I know what you’re thinking, and I’d like to start this post by saying that what I decide to do with the books I own is my choice and doesn’t harm you in any way 😉
Okay, now that that is out of the way: hello friends! Chances are that this isn’t the first time you’ve heard me say that I love to annotate my books. In fact, I wrote a whole post about how my annotation process helps facilitate my review process last year!
Angelica @ Paperback princess
Kal another amazing post. If you can do another which gets into the nitty gritty of what you actually annotate would be so helpful!
What Kinds of Things Do I Annotate?
The short answer: whatever comes to mind! Ultimately, my notes serve different functions and serve as breadcrumbs for my brain. Basically all of the random thoughts and reactions that I have while reading get written down for better or worse.
Responses to the Author
A large amount of my notes are my reactions to things in the text itself! A main way that I engage with and discuss the books I read is through my emotions and how the book makes me feel.
“Reading can be a two-way experience. Writing your thoughts in your book is like a conversation with the author. With yourself.”
I don’t know why the idea of conversing with the text speaks to me on a visceral level, but Mrs. Robinson said the above to my A.P. English class in 2002 and it changed my life. And as a re-reader, I love having a time capsule into how the book made me feel on previous reads.
Actual notes from Kingdom of Back (spoiler-free)
“This writing is magical.”
“You’d know, my dude.”
“Remember the blood.”
“I hate him so much.”
“I adore this sibling relationship so much! It captures the deep bond, but also the
“Don’t trust the gaslighter!”
“Oh hell no.”
“This is truly heartbreaking.”
“I feel like I’m wrapped into a fairy tale.”
As you can see… a lot of my notes are reactions to The Patriarchy. The kinds of reactions I have are often impacted by the narrative style (first person = me taking things WAY personally!). Honestly, I could probably do a 101 Thoughts I Had While Reading X post for every book I read!
My habit of noting my emotions while reading is a big reason that my reviews often discuss how books make me feel. I read to escape, to explore, to learn – and I love talking about this aspect of the reading experience.
Questions and Clues
I’ve always been an analytical reader and enjoy piecing together the breadcrumbs authors leave behind in the text. I notice a lot, and because I make notes of things that I think will be important later I don’t forget about things either. Which is why I have the unfortunate skill of guessing the murderer in the first chapter when I read mysteries and thrillers (and why I don’t let predictability affect my rating usually).
For obvious reasons, I will not include specific examples of questions and clues. But here are some actual notes in this category without specifying which books they are from.
“No one is as they appear.”
“Are [redacted] tricksters in mythology?”
“Why are they having so many money problems?”
“How much time is passing?”
“That’s why she was scared of him.”
“Interesting, maybe [redacted] was lying all along.”
“Girl, what’s with your memory?”
“So wait, when did this happen? Did we jump time? HELP.”
“Wait this was mentioned before. CLUE!”
Basically if I think that a thing is important, I underline it and write a note in the margins. A lot of times I reference something from earlier… I just like trying to piece things together! And I am also confused… it helps me contextualize how easy a book is to understand when writing a review as well.
Themes or Analysis
I read very closely and tend to approach everything as if it is my next Honors Thesis topic, mostly because I enjoy digging into themes. I’ll also make notes about specific themes I notice that I will want to discuss in my review.
“Parallels loss of innocence.”
“Shows how systems of power are maintained for generations.”
“Morality and justifications of power.”
“Beautiful allegory for taking back your power from an abuser.”
Sometimes I even get super into it and create a color-coded key for my notes, as seen in the above timelapse for my copy of Oedipus.
Lines for my Reviews
I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but a decent amount of my review comes to me while reading. Lines will spark in my mind that I need to write down before the thoughts slip away! It can get annoying because I will be reading and all of a sudden a fully formed and often eloquent thought perfect for my review takes over my brain, and I need to write it down before it is lost forever.
I’ve been doing this for half of my life now… long before I began reviewing books and long after the need for writing essays. Annotating is a part of me and I love leaving pieces of myself on the pages through my thoughts. I love nothing more than a well-loved copy of a book!
I hope you found this deep dive into the kinds of notes I take while reading interesting and thanks so much for stopping by!
What are your thoughts on writing in books? Do you view them as sacred and needing to be kept in pristine condition?
Let’s go on another adventure together!