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Why You Should Start Annotating Your Books

How annotating my books encouraged me to slow down

I've always thought that book annotating was strictly reserved for students. Why bother writing down my thoughts and opinions if I didn't have to write a 3000-word essay afterwards?

I never really saw the need but I'll be honest when I say I am a slut for stationery and anything that involves pastel highlighters, coloured felt tip pens and making something look pretty.

And by becoming someone who now annotates their books for fun, it’s been a lovely opportunity to dig out my felt tips and sticky notes from my bullet journal lockdown days.

So here are my reasons why you should annotate your books and how to get started!

(Also yes the urge to start annotating my books mainly arrived from constantly being fed aesthetic as hell pictures of annotating book gals on my Instagram explore page and giving in, I’m no liar.)


1. Gather your tools

This can include sticky notes and tabs, highlighters, felt tips and maybe just a regular biro to write notes and thoughts down

2. Decide if you want to write on the actual page or not

Personally, the thought of writing directly onto the page of a book used to horrify me but after trying it out, I found it quite freeing! You can either jot your first thoughts or doodles onto the page or write them on a sticky note and place them near the section you’re talking about or write your thoughts in a separate notebook

3. Decide on the themes you want to pay attention to (or don’t)

Some people like to have specific themes and examples they want to highlight whilst they read. Let’s say The Secret History by Donna Tartt for example, you may want to create a key on one of the first pages of the book to outline which colours will represent themes of beauty, fear, guilt and academics.

Or you can also just start reading and highlight and comment on anything that you find special, noteworthy or funny.

4. Have fun!

Don’t pressure yourself to fill every page with notes and Instagrammable doodles. That kinda defeats the whole point. Treat it like a mindful exercise. More on that below!


Annotating books for fun is a great way to really digest what you’re reading and it’s also a way of being more mindful and intentional about what you’re reading.

Sometimes I’d get so caught up trying to get to the end of a book to see what happens, or rushing to finish so I can get started on another, that I probably miss out on some really good bits, even some lines that I may want to savour and read again one day.

It also helps you remember and understand what you’re reading better.

By leaving little comments and notes, you’re actively engaging with the book (which I’m very sure authors LOVE) and it’s almost like having a conversation with it.

You also have the opportunity to tell characters how annoying they’re being at times :)

I’ve been making the effort recently to be more present and mostly to slow down. (It’s surprisingly hard to kick the fast-paced London life) and by annotating my books, it’s really helped to feel like I’m more engaged with what I’m reading by paying attention and having a conversation

I wish you the best on your annotating journey!

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