In my book collection, there are so many pages with phrases underlined in pen and keywords contained inside pencilled rectangles or scallop-edged clouds. When ideas resonate, I draw hearts in the margin to later remind myself how intense the connection felt upon first reading. A single heart, two hearts, three hearts. Sometimes I colour them in to make my point.

In large part, my reading is tied to research and personal evolution. Next to certain paragraphs I’ll write notes to myself. This is huge! Or maybe I’ll jot an action to take in light of what I’ve read. A few years ago, I installed a cork board that spans most of one wall in my office. There hangs an envelope marked Quotes/Inspiration. Only the phrases that really hit home are recorded on index cards and stashed there.

In spite of my scribbles and coding, I sometimes revisit pages and wonder what was happening in my life at that time to make a particular phrase worthy of noting. What drew me to those words on that day?

I’ve begun reading Suppose A Sentence by book critic Brian Dilllon. For years, he has been filling notebooks with beloved sentences from his readings. He dates each entry. I wish I’d been so organized.

If my underlining, margin doodles and quotes could be read in chronological order, I wonder at the story they might tell. How could I be read if one peered between the lines of what I found meaningful? Someday in the very distant future, other eyes will see this evidence of who I was beneath the surface of the “me” they knew.

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Sacrifice, betrayal, family secrets! A widower and young mother struggle to overcome their tragic pasts in a dying mill town. The Last Hoffman explores environmental issues, mental health & social isolation.