50 Significant Things That You Should Collect When You Read

Unsplash / Les Anderson
Unsplash / Les Anderson

1. Favorite quotes.

2. Gorgeous prose.

3. Bad prose.

4. Lines that make you laugh.

5. Lines that make you cry.

6. Lines you wish you had written.

7. Scenes that make you wonder how the hell this book got so popular.

8. Place names.

9. Character names.

10. Obscure words (the word for a collector of words is sesquipedalian).

11. Words you derive the meaning of from their context.

12. Moments when you know what will happen next.

13. Moments where you thought you knew and were surprised.

14. Moments that made you put the book down.

15. Where you were, who you were with, what was going on around you while you were reading.

16. Recommended further reading.

17. Settings.

18. Drinks mentioned.

19. Drugs mentioned.

20. Number of drinks taken.

21. Bad sex scenes.

22. Language that just wouldn’t fly today.

23. Lines that will make you sound smart.

24. Feelings you’ve had your whole life you’re only just finding the words for in someone else’s work.

25. Words of comfort.

26. Words that disturb.

27. Words a good friend needs to hear right now.

28. Moments that make you say, “I could have thought of that.”

29. References to historical/ current events. (I recently found a scene in Watchmen based on an obscure and brutal prison riot in New Mexico, the details of which I DO NOT recommend Googling.)

30. References to other works of literature and art.

31. Outright theft of other works of art.

32. The sources of later references.

33. Parallels and cross pollination to other stuff you’re reading.

34. Moments that make you see the limits of verbal storytelling.

35. Moments that make you believe there are no limits.

36. Questions for the author.

37. Questions for a character.

38. Questions for yourself, the reader.

39. Food mentioned.

40. Brand names.

41. Celebrities and historical figures name-dropped.

42. Scenes that were better or worse in the movie.

43. What you liked.

44. What you hated.

45. Notes on an impossible sequel.

46. Who you’d cast in the movie.

47. Life lessons.

48. Songs mentioned.

49. Books mentioned.

50. Number of times a given word appears. (David Foster Wallace does a hilarious take-down of John Updike in which compares the number of words devoted to the description of a golf course to the very few words describing the end of the world for which the course is a metaphor.) TC mark

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