In Praise of the Pencil

As a writer, but primarily as a procrastinator, I have experimented with many writing tools. I’ve read about the writing habits of famous writers, including their preferred writing instruments. Everyone knows that writers attach great importance to their writing tools and habits. Whether they write in the morning or evening, whether they write sitting up or lying down (Truman Capote could only write when he was “horizontal”), whether they compose on paper or a screen, it matters, greatly. The pencil seems the least remarkable of the writing tools we have at our disposal. A pencil is what a child is…

On Sharing Books When You’re a Margin Scribbler

There’s a general feeling among diehard book lovers that books are sacred objects and that they should remain pristine. Many dedicated readers feel this way, including my husband. My husband and I are both avid readers, and we consider an evening spent reading an evening well spent (except when Netflix gets in the way.) But we differ in how we treat our books. When I read, it is with a pencil in my hand. I like to write in the margins of my books – my reactions, connections to other things I’ve read – rarely profound, my scribblings can be as…