For years I read with a highlighter in hand. It wasn’t because I was scouring textbooks in anticipation of an upcoming exam. Instead, I usually wanted to capture phrases and sentences from novels that were so beautifully written or inspirational that they needed to be isolated and cataloged somehow. So, I’d drag my lemon, lime, or passionfruit marker across a passage and then bend the corner of a page. Like a biologist collecting specimens, I knew that years down the road, I could flip through the shelved novel & easily revisit that author’s captivating prose. Some books were oozing with color. Others received only intermittent striping–and ultimately didn’t find a home on my “keeper” bookshelf.
Then, I tried a Kindle.
My highlighting hand wasn’t sure what to do with itself, but soon I discovered I was able to highlight and export all those beautifully written passages into a single csv file. Some authors, like Lindsay Faye, Amor Towles, or William Kent Krueger resulted in rows and rows of captivating sentences in a spreadsheet. Other authors (who shall remain nameless in this post), might only get one or two lines.
Like a treasure chest full of valuables, I’ve now compiled a binder with gorgeous descriptive language from authors whose work I admire. I now find myself reaching for my bookshelf to grab that binder when I run face-first into a writer’s block. Talk about inspiration! The bad news is that my trophy shelf, featuring preservation-worthy novels, has remained largely unchanged–though I’ve continued to read some definite keepers.
Something has been lost with the Kindle, but something has definitely been gained. I’ll slowly begin to share some of my favorite quotes