This is a tricky post to start because to say I am not one to annotate books is a lie, yet there is some truth to it. I heavily annotate my school/academic-related books. I have tons of tabs, highlighting and margin notes in the books I use for my thesis; however, when it comes to my leisure books, most of them have maintained pristine condition.
I have typically had the mindset that I have to keep my books pristine because they a) look better on the shelves that way and b) their values go down when annotated. Both are true; however, in the last year I have started to venture into annotating my leisure books. It has not been a lot, but I have slowly started to highlight here and there, add sticky notes and dare I even say it!- write in them… WITH PEN! And I have to say, I really like doing it. In fact, I am growing to love it more and more, so much so I want to go further. What do I mean by further? Well, I kind of want to create more of a system, I suppose. I have been watching a number of videos on BookTube recently on how people annotate their books (I have two posted below that are my personal favorites, Chloe and Spencer). What I have truly come to love is the color coding system and daring to go further with writing within the books. Typically I stick with writing a single word, or underlining a word or two; however, I would like to go further. I want to interact with the characters, join in their thoughts and conversations. I want to say why something made me laugh, cry or get angry. I want to do this so I can go back and remember why I loved (or didn’t love) a book.
A common issue I have is, after reading a good (or bad) book, I easily forget a page with a favorite quote or passage. And because I do not mark it, I have a hard time finding it. Of course, there are ways to search for more well-known quotes; however, there are times when I find a simple line that may have little importance to the story, but that I find humorous or that hits me in the gut, and it is lost until I reread the book or have a random stroke of luck and hit the right page.
So, I am continuing my venture into annotating my books. I have the start of a system that I am “testing” in my latest read, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft (edited by Tess Sharpe & Jessica Spotswood). This is what I have so far:
- Sticky Tabs & Post It Notes: I purchased a ton of sticky tabs and post it notes. The sticky tabs will label specific items on pages, while the post its I am using to write thoughts/blurbs that might be too long to write in the margins.
- Margin Notes & Underlining: This one has proven difficult for me. What I have done so far in Toil & Trouble is minimal. I write in an occasional word here and there, but am still having that hold back of not wanting to write in the books. I am though, more okay with underlining. I am not underlining long passages, but typically a word or two that stand out to me. For example, if I find a longer quote I like, I will highlight it and then underline words I think are key.
- Highlighting: Highlighting is fairly easy for me, though I worry about going too far with it. For me, I do not like the idea of highlighting and entire page because it is all so important. I think a single sticky tab to denote that is sufficient enough, but I am working fairly freely with the highlighting. I am not color coding with highlighters. I am sticky with a light yellow for everything.
- Color Coding with the Sticky Tabs: Unlike with highlighting, I am color coding with sticky tabs. I have five colors with my sticky tabs. Each color represents a different kind of marking. This is what I have chosen for my color coding: Yellow is general plot points, so if something major happens in the story or even something that is minor, yet key to the story. Blue is a line or passage that evokes a big emotional response. This could be good, bad, ugly! If it sparks something deep in the gut, I mark it with blue. Orange is for problematic or “icky” parts. What do I mean by icky? Well, it could be that it is not necessarily problematic, but I just do not like it. Moving on to green, which is for favorite quotes and passages. This one I am finding conflicts a lot with the blue tabs because sometimes they match up… still working out this issue. And finally I have pink. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to use pink for, so I have a large “!” for it. This is tab that will be used for “WTF” moments. Again, this can get a little messy with other tabs, but I like to think when I hit a section I will have that instinct of what I think works best.
This “system” I guess is very simple and nothing original so to speak, but I hope it is the start of really personalizing my books. I seldom get rid of books and there are so many I wish I had annotated when reading the first time. But there are always rereads and I cannot wait to go back and annotate those favorites of mine 😊
So I ask: Do you annotate your books? Do you have a system if you do annotate? Are you not one to annotate? If so, what is the biggest reason you don’t? I’d love to know in the comments!
FAVORITES ON ANNOTATING BOOKS
Spencer from Common Spence detailing how he annotates his books.