As I read books, I try to jot down any words I encounter with meaning unknown or unclear to me. Later I look these words up, in the hopes of Increasing My Word Power and allowing me to understand novels written by Don DeLillo. That’s the idea, anyhow. Back in the good old days I would write unfamiliar words on the inside of the back cover, but now that I have become a Cheap Bastard and get all my books from the library this is no longer an option. For a while I lugged around a small notebook for this purpose, but it didn’t take long to lose that. And I’ve often thought about carrying a Palm Pilot to record words, but the downside with this plan is that it would require me to carry a Palm Pilot and then I would be a dork. What to do?
Well, this is my newest cockeyed scheme. I whipped up some bookmarks, printed them onto card stock (which turned out to be unneccesary — regular weight paper works fine), cut them out and now use while reading, one per book. Each section on the bookmark has three fields: the first for the word itself, followed by a small dash where you can write the page number where you found it. Below this are two lines where you can either write the definition or the context in which the word was found. Each section also has a small box in the upper-right hand corner.
This is how I’m using them. I record unknown words as I read, look them up after I’ve finished the book and write the definitions down in the space provided. Then I tape the bookmark to the side of my computer monitor. Whenever I manage to use one of the words (in email or whatever) I check the box to reflect this fact. In this way I do all three of the things that I have found are necessary for me to retain the memory of new words: looking it up, writing it down, and employing it in conversation.
*shrug* I dunno, it might work. The bookmarks are pretty useful, but my use of them is currently desultory at best. (Woohoo! Checkmark!) Here’s a PDF file of the bookmarks if you’d like to try this system for yourself.
Let me get this straight: You're a dork if you use a palm pilot, but not a dork if you design and make your own bookmarks?