Book annotating or not book annotating?

I have recently come across the controversial topic of book annotating. Does it make me very naïve that I didn’t even know this was ‘a thing’? Apart from a gentle spot of highlighting and note taking in textbooks, I have never considered writing in my books.

Until I came to live in England and discovered charity shops – a concept that is still relatively foreign to Italians – I would have never even thought of buying a second-hand book. To be honest - for a good few years into my it’s-ok-to-be-buying-second-hand-books new life  - I would only buy books that looked as if they were new! No discoloration around the edges, no dents, no spine creases (oh, the horror!) and – definitely – no annotations of any kind. The price pencilled into the inside of the front cover was enough for me to have to put up with!

Perfect books, that’s what I wanted.

I would then read them with the utmost care so as not to create any spine creases and be generally as unobtrusive as possible so that the books would keep looking beautiful on my shelves. I still can’t bring myself to open a book completely or to fold it in half (that truly horrifies me!) but I like to believe I’ve relaxed a little. Still, my reading technique keeps amusing my friends and I am still scared that ‘careless readers’ will ask to borrow my books!

What can I do? People change but some things remain the same!

Anyway, let’s get back to book annotating! My curiosity was awakened when I was researching book subscriptions services and I came across PageHabit, whose boxes include books with annotations written by the author themselves – as you can see below.

I thought this to be a winning idea! The annotations are written on sticky notes - which don’t mark the book forever – and they add a lovely personal touch. That’s what made me look a little bit deeper into book annotating.
Here is a list of the videos that I found more interesting and helpful. To find out whether I am going to start annotating my books, scroll to the end of this post. Any guesses?

Naya is very bubbly and I would recommend watching this video even if you’re not interested in this topic! I enjoyed seeing the examples of her book annotating (yes, she highlights and writes in them!) and I also liked the excerpt she read from an essay about why you should write in your books.

This is the most professional video I’ve seen and Kaitlyn explains her proven colour coding method of tagging/flagging books. Perfect if you are looking to hone your book reviewing skills.
Books by Leynes
I loved the calming presence of this booktuber while she explains and shows how her book annotating methods developed.

Useful video. Julia shows her colour coding technique but she mostly highlights the fact that annotating books (or tagging/flagging them) should be fun and colour coding doesn’t have to be the be all and end all of the process.

Wow, this girl has energy! This is definitely not a ‘how to’ tutorial to book annotating but it’s super entertaining! Besides, Ariel does have a point… imagine leaving all your pristine books to posterity. What will they tell people about you? Not much. If you are a careful reader like I am, people won’t even be able to tell if you’ve ever read them. Writing in books can make all the difference.

What do you think? Am I going to start annotating my books? The answer is… yes, in a way! I don’t think I am ready – just yet – to start writing in books. I will however invest in some sticky notes and give it a go. The general idea is that I want it to be fun! Part of the reason I gave up blogging years ago was that reading was not fun anymore. I was too focused on the reviewing process and reading started feeling as something I had to do rather than something I wanted to do. I don’t want to make that mistake again and I don’t want to turn ‘book annotating’ in a chore or in something that has to be perfect. Fun is what I am going for!

If you have any tips, please let me know. I will let you know how I’ve been getting on once I’ve taken the plunge!


  1. index cards and post it notes, definitely appeal to me, specially for reviews. I can't bring myself to scribble on a clean book though


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