Annotate Your Books: Creating A More Thoughtful Reading Experience

As soon as we hear the word “annotate” we associate it with academic papers, the like and research or literary analysis of some kind. Not always the most fun, but couple that with reading a book in a genre you love and I believe, it can leave you reflecting on even more as a reader. The act of reading books however, can often feel like a personal, solitary experience…but at the same time they have the extraordinary power to relay so much through something as simple as words! Which is why today’s discussion on 24hr.YABookBlog is all about annotating books (that we read for fun) and how it can make a more thoughtful reading experience.

It’s often been said that engaging with the text of a book through annotating can be almost like a conversation between the author and us the reader…and that’s exactly how I approach annotating (even critical reading)…it identifies this deeper exchange of the ideas, story and execution of said ideas that I can interpret and take in through the pages.

This isn’t exactly a guide, but more a discussion on how annotating contributes to your reading experience.

Acts as a “Time Capsule” of your opinions during the time

Genuinely believe this is the most memorable part of annotating! I know if I revisit a book or reflect on it, naturally I won’t view it the same way or have the same opinions every single time. Reviewing your annotated book is like a diary of your reading experience and you can see what stuck out to you upon the initial read. While thoughts and feelings may have changed, this can take you back to that specific era of when you were reading the book.

In the digital era, its nice to have something tangible where you can look back on a particular read, seeing what stuck with you at the time. Speaking of digital, there’s something that’s become a staple of my reading the last few years that I mention rarely on the blog, but what’s been incredibly helpful is what I call “stream of consciousness” note-taking, basically a more convenient way to write my thoughts without writing in my book. Its basically what I call a “brain dump” where any idea, quote or reflection that pops into my head I jot it down. It becomes super helpful when reviewing too!

Allows you to chronicle or track different parts of the book that matter to you

Originally falling in love with annotation during my booklr days, what stuck out to me was how different everyone’s annotation styles would be. It not only gave me inspiration, but also got me thinking more about what’s significant to me as I’m reading a book. But remember that can change on the book, it doesn’t have to be the same types of key annotations (you can switch it up however you choose)

I try to change up the highlighter colors for my annotation legend, try to match elements I believe will be present in the book (like favorite quotes, description, themes). Overall though, I think the most about what will be of interest for me personally in annotating and what draws me to the novel!

Exploring grander thoughts or ideas in real time

As we’re reading we make connections, absorb ourselves in the author’s prose, engage with the story and annotating can have us mark down all those thoughts then & there. I’d appreciate if I did this more often when annotating, but having sticky notes and writing down paragraphs between chapters has been a fantastic way to note theories, current ideas and any other thoughts I have at the current page.

For instance with the last Glass Alliance novel from Joanna Hathaway (a fantastic series btw), I used specific tabs to note on themes and ideas relating to the political-heavy and centered world-building or to specify key points across the novel that were built on (like the Ali and Athan’s arcs, with how the war was impacting them).

This strategy I used mainly because Southern Sun, Northern Star was the finale to a series & there were consistent threads across each book that were introduced even more through book 3.

Its all about having fun

What can make annotating so rewarding overall, is how you cater it to what you want to do and never forget, its all about having fun. Make the legends that work for you, use specific colors or maybe only one, doodle, write in the margins, use sticky notes, whatever makes the reading experience meaningful for you is all that matters 📝💗

➙ For further reading, I recommend these wonderful posts from fellow bloggers about annotating and offered inspiration for this post as well: @TheWordyHabit, @YourWordsMyInk, for further inspiration check out Caitlyn from @Teatimelit’s post about annotating If We Were Villains from M.L. Rio

What are your thoughts on annotating books? Do you often apply it to your own personal library? How do you decide what to highlight or mark as you read? Any other ways annotation adds to the reading experience?

10 thoughts on “Annotate Your Books: Creating A More Thoughtful Reading Experience

    1. Its always a different experience with each book too which makes it fun & yes, with fantasy books it always feels like a bigger conversation between me & the author’s words, especially when diving into the world + al the characters! 🤭

      & me too, I wish I had the time to create a system for every book I’m reading!🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great post! This was such an interesting read. I like to annotate as I read too, but I don’t like writing or highlighting in my physical books, so I have a separate place where I note down my thoughts, reactions and any favorite quotes. Ebooks are much easier to annotate since kindle has the feature inbuilt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that sounds like a great system, especially if you don’t want to ruin the book, I’ve done that so many times in the past by keeping a notebook on the side! 😍 I don’t have an ereader but I’ve heard there’s lots of convenient ways to annotate that way too, especially to mark favorite quotes & such!


  2. This post has definitely cemented the fact that I would love to give annotating a go, I love the idea that it can make you think deeper and have a conversation with the author as you said. It feels like a more elevated reading experience as you get an additional aspect from reading. Plus, rereading annotations would be so much fun!
    Thank you for this post, it has been a great reminded for me to take the leap1

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Sophie I hope you find time to give it a try! & AHH so glad my post inspired 🥰🤭 I can’t remember exactly what got me to think of annotating that way, but that’s how I view it now & it always adds to the experience, definitely!


  3. This post was honestly so insightful, and it made me think of how I tend to annotate my own books! Sometimes, when I’m really excited for a particular read, I read little snippets throughout the day and mark the pages that intrigued me the most. However, looking at annotating as a way to take a breather and analyze one’s feelings towards the overall story is a really great idea. I’ll probably end up doing this with one of my future reads 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? I want to find more time to mark quotes & passages that get me to analyze the book more because it gets me thinking about deeper thoughts/opinions on a book for sure! But I know how time consuming it can be 😅 Highly recommend giving it a try, I’d love to hear how it works for you. & THANK YOU, I really appreciate your thoughtful comment Aster! 💗


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s