Annotating Books (Part 2)

> click here to read my first blog post on Annotating Books! <

NOTE: the pictures used in this blog post will be of the books i’ve annotated in the past. the titles of these books will not be revealed to avoid potential spoilers.

sooo… it’s been a while! i don’t really have an excuse for my absence and i’m sorry. though i think it is necessary to detach yourself from blogging sometimes, i still can’t help but feel terrible for doing it. i just love blogging so much, so it feels weird when i fall into a slump 😦 uni starts in a few days and i think i’ll be much more inclined to read and post (ironically). sometimes i need to turn away from the stress and immerse myself in what i enjoy doing for myself, which will happen when uni re-opens!

i have been on a break for more than a month and staying in all day reading and watching makes me feel nauseous (and a little down, not going to lie). i need some work to do!! something that keeps my brain racing! i guess i’m just the kind of person who needs the right amount of stress so i can make time for fun things like bookstagram and blogging. i can’t have one without the other, if you know what i mean!

but anywho! today i’m back with another post on ANNOTATING BOOKS! i have had a bunch of people on instagram ask me questions on how and why i annotate! so here’s a (not so comprehensive but hopefully helpful) guide on book annotating!

Why Do I Annotate Books?

i find the need to converse with the story and the characters! doing this allows me to take in what the author writes with more depth, which makes it so much easier to break down the story and view it in my own perspective. i feel so much more connected to the world these authors craft. it has a tremendous effect on your reading experience because you are much more involved in the story and with reading! annotating is purely for fun for me. i do write my thoughts of the book halfway through to highlight certain points. this makes me remember what i need to say when i want to write book reviews in the future (aka what the post-it notes are for!)


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Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset


How Has My Habit Of Annotating Books Change?

firstly, i no longer use tabs and highlighters! i think it’s too much work to incorporate so many different colored pen/pencil variations to my annotations (black is always my go-to). i like to underline short phrases, and draw square brackets for relatively longer sentences.



of course, using color is completely your choice. i think it would help if you’re reading for your studies or planning for book reviews, since you can decide on your own color coordinations (eg using a blue pen can mean CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, green could be associated with THEMES, yellow with NARRATIVE CONVENTIONS, etc). but personally i like to just stick with a black pen 🙂 which brings me to the next question;

What Do I Use To Annotate My Books?

i always bring a pen and a post-it note around with me. that’s it. i’ve completely abandoned sticky tabs and started dog-earing my books instead! i still have people tease me when they see me ‘ruining’ the pages of my books, but i honestly don’t care. dog-earing is absolutely charming! and it does the job just as well as sticky tabs, if not better! i don’t really have any other excuse other than it’s super convenient. it makes your copy of a book look well-loved and sort of worn out too. just the way i like it ❤




What Do I Look For When I Annotate Books?

simply nothing! i usually go into a book with the mindset that i am not going to annotate my books. this is to make myself pick up a pen when i actually want to. if i’m constantly looking for something to underline, my annotations won’t be genuine. this makes my reading experience stiff, pretentious, and perhaps even a little superficial. i don’t want to annotate a book for the sake of having something written in my book. instead of completely immersing myself with the story and the writing, i would constantly be on the hunt for poetic phrases and meaningful passages. there’s absolutely no point in that! you want to annotate books because you feel the need to, not because you think you have to. what i like to do to prevent this is make sure my stationery is out of sight (but ensuring that it is within arm’s reach when i need it), so i won’t always have to be reminded that my books are required to be annotated. i think it goes to say that you would be stuck with this mindset when you first start annotating your books, but you’ll grow used to it and annotating books will come more naturally to you!

you’d want to come across phrases that catch you off-guard, thus allowing you to form an opinion of the book. you’d want to find the need to look for your pen instead of a passage (not the other way around), especially when it comes down to annotating for book reviewing purposes,


i was asked about annotating philosophy/psychology/science books but truth be told i don’t normally pick these kinds of books up. i would still stick with the same mindset though! go into the book without holding a pen/post-its!

the closest i’ve read to philosophy is The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing The Unknown (which is pretty much a collection of short essay-type autobiography/memoir), and i tend to underline phrases that i do not particularly understand. i also like to underline passages that i can reflect on.

i try my best to slow down when i read these books so i can question the texts. i think it’s good to be a little more open-minded and curious when it comes to reading non-fiction books, because you want to take in and understand the concept and themes that revolve around these texts. i would also like to suggest using colored sticky-tabs if you need to read these books for school. this allows you to keep track of your annotations and (maybe) help you piece everything together by the end of the book! you can always re-read the book and make NEW annotation to pick up things you missed on your first read. repeating this process would help you greatly!




How Does Annotating Help Me?

as i mentioned earlier, writing my thoughts down on post-it notes can really help with book reviewing purposes! otherwise, it’s just a way of making reading a much more fun and interactive activity! i’d also like to think that it’s a way of de-stressing myself. writing down my thoughts out in general is very therapeutic for me, and it is important to de-clutter your mind by voicing out your thoughts (in this case, by writing them down on paper), and the majority of us bibliophiles would know how stressful reading a book can be! xD

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Why Should You Annotate Books?

you get to watching yourself grow as a reader. if you’re a nostalgic reader like myself, you tend to look back to the books you’ve read and annotated in the past and compare the reader you once were to the reader you are today. looking back at my first blog post on annotating books, it’s amazing to see how much i, myself, have changed. if you re-read books, you can pick up new things you missed out on the first time you read the book, and you can use different colored pens the next time you annotate the same book (i don’t do this myself, but i saw this tip on NayaReadsandSmiles‘ youtube video on how she annotates books and i think it’s a wonderful idea).

furthermore, i like to write down my favorite quotes/phrases on my journal just so i can flip through the pages of my favorite quotes from all sorts of books and it just goes to show how annotating can really make a book so so so memorable and personal to a reader ❤

so that concludes my blog post! i sincerely hope you guys take a thing or two out of this post! if not, thanks for sticking through till the very end :’) i love you all so much, and i cannot thank you enough for the immense support i’ve been getting despite my absence.

cath xx





  1. Tsarah August

    Your tips about annotating books really help and inspire me to (finally) annotate the books that I’ve been reading. As for now, I really don’t care if people look at me weird reading and annotating books in public LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Emmie

    I’m a big fan of annotating books myself but hardly know anyone else who does it so it’s a treat to read about your experiences :). And no worries about taking a break – quality content always draws people back to your blog, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Josiah BradleyOnline

    What a thoughtfully immersive post. The only books I grew up annotating was the Bible and of course textbooks. I was always afraid to annotate novels and the like. It just seemed weird to mark up the pages, even though I own them haha. I don’t review books much but thinking of annotating as making reading even MORE fun is an attractive idea. You may have made a convert out of me. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bookishsmaug

      Wow Josiah! Thank you so much :’) I’m so sorry it took me this long to reply. I’m so happy to hear that it’s made you want to annotate books too! I’m always happy to spread the love for book annotating 🙂


  4. the mad dragon hatter

    I know this is an older post, but I wanted to leave a comment any way just because I see few people annotating books. I love annotating! I totally agree, a black pen and some sticky notes are just enough. I should probably use sticky notes more often since most margins aren’t big enough for my handwriting. XD Sometimes I keep my longer notes in a journal. And I notice that I remember things from the book better when annotating. My favorite part though is flipping through the pages later when I don’t have time for a full reread and finding my favorite parts easily. Love this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eliz

      Oh wow! I really love the post. I actually got here because of a pin on pinterest and got super curious about the book you’re annotated but stayed for the the post! I love annotations as well but I did caught myself feeling sometimes burden by it. Especially in the beginning, I wasn’t reading to enjoy anymore, I was reading to annotate. But luckily I kinda found my balance in annotating and reading 😄 Still, I’m really curious about the two books. I tried to find the title by myself but I miserably failed 😅

      The first book is the book under the Neil Gaiman and starts like this: “there is no safe haven for a person that is on the edge or knows that they’re going down the wrong path to really go to and say….”.

      The second book is the book in the second last picture and one of the annotations is: “I took alot of pride in that…”


  5. Angelica aka Paperback Princess

    I’ve just recently wanted to start exploring the world of annotation and your post was really helpful and not as overwhelming as some of the YouTube videos I’ve found where there are colour coded tabs for romance, plot, character development etc. Whilst I’d definitely eventually get there, I enjoyed your post for its simplicity and more into the WHY you annotate.

    Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cups and Thoughts

      aww i’m so glad to hear that! i used to colour code my annotations but it was getting so hard to keep up with it. i hope you find your rhythm and enjoy annotating! 🙂


  6. Marie

    I’m following you on Instagram since last year. It’s really an inspiration to read more and diverse. I really think about starting annotating books, now. Your post really helps to get a feeling for the different possibilities. Thanks!
    I hope to get used to ‘ruin’ my perfect books by annotating. As you describe it, it seems worth it 😉

    Greetings from far away Germany.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cups and Thoughts

      you’re so sweet! i’m so glad you’re giving annotating a try 🙂 it definitely is worth it! hello and lots of love from australia ❤


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