Annotating Books

Sorry this is a bit late. It took longer than I thought it would to write, but here it is anyway, as usual – please enjoy and comment!


I always had the opinion that books should be preserved. They are beautiful, and must stay that way! And I always love those perfect books, they make me happy. However, I watched Ariel Bissett’s video about the subject, and I began to change my mind. She talked about how annotating your books adds value, instead of diminishing it.

I have come around to this idea. I very much like the idea of leaving a personal mark on books which I can then give to other people. It also makes for more interesting reading, if you can see what other people thought about each step in the book.


So, I tried it when I read ‘Eldest’ for the second time; I have included some pictures below from the book which you can check out.

It worked well really. I liked adding my touch, and on some pages there was a lot more writing than on others. I could go 30 pages or so without writing anything at all, then two pages crammed of my own words. It was quite a fun exercise, but it did break the reading up a little; for example, when I stopped halfway through an exciting part to comment about one of the actions of a character, the plot had lost its tension.


I loved annotating ‘Eldest’, but it required considerable effort to remember to comment, and then to formulate a condensed paragraph (as you can tell, I ramble on a bit, and that is inconvenient when you have tiny spaces). As a result, I haven’t annotated a book since. Though it would be nice to, I just like enjoying the book, and if next time I read it I have different feelings, that is a good thing.


However, I do appreciate that some people want to start annotating books, and don’t know where to start, so I thought I would give you a few tips that I picked up from researching the subject, and doing it myself:

Passing on Ariel’s great advice, if you are anxious about writing in a book, use a pencil – I found it is much easier to write what you want when you know it isn’t permanent.

Also, don’t think about it too much. Don’t think, will someone actually care about this? Is this the right opinion? If someone reads this, will they judge me about my opinion? Don’t worry about this. It is primarily for you, and for people you trust. Other people are not going to read it unless you want them to, so write in your books as though it will never be read again, and you may be more truthful in your writing.

In regards to questioning what you should write, as well as giving the generic, useless information disguised as help which is; write what you want, I have put a little list of things that you could write about (please comment below any ideas that you have, this is by no means an exhausted list):

  • subtle changing of a character’s personality
  • changing of a character’s relationships with others as a result of this change, or an external change
  • plot twist! (did you see that coming? Do you think it was good enough for the story? Do the characters respond well to it?)
  • quality of writing style
  • how do you feel about this new character?
  • did that character say something witty?
  • do you agree with that opinion?

As you can see, some of these questions could be written into a review of the book, but feel free to write away! On the back cover/spare page, give it a rating. Enclose your favourite and worst characters. Comment on the symbolism of the novel. Now you have a mini-review of the book inside the book!

If you lend your book to other people, why not ask them to write a mini-review under yours? It could be a fun way of comparing reading tastes.


As a final tip, don’t be scared! It’s your book. It belongs to you. Think about it as having a conversation with the author. And don’t be afraid to swear if you want to!


Here are some snaps from Eldest. I hope you can read them and they give you a bit of an idea of what to write!

Ask questions (even if they are rhetorical)
Ask questions (even if they are rhetorical)
Underline and use question marks
Underline and use question marks
Question plot and morality of characters
Question plot and morality of characters
Not everything has to be deep!
Not everything has to be deep!
Say what you think!
Say what you think!


Some pages may have more than others
Some pages may have more than others




It was fun talking about this subject, please comment your thoughts below; I would love to hear them!

– Catriona


What do ya think?

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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