A Bible text, a fountain pen, and several colorful notebooks — for a couple years I hardly every left home without them. When I would read, I took vocab and grammar notes in these wonderful little Leuchtturm 1917 pocket sized notebooks. The pages are numbered and take to fountain pen ink really well, and the binding is rock solid. They are beautiful, perfectly portable, and a just a pleasure to use.
Taking notes while reading has been a normal practice for years. I usually write down something for every word or grammatical construction that I look up. The purpose is to have a record of what what I’ve found by flipping through the lexica and to make rereading quicker. I find it more enjoyable to reference my notes via these Leuchturm notebooks than any sort of digital medium.
There have been several times, though, when I wanted to read and did not have handy the particular notebook I needed. There were times when I would run out of ink, and God forbid I use a different color or pen type. Sometimes I would have an acceptable backup non-fountain pen handy and could convince myself to use it, but this always felt wrong. The size of the notebooks, while definitely scoring points for portability, is not exactly ideal for comfortable writing. Unless I’m at the top of the page, my hand is usually halfway on and halfway off the notebook.
I suppose the biggest drawback to this mode of reading is that it is really only doable at a desk or table. If you care at all about handwriting and actually wanting to produce something you will want to look at in the future, you have to be in a position where you can set out your text, lexicon, and notebook and position yourself to write carefully. Everyone likes the idea of reading in a comfortable chair or on the couch, and you just can’t do this very well with the text and notebook approach. Maybe it would be doable if I chose a bigger notebook, but then portability suffers.
When I take reading notes now I turn to digital notebooks — I’ll post about that later this week. There is, however, one recurring thought that I feel is trying to pull me back to the little notebooks: the kids love them. They love small books in general but especially these. They think of these notebooks as kiddo-sized and appropriate for them. They just want to sit and flip through them and carry them around the house wherever they go. While I’ve always found their fondness for my vocab books cute, the more important thing is that the little colorful notebooks have made an impression upon them. Maybe they will be more likely to one day learn the languages themselves, but even if they never read a word of Hebrew, these little books will remind them of me.