We’ve all met (or are) an avid book reader who’s obsessed with the condition of their books. Carrying their books clutched to their chest, wincing when someone touches their books, reluctant to let others borrow their books, hating the sacrilegious practice of marking your place in a book also called ‘dog-earing’… the list goes on. I was one of those people. Then I realized, carrying my books around with more care than a mother carries her baby, wasn’t fun. And at the end of the day, it’s my book. I paid for it, and I’ve realized that I don’t want to put it back on my bookshelf in the same condition I got it in. I want to leave my mark on my books.
The first time I annotated a book on my own accord was while taking a statewide standardized test. I was sitting there with The Darkest Minds open and the room was so silent and bright that I just couldn’t concentrate. My brain felt like mush, and the sound of silence was driving me crazy. I needed something to distract my brain from the raging boredom. So I looked at my pencil, then at The Darkest Minds sitting open at my desk, and the next thing I knew my hand took my pencil and I had an entire margin full of random thoughts. And (to my surprise ) it was so fun!
Writing all my thoughts down in the book was such a good way of expressing my first immediate thought. When I really like a paragraph, I can write all my feelings in the margin. When there’s a plot twist, I can cover the blank spaces with “BRUH”.
And at the end of a chapter when there’s half a page (or more) of just white space, I write a summary of the chapter and everything I felt while reading it.
Rereading your books and seeing these notes in there is the best thing ever. You get such a sense of nostalgia. I wish I would have annotated the first time I read the Harry Potter or Mortal Instruments series. I feel so good knowing that my first initial ideas and thoughts about a book are immortalized in the pages.
I used sit there with my book half open, barely able to see the text to read it just so I wouldn’t crack the spine of a book that I paid for. I’d been so caught up in trying not to bend a page or break the spine that reading became uncomfortable for me. This is precisely why annotating my books feels so great. I don’t even care that I’m vandalizing the book when I’m annotating, because it feels so great to not care about anything but the words on the page.
And an added bonus? One of my new favorite things is letting my friends borrow one of my annotated copies of a book and getting their texts as they respond to my notes. Knowing they get to see my thoughts as they’re reading makes me feel like we’re kind of reading the book together.
So I challenge you, fellow reader! Annotate a book! Just write your feelings down, see if you learn something new about yourself. If you feel nervous about it, write it lightly in pencil, you can always erase it. Remember, reading is supposed to be fun, so have fun while you’re reading! Don’t stress about the appearance of your books, I promise you, if you open your books all the way the words will be ok!