Do you consider yourself a bookish purist? You know the type, the one that won’t mark by bending a page or use a highlighter? Any alteration of the book is a mortal sin and even the removal of the dust jacket will get you banished from the library. Do you tear out the page that you like or make a photocopy, perhaps even dutifully scribing by hand into a Moleskine?

Like most people I’m a complicated man, sometimes I highlight, sometimes I don’t. When I do mark pages or write in the margins, I prefer using the old-fashioned pencil. There’s something immensely satisfying with pencil writing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but ink just doesn’t have that timeless feel to it. I’m in no way against pens or ink in any form or shape. I just prefer pencils.

Tonight I stumbled across this book and passage from Ian McEwan‘s novel On Chesil Beach and immediately recognized myself. Enjoy.


“She thought he was original, unlike anyone she had ever met. He always had a paperback book, usually history, in his jacket pocket in case he found himself in a queue or a waiting room. He marked what he read with a pencil stub.”

2 thoughts on “The pencil and the book

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