Annotating is the process of using pencils, highlighters, post-it notes and the like in order to take extensive notes on the books you read. These notes could be about what you like, dislike, feel about the book or objective critiques and comments on themes, metaphors, figures of speech, ideas, historical relevance, etc. Here is why you should annotate the books you read? and annotating the books is a fruitful process which enhances reading experiences.
Why You Should Annotate The Books You Read?
- Gives you a chance to go back in time
- Adds layers to your understanding of the story
- Gives context to your understanding of the story
- Enhances reading experience
- Reduces your chances of the fake reading syndrome
- Aids memory of important parts of the book
- Organizes thoughts for secondary material
- Facilitates a conversation between you and the text
Gives you a chance to go back in time
Very often, thoughts are passing and don’t stick with us for a long time. Jotting them down as they come allows you to cement them in time. So when you return to the book and reflect on it, you not only have fresh thoughts and opinions, but also old ones. You can compare and contrast to see how far you have come, or just take a trip down memory lane.
Adds layers to your understanding of the story
Annotation allows for deeper processing of the book. When there is a pause in reading to reflect on what you have read, it gives your brain the time to process what is really happening. This also builds on the reading experience because you understand things more fully. It’s easier to catch on to the deeper meaning and hidden contexts of the book.
Gives context to your understanding of the story
When you re-read books, you learn not only about the book but also about yourself. You understand who you were, where you were coming from and how and why you thought the way you did in the past. Thus, when you read an annotated book again, it allows you to track your progress through time, and gives context to your understanding.
Enhances reading experience
Of course, annotation enhances reading experiences. Because you process things at a deeper level, you’re able to get more out of the books you read. They cease to be just passive entities but active agents interacting with you. This fosters a stronger relationship with the book, and allows you to engage more meaningfully with the content.
Reduces your chances of the fake reading syndrome
Most of us are prone to the fake reading syndrome – wherein you gobble up words without truly understanding them. But when you annotate books, you read it with more concentration and without reading fatigue, since annotation slows you down. This in turn ties up with my two previous points – you understand more and experience the book more fully.
Aids memory of important parts of the book
Another important aspect of annotation is memory. When you actively think about something for longer, you’re more likely to retain it. Plus, writing it physically and tangibly on a piece of paper aids memory even more. So every time you annotate something, you put effort into remembering it and cementing it in your memory.
Organizes thoughts for secondary material
Often, readers don’t stop at just reading a book. They watch interviews, podcasts, video essays or read articles, book reviews and essays about the books. If they are researchers, then they go a step further and actually look up secondary references. In such cases, it’s helpful to have your own set of notes, with your thoughts neatly organized and expressed.
Facilitates a conversation between you and the text
With annotating, a book ceases to be an entity divorced from you. Rather, the reading process becomes more active and interactive, with there being a dialogue between you and the book. This allows you to react to, agree, disagree, comment on and exchange ideas with the book. Of course, this makes for a greater enjoyment as well as learning experience.