love my books more than her at times. ;)
  28. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    I fold a piece of printer paper in half and write brief notes with page numbers on it.
    I keep the paper in the back of the book.
    Once several pages are accumulated, I hole-punch the paper and file it in a notebook.

    I hope to pass on my library and notes to my kids someday.

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  29. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    When reading the Puritans I sometimes underline headings and subheadings so I can go back and attempt to recreate the original outline. It is easier to jog my memory on one Word doc than to flip through pages.
  30. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Let's just say that some of the books in my library would have a difficult time being sold.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page