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How to Annotate Your Books Like a Professional Reader

August 21, 2020
How to Annotate Your Books Like a Professional Reader

Good morning, bookpups๐Ÿพโฃ Today we’re talking about how to annotate your books while you read (essentially, taking notes). While many readers have their own system of doing this, I’ll be sharing my way with you. So grab a good book, a cup of coffee (or tea!), some sticky notes, and let’s get started!

QOTD: Do you take notes while you read?

I never used to take notes while reading a book, until I started my first book blog. Even then, my notes were sporadic. Now, I find it necessary to write a proper review (one that’s longer than a couple sentences).

How to Annotate Your Books Like a Professional Reader

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Books pictured: The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night and Exile by Shannon Messenger

I recently read a blog post by Bianca @ Your Words My Ink about annotating books (and I will admit I needed to Google “annotate” to find out what it meant ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ) While I don’t write in my books (it’s one line I just haven’t been able to cross yet), I have a very chaotic/methodical way of annotating my books (taking notes).

When I first started book blogging three years ago (YIKES!), I had never heard of professional readers. I thought book blogging meant receiving a free book, letting the author know whether or not you enjoyed it, and writing a quick 2-3 sentence review on your blog (a free WordPress site, of course! Who needs self-hosting? What is self-hosting?) Oh, younger and more naive Megan, you had so much to learn!

Since then, much has changed. We switched to self-hosting about two years ago and have never looked back. (Disclaimer: Bookstacks & Golden Moms is self-hosted through SiteGround and we absolutely love their service!) I’ve also been forced to re-evaluate how I read in order to provide the best possible review for the authors who rely on us.

What does this mean for annotating?

Sticky Notes: A Professional Reader’s Best Friend

Some readers write notes directly into the books they’re reading.

I choose to use sticky notes. They’re perfect for capturing tidbits in a book that I don’t want to forget, making it infinitely easier when it comes time to review. And, as Crystal and I have started reading a few of the same books, I can easily take my sticky notes out before lending her a paperback, therefore making sure I don’t spoil any surprises for her. Oh yes, because some of my notes get very … colorful. Especially when characters make insanely stupid decisions (and we all know they do!).

I use three different types of sticky notes right now: a multi-pack of the mini tabs, 1×3 inch tabs (these are a little bit larger), and the basic 3×3 inch square notepads. Of course, there are many other types … these are just the ones I have found that work best for me.

How to Annotate Your Books Like a Professional Reader

My Method for Annotating As I Read

As I said earlier, there is no one-size-fits-all method for taking notes. This is just the system that has worked for me.

The logical way to use sticky notes would be color-coding different things, such as: quotes, characters or places you want to remember, mushy-gushy romance, and other such items.

This isn’t how I do it. Hey, I said this was my system … I never said it was logical.

I use the smallest tabs to mark quotes or characters/places that I need to remember (for my reviews). The larger tabs are for quick 1-4 word comments, and the square notepads are for longer (usually more colorful) comments that I feel inclined to make while reading. These come in very handy when it comes time to review and I need to remember the anger, sadness, or other emotions I felt while reading. As for the colors … I just like color. If I find that a book is getting to be too yellow, I’ll pick up a pink tab. Normally, I’ll use anywhere from 2-4 colors per book … just for fun and because it makes me happy ๐Ÿ˜ƒ That’s what reading’s supposed to do, right?

Let’s Chat!

Do you annotate your books? Leave a comment below or feel free to DM us on Bookstagram! If you’re looking for book recommendations, be sure to check out our Review Archives!

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  • Reply DJ Sakata August 22, 2020 at 11:39 am

    I would expect nothing less from you than the use of vivid colors, I am jelly and covet your sticky notes. I scribble notes to myself as I read on note paper, scratch paper, the backs of envelopes, or whatever is nearby if I’ve lost track of my notepad ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Reply Bookstacks & Golden Moms August 22, 2020 at 10:04 pm

      I’m a color addict ๐Ÿ™‚ It makes me feel good to see all the different colors and, despite my desire to use them for bringing a little bit of order to my reviews, I just add the colors in wherever I feel like.

  • Reply Kate @ Bitch Bookshelf August 23, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    I enjoy reading these. For me I just read as I go and highlight or make a note in my Notes app or favorite quotes. As much as Iโ€™m a book blogger, itโ€™s just for fun and I donโ€™t want to make it a work thing. ๐Ÿ˜ซ But when I do read a book for a book club I am running for work, I annotate or take hardcore notes!

  • Reply Shelleen Toland August 23, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    I don’t take notes but I should. I would never ever write in a book though.

  • Reply ShootingStarsMag August 24, 2020 at 7:30 am

    Oh, I have no problem writing in books. I don’t do it all the time, but it’s fun, and that’s what I consider annotating a book. However, I really should use post-it notes or some other system when reading books for review so I remember certain points or quotes better!


    • Reply Bookstacks & Golden Moms August 24, 2020 at 12:08 pm

      There are many readers who write in books … I’m just not one of them. Each reader needs to find the system that works best for them ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Erica Robyn August 24, 2020 at 7:55 am

    I LOVE THIS! I love using post its to mark things in books. Yours look so beautiful with the various colors! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Robin Loves Reading August 25, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    This series about annotating books is rather interesting.

  • Reply Candyce @ The Book Dutchesses August 27, 2020 at 6:28 am

    This is such a fun system!

  • Reply Shalini September 6, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    Never taken notes ever. I read review forget. Maybe I am not professional enough. Loved the color of the sticky notes. But for me, it is too much work. I am sure I would lose the sticky notes.

  • Reply Bianca September 7, 2020 at 3:18 am

    I absolutely love annotating books๐Ÿฅณ

  • Reply Ashleigh September 8, 2020 at 12:16 am

    I tend to take notes down in my phone instead of writing them

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