Friday Reads: “The Art of Marginalia” by Jocelyn Kelley and “The Psychology of Books” by Dell Smith

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There were many articles I enjoyed reading this week. The first one relates to my Wednesday post about marginalia, and it comes from Jocelyn Kelley in the Huffington Post. Kelley appreciates marginalia because it opens up a book’s possibilities and transforms the book from a valuable and pristine artifact to the book as personal diary:

Finding a book with personal notes that someone has scribbled in the margins feels like a gift. It increases the value of the book, in my opinion. These notes have changed the book from its original state (novel, biography, self-help tome) into a diary of sorts. How did certain passages resonate with a reader? What quotes did he or she find so inspiring that it needed to be highlighted? (“The Art of Marginalia“)

An example she uses in the article: Jack Kerouac’s copy of Heny David Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers has this passage underlined and checkmarked: “The traveller must be born again on the road.” Nice.

A person’s marginalia might reveal something about their thought process, but what about the psychology of how we choose what to read? Beyond the Margins author Dell Smith discusses this in his article “The Psychology of Books“:

Your desire to buy and read a book uncovers the dark hinterland of your soul. Your choices are often a reflection of your id. I can spend hours online or in a bookstore browsing the shelves (virtual and real). In person, I’ll first check the new releases (fiction, mostly) and then do a deep dive into the stacks, sometimes A to Z.

The act of choosing your next book reveals something deep, yet simple, about your personality, your desires and wishes.


I also shared several articles on Twitter throughout the week. Here are my top favorites:

Is the book a crucial cultural artifact, or just an outdated container for content? by Mathew Ingram in @paidcontent

Will Gutenberg Laugh Last? by Nicholas Carr in @roughtype

A Calm Place to Think: On Reading the Classics by Guy Patrick Cunningham in @the_millions

Better Books, Better Brains. by Lauren O’Neal, @laurenoneal

Visions Of Moby by Levi Asher (@asheresque) at

I’d love to hear from you about your own Friday Reads. What articles have you filled up you Kindles and tablets with this week? Follow me on Twitter to share your own favorite longform reading for the week.


Kevin Eagan (@KevEagan) is a freelance editor and writer living in Central Florida. He edits book manuscripts and articles for local and national publications. Critical Margins is his place to share his interests. You can also check out his professional website,