Friday, February 25, 2011


I hate the person who used to own my book.

I like margin notes. I write them myself. I, generally, enjoy the notes of others. I like to think of other people thinking things as I think things as we read the same words. I have a copy of Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming that was owned by an eleven year old before me. Maybe she was twelve. I know she was a girl, and I know she was young. She responds to the events in the story like a conversation, excited or disgusted or despairing. She's underlined the words she doesn't know, and sometimes titled the chapters herself. I mean, it sounds charming, and it is, but also kind of irritating, but, overall, I don't hate this girl.

But, I do hate this person. The Little Women notes person. I'm almost sure it's a girl, and she's an idiot. Like, legitimately, not a smart person. She has underlined and noted "gender identity" at every reference to Jo being boyish. Every single one. And let me tell you, if you haven't read the book, there are a lot of references. And at every single mention of money or wealth or want or whatever, this nameless writer makes a "wealth", or "materialistic" note of that too.

She wrote "lame" after one of Marmee's speeches, she wrote "lol" at a passage that wasn't particularly funny, and a "called it" after Beth gets sick. She's constantly drawing these poorly reasoned conclusions about how Alcott is implying that men are needed for every aspect of life, and is just making the process of reading very trying.

I've started erasing everything this girl wrote. As you'd imagine, it's time consuming. I've used up my whole eraser, but I can't, in good faith, pass this book along with these unusually unobservant notes cluttering up EVERY page.

At least she used a pencil.

*the source for my title is Billy Collins's poem, Marginalia. A personal favorite.


  1. I don't trust anyone who tries to make an argument in pencil.

    This irritated me, and all I did was read the blog post about it.

  2. I heart Marginalia. But I don't heart this margin-girl.

    I actually find myself getting distracted by previous readers' margin notes, most of the time. Luckily, the phenomenon of margin notes usually only lasts the first few chapters of any book. Then they lose steam.

    And I hate "LOL."

  3. Everything about this post is awesome. I'm personally a little bit glad you had to suffer through it just so I could read it.

    I love your determination to rid the world of idiots who read classics. Well, not of the actual idiots, but of their margin notes.

    Well done.