Saturday, June 25, 2011
Notes on a book
I had the thought that I should keep a notebook with each book I'm reading to jot down notes when the book has a quote I really like or something that seemed profound or interesting comes along that I really want to remember. I wonder, for instance, when someone writes an article about the most interesting first lines of a book - how did they remember those? Did they go back through all the books they'd read? or did they keep a list while they were reading? In some books, I think it would be beneficial to write down the characters as they are introduced so I can keep them straight as to who-is-who. Books with complicated family schemes are always nicer when they print the family tree on the inside cover. If I wrote down the characters and a brief statement about them, I might not have so much trouble confusing who is who when there are two or more similar looking foreign names. When audio books first came out, I listened to"Hunt for Red October" and couldn't keep any of the Russian names straight.
So, from the last book I just read, "Snow flower and the secret fan" (which was a wonderful book), I would have noted that I learned about the secret writing of Chinese women called "nu shu" and about "laotongs" which were something like the perfect matched friend. A very small and insignificant mention of facial hair in moles has also stayed with me - and I bet its true since the author did so much historical research. I couldn't find the passage again, because I didn't write it down in a notebook - so I can't quote verbatim, but... In China, the longer the hair from a facial mole, the wiser you were seen to be. I'll forget all the important things, but I'll remember that one.