The Sunday Magazine

Writing in the margins

It is drilled into us as children; never write notes on the pages of the book you are reading! Award-winning author Tim Parks disagrees. In fact, he believes we should write in our books - for the benefit of all humankind.
Author Tim Parks (Credit: John MacDougall/Getty Images)

If you are in love with books, the idea of scribbling notes on the pages of the literary masterpiece you're reading might be seen as an act of desecration. Tim Parks disagrees. In fact, it is his strong belief that if there is one simple change in our behaviour that would benefit all mankind, it would be that we should all, pen in hand, make copious notes while reading a book.

Now before you cast a skeptical eye in his direction, consider this: Tim Parks is passionate about books. Not only is he an avid reader, but he is also a prolific author: two of his sixteen novels have been nominated for the prestigious British literary award, the Man Booker Prize. The nominated books are Europa in 1997 and Judge Savage in 2003.  And his new work of fiction, Painting Death, a mystery set in Italy, has received glowing reviews. 

For the past three years he has channeled his passion for books and all things literary into an online blog about reading, which he writes for The New York Review of Books. He writes about topics ranging from the difficulty of reading books these days - too many distractions - to why we should read new books and not just the classics. And, of course, why we should read with a pen in hand.

 A collection of essays from his blog have recently been published, titled Where I'm Reading From: The Changing World of Books.



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