I'm a book murderer

I’m a Book Murderer: Why That’s Okay

I write in my books and dog ear the pages.

*holds up hands*

Now, don’t go running away quite yet. There are reasons for my crimes.

Some books I’ve written in deserve it. Such as War of the Worlds. *shudder* That book was the worst.

My expression while reading War of the Worlds
My expression while reading War of the Worlds.

Other books are nonfiction—devotionals, writing books, commentaries, etc. It’s a given for me to underline in them, if they’re my books. I don’t write in other people’s books. (In fact, if there are pencil marks in a library book, I’ll erase them. Look at me being a good citizen. XD)

Most of them are books for school, and a few years ago, I was required to annotate (that means write in) them.

But why do I write in them now when it’s not required? Why damage perfectly good books?


  1. To Improve My Vocabulary

One of the best ways to learn new words is to read books, such as the classics, Shakespeare, and poetry.

When I read, I like to circle words I don’t know, then look up their definitions in my Merriam-Webster app. (Way easier than a physical dictionary. It’s free too!) Then I’ll write the definitions in the margins. (I typically only do this for literature books and nonfiction.)

If I ever decide to read it again, I won’t have to look up the words.

I’ve also learned new words (jerkin, capricious, withal) and discovered authors have certain words they favor. I distinctly remember that I learned “capricious” from Jane Austen because she used it frequently.

I write out definitions.


  1. For My Personal Reference

When I come across a sentence that makes me laugh, description that is interesting (a rarity because I find too much description boring), or something I really liked, I’ll underline it. Either that or I’ll put a little star in the margin.

This is also where I’ll dog ear the page. The books I’ve enjoyed reading the most for school have a lot of dog eared pages.

Oliver Twist has a lot of dog eared pages.
Oliver Twist has just a few turned down pages.

If it’s a book that’s not for school, I don’t write in them as frequently, but I’ll turn down pages so I can find my favorite parts quickly. I’ll also draw smiley faces and hearts in the margins.


  1. To Make Them My Own

If you write in a book, you won’t have to share it with anyone else.

That is my evil strategy. 😛

But honestly, it makes each book special. Even if I’d just write out definitions (and I always do more), it’s still uniquely mine. It’s really fun to flip through them and see all the smiley faces or hearts I drew, pages I turned down, and snarky comments I wrote.

A line I loved from Samara's Peril.
A beautiful line from “Samara’s Peril” by Jaye L. Knight.
A funny line from Julius Caesar.
This line from Julius Caesar made me laugh. In this context, “spleen” refers to a bad mood, not the organ. But it’s still pretty funny.



Things I Don’t Do To Books

I do not crack the spines. At least not intentionally. Cracked books never open right ever again. And the spines…it makes me so sad.

One time I snapped a book in half. It was an old copy of “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot. (It’s poetry about cats.) I had to keep taping the pages back in and one day it entirely fell apart.

But I fixed it with packing tape and now it’s as good as new…if taped together is new.

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
The book I accidentally broke in half. Oops!


I don’t write in books with pen, unless I’m crossing out curse words. I prefer pencil so I can erase mistakes I make.

I also don’t set them on fire. Though there are some I wish I could. (War of the Worlds)


I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing in, underlining, and dog earring my books. It’s just something I do–an unbreakable habit. I love my books and I guess the way I show it is by writing in them.

What about you? Have you ever written in a book? Do you crack the spines of your books? Have you read any of the books I talked about? 


Where’s Glendale?

Glendale in his speedboat.
Glendale tried out a speedboat, even though he can’t swim. He told me, “it was fun, but I like Orion [his horse] better.” He also would have preferred to have a life vest.


  • Laurel

    I like your reasons! 😀 I had to write in a few books (annotate) for school and the first time I was unhappy, but then it was kind of fun. So far I haven’t written in any non-school books that way. And I was always bit to lazy to look up the vocabulary, but I think I want to start writing it my books now too! 😀

  • Emma

    This was fascinating, Allison; an enjoyable read! I don’t currently write in any books other than my personal Bible (to take notes on specific passages and occasionally summarize themes of a certain book), but I now see the value in marking up books which I own and want to remember. It would likely help me gain more knowledge/understanding from my reading and possibly aid my memory as well. 🙂
    Thanks for bringing this up for us to consider!

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