Hello and welcome back to the blog, today I wanted to do a discussion based post about annotating books. I’ve been thinking about this a little bit lately because I’m currently reading the first novel for my English course. We’re doing Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson and though I’ve read it before I decided I needed to have it be fresh in my mind for class. This time reading through though I’ve been annotating the book a bit. At one point I’d been hesitant to annotate books because I’d always been taught to treat books like utterly precious entities. However now I feel that’s not entirely true and annotating books with your thoughts and feelings about it is not doing any harm to the book, in fact it is giving it another layer of life.
This is not my first time annotating books, in fact I’ve tried annotating and thought about annotating books a lot in the past, mainly when one of my favourite booktuber posts a video about how they annotate books. A couple of favourites include; Ariel Bissett’s Annotating Your Books, Catriona of Little Book Owl’s How I Annotate Books and Chloe of Books With Chloe’s How I Annotate My Books.
In the past I have tried a different methods. I’ve used coloured sticky tabs to mark certain things such as if I thought something was funny, this was paired with using black pen to write in the margins and underline things. However this method had its drawbacks for me. Firstly the tabs often fell out if I transported the book anywhere and sometimes they wouldn’t stick in the first place. Also I hated how my handwriting looked, I thought it always looked messy and I never had enough room in the margins to write.
Next I tried restricting myself to just underlining and small comments, I also introduced using a bracket for long bits I wanted to note. However because I’d stopped using the sticky notes, finding the annotation was difficult. Also I still didn’t love the look of black pen.
Then I moved to using a different coloured pen, I’m pretty sure it was purple. I also got some normal sized sticky notes. I continued the underlining, bracketing and small comments, but I also used sticky notes for larger comments, basically anything more then three words. I stuck the sticky notes on the margins of the page so they wouldn’t obscure any text.
Most recently I switched from pen to pencil, I just prefer the look of it and I think it is smoother on the paper. Also for Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit I have been doing a brief summary note at the beginning of the section so at a glance I can get the basics of what’s happening in each chapter.
I enjoy annotating books, I think it gives them something unique and you can leave a little of yourself in the book. I don’t annotate every book I read, normally I don’t annotate first time reads unless it’s for school, as I find I get too focused on annotating rather then the story and tend not to enjoy it. Annotating re-reads is fun though, because I already know I like the story and I am familiar with it. Also because I have a better understanding of the story I can pick up on foreshadowing. However I don’t annotate every book I re-read either because sometimes I just don’t want to and other times it’s because the edition I have is precious to me and I don’t want to mark it.
The process of annotating books is not only a very personal one but in my opinion an ever changing one, who knows if I’ll still annotate books the same way in a couple of years or if I’ll even still annotate at all.
Do you annotate books? If so how? Let me know in the comments.