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!