I started annotating books (my hot take on tabbing, highlighting and writing in books)

Hello! I know, I know, this is new. For a very long time I have said I hate writing in books, or highlighting them, but, I have been converted. Very recently I started annotating books, and now I’m here to talk about it.

So first, I present to you, The Methods:

The first of The Methods (yes I will keep capitalising those words) is Tabbing (and that too). This, I think is the most preferred one, since it leaves no damage to the book, and they can be taken off easily. Tabbing is pretty easy, all it takes is a bunch of, you guessed it, tabs, and you leave one on each quote you phrase you want to remember. An added bonus is that you get to play with them while you read.

I was doing this for my most recent read, A Thousand Splendid Suns, (which I have now finished and which broke my heart), and it was so much fun just messing with those tabs while reading.

A lot of people have specific colours with specific meanings, my brain unfortunately does not work quite so hard, so I just used the colours that matched the book cover 😅 I used 2 colours for A Thousand Splendid Suns, orange and yellow, which is more than I usually use.

I’m also planning rereading An Emotion of Great Delight soon, which I will also tab but probably not highlight since it is signed and I dont want to ruin it.

Ok onto Method number 2:

This one I have only recently summoned up the courage to do, and even then only with erasable highlighters 😅 This method can be very scary for a lot of us who treasure our books with our whole beings, and hate to see them ruined.

Pros? It looks a lot neater than tabbing books, which I know a lot of people don’t like the look of, and you feel as you’ve read those words with so much more depth. Cons? You could argue that it “ruins” a book, and some people, including myself, really don’t like even the barest scribble in their books.

I do think though that highlighting in books is a good way to annotate for people who argue that its their book anyway so they can do what they want with it, which is a fair point (although if you start breaking the spine on purpose we need to talk), and you also can’t see outwardly that it’s been annotated which can be quite helpful for some people.

And now Method number 3:

*GASP* This one is still terrifying to me, I can’t bring myself to write in a book. I’ve only done it twice, once for Romeo and Juliet for school, and once in The Secret History because I had some thoughts on that book. Speaking of which, I want to talk soon about Dark Academia, and everything surrounding it. Anyway, thats not the point. Writing in books to me feels really unnatural and a little odd, but I do know that a lot of people do do it, and they really enjoy it, and I mean fair play.

For me, it makes me feel really weird, as though everything I’m writing is nowhere near as good as the author, but I know that some people feel like they’re talking to the author, which I think sounds so cool and so much fun.

Now for the important stuff. What to annotate? Everyone does it differently of course, but here’s what I annotate:

  • Quotes I want to remember: this could be anything that I think sounds really beautiful, or something that I just thought was so memorable
  • Things that made me laugh: for example the one in We Free The Stars where Nasir says he might start life as a mime, or when he says he might as well quit being an assassin and become a bard. Basically anything that made me laugh
  • Quotes I want to use to make a point: this is mostly for reviews on discussion I want to do on here, basically anything to back up what I’m saying
  • Random scenes I might want to go back to: quite self explanatory, but scenes that I think I want to remember for later, like for example the “my ghost won’t associate with your ghost” bit from Six of Crows, or the one bed bit in WFTS 😅

So there you have you have it, my take on book annotating. Let me know, do you annotate books? If so how?

17 thoughts on “I started annotating books (my hot take on tabbing, highlighting and writing in books)

  1. I’ve only ever annotated one book (and um, I wrote in the margins-), but honestly it distracts me from actually sinking into the book and enjoying it, so I stopped. Who knowssssss, maybe I’ll start doing it someday. 🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and love the idea, Cherry! I am guilty of underlining quotes in library books but only with pencil. I wrote in one because there was this major plot twist and I forgot how to breathe and my thoughts were so jumbled up, i needed a place to write them down, but I erased them all afterward because honestly I don’t know what was wrong with me, I just wrote down all this rubbish. Anyway, that’s about as near as I’ve ever come to annotating.


  3. I’m one of those people who desecrate their books. Reading on Kindle has helped me to follow a system to annotate and I love tabbing the most. I hardly use any highlighters but keep a pencil with me to underline and take notes of everything that I want to remember in a book.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i don’t highlight, or write, but i did tab the song of achilles recently! it did take me a bit longer to read, because i wanted to make sure the tabs looked neat haha but tabbing was so much fun! especially as the story was SO heartbreaking ahh 😭 love this post! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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