Annotating Books

I would like to start by linking the video that inspired me to start annotating my books:

Annotating Your Books – Ariel Bissett

Also check out NayaReadsandSmiles’ video on book annotations – it’s super fun!:

How I Annotate Books

You know that feeling when you’re just so overwhelmed but you can’t rant it out to anyone so you write down your thoughts instead? That’s what annotating is all about. It’s like writing in your personal diary, except there’s a story and characters in your diary and you’re conversing with them.

For the longest time, I’ve stuck to the ideology that writing in books = blasphemy. Back then, to me, it would make sense, considering I pay a hefty price for a single physical book and I wouldn’t want any scratches or creases on something that means a lot to me. But for the longest time I’ve been seeing a bunch of people who reads books as if they’ve TRULY been read. With creases all over them. Scribbles. Dog ears. Tabs. And I think to myself; my, how gorgeous do they look! It’s obvious the person who’s read it must have obviously enjoyed it! While on the other hand, books that are plastic-wrapped with nilch creases and scratches just seem like captives to me, as if they’re trapped. Show the world just how much you love a book! Looking back at your thoughts and feelings on a scene of a book is seriously the BEST thing ever. You can see how much your thinking and understanding has changed and developed. And sharing a madly tabbed book with someone else who decides to pick it out of your shelf? I can guarantee you that you two would be best friends at the end of the day.

Books without annotations just feels really sad and bleak. It’s like reading with opened eyes and a closed mind. It refrains you from achieving the maximum potential reading experience. Anyone would want the ride to be worth it and enjoyable! If you’re an avid reader and you recommend a book you loved and annotated to a friend who’s a non-reader, you would want their reading experience to be even more enjoyable by giving them a glimpse of your thoughts! It could even be a little inside joke between the two of you 😆 Pour out your thoughts and feelings on the pages of your book! Just imagine how much more interesting it is when you get to read someone else’s thoughts on a specific phrase or quote. It just makes the reading experience the merrier 😀

It doesn’t matter where you start, really! If you’re still feeling a little wary, it’s fine to go about a cautious approach! I recommend using a pencil, an erasable pen, tabs and sticky notepads!

The three ways I would annotate a book are:

  • Highlights/underlines

Whenever I come across a funny scene or a memorable quote in a book, I normally like to mark them in some way.if it’s a paragraph or a long sentence, I’d prefer to underline or use an open bracket;

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If it were relatively short, I would highlight instead. They both mean the same thing to me. It’s just a matter of saving time and ink xD




I also like to add comments! Lots and lots of them! It feels like I’m interacting with the characters that way.




(^ i swear i’m not a sociopath! >_<)


Other times, it may come from feeling too overwhelmed (please excuse my vulgar language >_<)




  • Tabs

If a page consists of an abundance of underlines/comments/highlights, i’ll choose to tab the page. It doesn’t matter what size or color (though i normally like to match he color to the book just cause xD ). If the page has only a few annotations then i’ll dog ear it. I have to conserve my tabs because I only have a limited amount xD Tabs are super useful because then you’ll know where and what your annotations are.  It’s also much easier for you to go back to your favorite quotes in the future and remember all the fun and sad late night reading sessions you spent together with the story and its characters. :’) It’s just the best thing to re-live the angst and fun banters all over again :). Like flipping through an old photo album! Bittersweet, nostalgic and heartwarming ❤


  • Post-its

Post-its are a rare occasion mostly because I use them only when I want to write a proper review of a book. I tend to write down my thoughts at that moment so I won’t forget it when I actually write the review. But these post-its aren’t always meant for critical reading – I use them when I don’t have enough space to go about writing my thoughts. The spaces in the books aren’t really meant for long rants and demanding questions, so always have a stack of these next to you while you read!








> Story time! <

I remember lending out my very first annotated book to my cousin. The book was Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, and it’s filled with silly remarks and tons of tabs. I got super emotional while reading the story and I couldn’t believe that i was actually writing on my book, but I couldn’t stop myself. My thoughts just felt like they were so bottled up I had to let it out somehow. I felt free and somewhat courageous 😮 . It was amazing. By the end of the book, I was at ease. And I did not regret scribbling permanent ink on what became my favorite contemporary novel. Not one bit. Within two days of lending out the book, I received a message from my cousin along with a picture of one of my annotations. The photo of the page she sent was talking about Miles (the male protagonist in the book) and his looks – something about him being lanky and tall, if O remember correctly. And I wrote down a comment saying something along the lines of “my favorite traits! 😮 ❤ ” and the message that my cousin sent to me was: “hah! now i know your kink. 😉 ” and honestly that took me completely off guard! My laugh came out unexpectedly loud and embarrassing! xD I was walking down the elevator in a mall and i swear everyone’s eyes were on me 😮 . I hadn’t expect her to comment on my annotations, but how fun is that?! How great is it to be able to connect better with someone who’s reading a book you love that’s filled with your thoughts?

Looking back now, I have no idea how I ever read without annotating my books once. My reading experience must have been pretty bleak! :/ But now, writing in books is the best part of my reading experience. You’re giving the book so much more value and sentiment. You’re showing people how well you lived in that book and how much you got out of it. There’s really no harm done when it comes to annotating books. You’re getting more from writing in your pages and risking battered copies of books rather than keeping them clean and pretty. Besides, I’ve always preferred rustic, hectic looking bookshelves over ones that are organised and neat xD

There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to annotate your books – it’s completely your choice. What i’m reinforcing here is not the fact that everyone should have to annotate books. I’m here to just try to encourage the lot of you out there who wants to start annotating books in general or is wary of doing so because it is disfavoured amongst the majority of the book community.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you have absolutely nothing to be afraid of (to any non-readers out there reading this post, do understand that writing in our books is a huge step for most of us readers). Change can be scary, but this might possibly be the only change you’ll need in your whole reading life.

So come join us in the dark side 👿 We have tea, cupcakes, and a whole bunch of pens you can choose from to start annotating your books with.

On that note, I do genuinely hope that this post has been somewhat helpful!

>UPDATE: Click here for Part 2!<




  1. viajandoentrehistoria

    Ariel’s video also inspired me to start annotating in my books. I wish I’ve done it before.There is this really awesome essay How to mark a book by Mortimer Adler, about making your books you own. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

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