#1 Don’t reveal the ending
As in the case of the copy of V.S. Nipaul’s A Bend in the River that I recently checked out, avoid warning us about a character who will ultimately betray the protagonist and how it will happen.
#2 Don’t write racist remarks in the margins
Such as “Unfortunately, the So. Afr. whites have some reason in saying the blacks are like children: another hundred or two hundred years are needed to civilize them.” I’ll tell you who is uncivilized. It’s the person who writes bigoted things about people from other countries in the margins of public library books!
#3 Don’t spread your ignorance
If you see a particularly interesting portion of text, feel free to note it. But don’t lecture us on things you obviously don’t know much about. By highlighting a conversation about obligations, and writing “this is Africa,” you completely undermine the complexity of the novel and the complexity of the wildly different countries within that continent.
#4 Use pencil, lightly
Don’t write with pen or etch your writing with pencil so deeply into the book that you break through the pages. Give us better equipped readers the opportunity to erase your ideas from future readers’ minds.