I very much agree with this approach. I have used a similar method for many years. And yes, by all means, throw out your yellow highlighter! Get something more elegant. I like a red pencil along with a fine, black pen for marginal notes.
In the previous post I interviewed Dave Mahan on poetry. Dave mentioned a formative teacher in Peter Hawkins. Here is a short video where Hawkins talks about a number of things, but I want to draw your attention to “careful reading” and really falling in love with great texts.
From 2013 to 2016, print revenue climbed 5 percent, while e-book sales dropped 17 percent in 2016 alone. As the story put it, “Book publishers are giving an advance review of the industry’s future, and it looks a lot like the past.”
I read quite a bit of history which puts me in touch with lots of dead people.
It struck me that those who don’t read history, but mainly surf the Net or watch TV for the latest “news” of the day, are not confronted enough with important truths like one’s mortality. Everyone for the most part they come in contact is alive. It’s a big disadvantage to be mostly in touch with living people.
“I find that poetry helps. You can’t zoom through poetry; it forces you to slow down, think, concentrate, relish words and phrases. I now try to begin each day with a selection from George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, or R. S. Thomas.”
The rest is below (HT: Thomas Kidd’s email letter)
I came up with “Moore’s Law of Literature” about a year ago.
It is quite simple, and so far, always accurate.
Here’s how it works. I take the total number of pages a book has, so in the case of The Last Days of Socrates by Plato, we have 183. I divide this by 2 so 91.5. If the total of my marginal notes exceeds 91.5 then it is a formative book. In the case of The Last Days of Socrates I made 102 marginal notes.
Fortunately, even the modern books I’ve read this past year have all passed the test. If I went back over a lifetime of reading there would be many books that would not.