Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Love, scribbles, and margins

Sometimes, books borrowed from libraries prove to be rather interesting – you lay your hands on unknown authors and surprising topics. However, the book I’m currently reading, Alain de Botton’s Essays in Love, is proving to be interesting in ways more than one. Of course, it’s a rather interesting book – a non-fiction in the guise of fiction – where the two central characters are essentially used to emphasize and illustrate the emotions associated with falling in and out of love. Love itself is clinically dissected and various philosophical thoughts are liberally used with much deadpan humor. I’m halfway through the book and enjoying it. Besides what the book is about, however, there’s another interesting thing about the copy in my hand. A previous reader (a much involved and love-struck, I assume) has, with his/her pencil, made marks in the margin (scribbled stars) where he/she found it rather affecting. What’s even more interesting is that the stars have grown in number (much like the movie star ratings) according to the degree of emotion the person felt at the time of reading it. For example, a line like “Stendhal believed that love could be brought about only on the basis of a fear of losing the loved one…” managed to get one star, but the line “Albert Camus suggested that we fall in love with people because, from the outside, they look so whole, physically whole and emotionally ‘together’ – when subjectively, we feel dispersed and confused.” managed to get three stars. At places, the sentences have also been underlined (which is probably pretty common), the stars have grown in size (this must be unique), and a smiley has appeared (a result of too much chatting?). And finally, as if to sum up, on the last page there is also a list of important page numbers that this reader has made based on his/her reading and scribbled a line above the list that read, curiously enough, as “time wasting proposal” (whatever that means!).

Needless to say, this reader’s antics have heightened my reading pleasure. I personally don't like scribbling in the margins, but I'm ready to waive off for this margin-scribbling reader who seemed rather besotted with the whole idea of love. The author of the book must have been happy to find such a curious and keen reader who he’d been able to affect in such profound ways. I, for one, would have been.