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books and annotations and 3 reasons to do so ~

When you buy a new book and feel the crispy bliss of those hundred pages on your fingertips when you hear the rustle, the soft flipping, and especially when you realize the world that they hold, the magic that courses through each letter…each word, all you want to do is devour the book, and tuck it back safely in your bookshelf – looking all pristine, new, and untouched: like we fanatic bookworms like to put it “well taken care of.”

I used to be horrified when I saw someone write on a book, even if it was something as sweet and innocent as a small note. But when I went back to re-visit one of my old favorite stories, I wished with all my heart to know what I felt when I had first read it, and the only way to do that was penning down my emotions and thoughts on the book, as I went; but being an avid reader and a book lover, it was a no go for me until I stumbled across an essay a year or so ago – “How to Mark a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler, and it changed my life.

In his essay, Mortimer says, There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best-sellers—unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns wood-pulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books—a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many—every one of them dog-eared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled in from front to back. (This man owns books.)”

A book is like a diary.

When you read it and scribble your feelings on the margins, you make it your own. And when you re-read it, you are transferred back to the moment you first experienced it. By annotating, you not only share a piece of your mind but you immortalize a moment.

Besides, when I pick up an old second-hand book and brush my hands along the broken spine, try to decipher the crooked words on the corners, and straighten the dog-eared corners – the book feels read, lived, and loved. And it is such an exhilaratingly blissful feeling, that it cannot be put into words.

now here are three reasons why you should annotate books:-

~ an immersive experience ~

Annotating means actively interacting with the story, the plot, and the characters. Reading in itself is a very immersive experience, but when you actually take down notes, you are awake while reading it. And of course, there are books which you read for relaxation before falling asleep but then there are some which deserved to be not just read but experienced and that’s when you want to dig out a pencil and flow with the story.

~ time saver ~

If you are in a hurry and looking up some important quotes, favorite paragraphs, or facts: just flipping through the annotations helps. Moreover, when you annotate, you remember the when and where of whatever it is that you looking for.

~ leaving a mark ~

Everyone wants to leave a mark on this world, and I have seen innumerable readers confess that it’s one of the biggest reasons why they annotate books. And just think about it – when you are gone, someone will pick up your book and experience that story through your eyes and read your thoughts, and for a moment…just a moment, your experience comes alive.

Annotating is an extremely personal process and is exclusive to each person. It depends on the reader and how they choose to interact with the text and make their markings. There is no “right” way to annotate a book. It’s a customizable process, but here are a few ways that might give you some ideas: –

  • Using highlighters.
  • Sticky-notes/tabs if writing on the book bothers you.
  • Just a usual pen to underline important lines/ dog-ear pages.
  • Creating symbols and your own key.

I hope that I could change your mind about annotations, and hopefully, as per Mortimer, you will one-day own books, as opposed to just wood-pulp and ink. Just remember that books deserved to be loved too; they might dislike being treated as showcases and kept on immaculate bookcases.

let me know what you think of annotating and what’s your favorite form of annotating!

74 thoughts on “books and annotations and 3 reasons to do so ~

  1. Yes! I love annotating my books!
    I used to be scared of doing so and would be very careful reading my books, but now I scribble in them.
    Whenever I get a new book, I break out my Zebra highlighters and my beloved cactus shaped pen and I get to work, writing all my thoughts and emotions, restricted only by the amount of margin available

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And I’ve also decided that I’m going to draw in my books!
    Like, in the space that’s sometimes there when a new chapter starts, and the previous page has only a couple sentences on it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t annotate in the book coz I like my books mark-free. But i hsve this copy where i write down notes, fav quotes and if its a mystery/thriller I have conspiracy theories and murderer theories.
    Cool post!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t usually annotate books, because most of them are gifts and I don’t like writing in it and making it a different thing from the original, but this makes me wanna do it. But I do fold a few pages, when I want to re-read some moments (maybe the moment when my favorite ship from the book actually gets real ). This post is so nice, I was hooked onto it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is a lovely post! I especially like reason number 3 – I buy most of my books secondhand and I think the marks of other readers makes them even more special 📚❤️ X x x

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I LOVED THIS POST SO MUCH, ASHMITA! As someone who primarily reads ebooks, I don’t own many physical copies especially since they’re really expensive where I live. Most of the ones I do have are dog-eared to mark quotes and such, but I had recently stopped doing that. But reading your post makes me want to start annotating them again! I loved what you said about leaving a mark and experiencing the journey! And reading those annotated books years later would seriously be so much fun! Thank you so much for this post! ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. While im not totally against annoting, although the « inherited » part of me don’t wanna write in the book, I mainly only read before bed as it’s the only time it gets quiet enough for me to concentrate.. hence the problem 😅

    Maybe I should just try highlighting though 🤔 i hate not being able to find back my loved quotes.. and im too lazy rewriting them- though sometimes I do in my goodreads notes

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My brother has pretty much the same view on books. I don’t think he actually writes in his but his books are often a bit waterlogged from when he took them on one of his trecks or have bitemarks and are dogeared. He was positively offended when my mother bought him a new set of Lord of the Rings for his birthday because she thought that he might like a copy that he can read without having to worry about pages that are basically falling out.
    I sometimes highlight sections I like in ebooks but not really in my physical books. I know about the romantic notion of making a book suck up all the feelings that you’ve had when reading it but I never feel like writing in them when I’m reading. It kinda interrupts my reading flow. Whatever do people really write in those books anyway?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. i love annotating books! 💙 lately i haven’t been reading all that much, but whenever i do, i always make notes in the margins, and dog ear my favourite bits. (it’s so fun looking back on those favourited parts!) i used to be scared about writing in my books, but once i started doing it, i couldn’t stop. 🤩


    Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved the introspective and blissful tone of this post. I share your love for reading books but have never gone so far as to annotate in them. I have done the dog ears, but that’s mainly because I am too lazy to go hunting for a bookmark. The most I’ve done, beyond that, is label the book as my own as I’ve learnt that the combination of being a generous book-lender and a forgetful person makes me forget which books I lent to whom😅. Anyway, thanks for the wonderful post.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I definitely never would have considered this in the past, but your post has convinced me that annotating books is a good idea! Thank you for sharing this perspective 💗 I can see myself using sticky notes next time I read, I’m not ready for pen though haha

    Liked by 1 person

  12. thank you so much ariel! i hope you have a lovely time annotating!! and haha, don’t worry i started out with a pencil. it does help if your think about what you want to annotate in your head and if after reading a few pages you still want to do it then you can go back and do that. there are fewer chances of regret that way. <33


  13. oh my that sounds like such an incredible reading experience! 😂😂 i would be offended too. i think at this point those worn-out books are the pride of my bookshelves. that is totally understandable. annotating ebooks is just so much easier. and i agree about the flow. i hate to stop to write and carefully underline stuff. so i usually do it while re-reading an old favorite. i don’t annotate all the books. 😅 i think they mostly just write silly stuff or things which they are reminded of. or maybe just a lil bit of their reaction. maybe predictions? idk it depends from person to person. happy reading to you! <33

    Liked by 1 person

  14. 😂 totally understandable. in my defense, i don’t annotate as easily as i talk about it. 😂 i just like the idea of it and i ONLY annotate my favorite books while re-reading them.
    maybe. that’s a good way to start! or you can just scribble at the end the page numbers or something. many people do that. happy reading Kristina! <33

    Liked by 2 people

  15. THANK YOU SO MUCH ANOUSHKA!! I tend to read a lot of ebooks too! and i totally agree. it’s crazy expensive here too lol. i hope you start to annotate them again! it’s an amazing feeling when you go back to it after days! i know!! your welcome! <33 thank you so much for reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. yeah. it does. if you maintain a notebook it serves the same purpose. i feel like its better in a way. i mean just imagine carrying just that notebook and you will be able to re visit so many stories at once. you wont even have to carry tons of books for your fav quotes or whatever. i am low key jealous 😂😂


  17. I would never write or highlight a book! Or dog-ear the pages, or break the spine of a book. I collect books, and I was in the collectible book business for years, and highlights and other marks destroy a book’s monetary value, if any. But I just couldn’t scribble in even a paperback. It’s just engrained into me. That’s why I love reading on kindle because I can annotate and highlight to my heart’s content.


  18. Btw, after reading this post, I hate every single book I own 🙂. Because they’re all spotless and somehow u made me believe that they shouldn’t be and now i can’t even look at my shelf anymore 🙂🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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