Guest Post - Book Annotating 101

March 7, 2022
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Meet guest blogger Sara Planz, a former General Manager at Books-A-Million in Katy, TX, and one of those insatiable book enthusiasts whose literary roots are planted deep in the rich soil of her early childhood. “I have been obsessed with books and reading since I was a little girl," she says, "and I’ve always believed in the magic of books." While her genres of choice tend toward Young Adult, Romance, Sci-Fi, Horror, and Literary Fiction, Sara doesn’t draw the line there. The result of her no-book-goes-unread philosophy? “I am currently battling a never-ending TBR pile!”

Welcome to the club, Sara!

She's recently taken up book annotating, a trend that's gaining ground among highlighter-happy readers who are seeking a more interactive experience than they get by simply turning pages. Let's see what Sara thinks about the pastime.

Book Annotating Basics

One of the biggest ongoing trends on #Bookstagram and #BookTok continues to be annotating books. As someone who had never done this before, I was curious as to why readers seemed to be having so much fun with it. I started focusing on videos and posts on social media to understand how book annotating adds to one’s reading enjoyment, as well as figure out how to get started. Once I tried my hand at it, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the process.   

First of all, you get to go out and purchase your supplies. For me, this brought back the nostalgic feeling of going back-to-school shopping to pick out all of your new goodies. I stuck with the basics: sticky notes and tabs, highlighters, index cards, a nice pen, and a reading journal.

"Until I started annotating, I had no idea how much I was missing."

The next step is to create a color-coded key based on what you want to pay attention to in the book. Some of my favorite things to look for include “quotes to remember," “happy moments," “plot twists," “romance," “sad moments," and “character development," just to name a few.  

Now comes the fun part! Get those highlighters and tabs ready, because it is time to start annotating. Highlight those passages that resonate with you, use tabs to allow for easy reference after you have finished the book, or write notes and questions in the margins to go back to later. 

Why Try It?

I have always considered myself an active reader, but until I started annotating, I had no idea how much I was missing. Annotating allows you to slow down and savor the story, so you can fully immerse yourself in the world the book is creating. And when the story is over, these annotations help prepare you to recommend a book, participate more fully in a book club, write a detailed review, or simply remind yourself what drew you in to begin with. It felt odd at first to mark up a book like this, but being able to doodle in the margins, highlight significant passages, and “vocalize” my thoughts with notes, opinions, or comments that came to mind while reading really enriched the reading experience.

The great thing about annotating is the ability to create your own system based on what you want to get out of a book. The way I annotate romance books is very different from the way I would annotate sci-fi or YA or nonfiction. It is a personalizable system that can help you become a more dynamic reader.  

Now that I have annotated a few books, I find that it is something I really enjoy. My comprehension and retention of the storylines are staying with me long after the book is finished. I would encourage my fellow readers to give this a try. With so many great books hitting the shelves right now, it's a great time to try out this trend! Happy reading (and annotating)!


Follow Sara on Instagram @saraplanzreadz and Tiktok @saraplanzreadz

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