The Fourfold Book Index

How I Take Book Notes

I have a pretty idiosyncratic book notes system. I learned it from my high school English teacher about 10 years ago. 

She introduced me to this system, and to a bunch of books that have stuck with me all these years. But she and I didn’t start out well. 

She was demanding, and I was unfocused and determined to skate by while doing the minimum amount of work. English class had always been pretty easy for me, and so at the beginning of the semester I consistently showed up unprepared — having slapped together the homework at the last minute, or having skipped the reading but confident I could pretend to pontificate about it anyway.

To her this was unacceptable — she was tough, and her rage was volcanic. The little details mattered to her. It was imperative to read closely, and deeply, and to understand both the logical structure and the deeper meaning of the books we were reading. There was no skating by in her class.

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