{DISCUSSION} Notating… in Books!

Is it acceptable to notate thoughts in a book?

The concept of writing in books has been brought up in the comments of many of my discussion posts. So… I suppose it’s time to finally give it its due, yes? :p

I’m sure my regular readers already know my feelings about writing/ highlighting in books, as I’ve likely told each and every person who frequents my blog. Or even people who talk about books because I’m so adamant about this, but we’ve never really delved into why. Nor have I given voice to the other side of the argument. You know, the tainted, corrupt, blinded side that says it’s ‘okay’ to write in books? ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, let me explain.

I am a perfectionist. Not a huge perfectionist. Not to the point of it being an issue (most of the time) or causing me undue stress, but I do have perfectionist tendencies. One of those tendencies happens to be cleanliness and order.

I like everything to have a ‘spot,’ and to be lined up appropriately so as to maximize empty space and give a sense of order to whatever it is I’m looking at. This could be my room, my nightstand, my drawer, my closet, my desk, my planner, my binder, my car even! Everything must be in its proper place lest chaos decide to wreak havoc upon my space.

One of the easiest ways to achieve this sense of control and order is blankness. If there is nothing there, there is nothing to organize, nothing to fall out of alignment. Now, this doesn’t work in every case, but a blank page is easy to keep blank.ย I got into a lot of trouble in high school for not showing work on my math tests (because I didn’t like to scuff up my page [and because I could do the math in my head.]).

It’s also why I can’t stand to write in books.

Heck! I can barely stand to write in the margins on notepaper because it throws off the entire order of the paper! (I was the worst note-taker in the history of note-takers!) And this is particularly horrible because, as a writer, ideas are constantly coming to me in random order and forcing me to scribble illegible comments all over the place. 0.0

Yet, I can control my books. I don’tย need to write things in the margins. Yes, thoughts pop up while I’m reading, and I know I’ll forget them by the time I get around to writing my review of the book, but… I just can’t bring myself to mar the absolutely gorgeous pages of the book! (I mean, I can’t even stand a nick in the cover, for Pete’s sake! By the way, anyone know who Pete actually is?? 0.o)

Though, I can understand why people would want to write in their books.

This passage is particularly amazing! I want to remember a piece for when I write a review or discuss it with someone. This is what I think will happen at the end of the book and I want to write it down to see if I’m gonna be right.

Those are all amazing reasons and I, too, get these thoughts! But even when I do get these thoughts, I do not write them in the book!ย Maybe I’ll write some idea down for my review regarding the pacing or something, but never IN the book. And I would NEVER highlight the fiction novel (textbooks are different.)

Additionally, if Iย did write in a book and then wanted to go back and read it again (it could happen! …maybe. :/ ) I would have a hard time reading the book like it was the first time because I’d see my notes all over the place. I feel like it would be too distracting and I still would miss all the little details you supposedly notice during the second and third reads.

But what do you think?
Do you annotate in books? Why/Why not?
Leave your thoughts below!

And check out my discussion from last week:

20 thoughts on “{DISCUSSION} Notating… in Books!”

  1. From two different countries, two different cultures and quite an age gap, we seems to have a lot in common !!!I am a perfectionist too in all areas. Not to the dot But I cannot live in clutter. I want everywhere I look to be neat, tidy and clean. Mind you even when the children were small, I used to clean up and tidy so in the morning the house was all arranged. When it comes to books Yes ๐Ÿ™‚
    I don’t like any writing or for the pages to be torn or spoilt in anyway. There is a little difference in some of the books I study though, that I underline the important sections. These too I use the ruler and do it very neatly. But I do not write anywhere. I believe most of the book lovers like their books all neat and clean and in good condition. It seems I have so much to comment here !!! I never thought I would have so much to say on a blog that reviews books ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. I agree with everything you say here. I like my books to be pristine as well, though I think my deepest motive is akin to what “Never Not Reading” said. I feel like the book as it is functions like a tool, an opportunity to have an experience, and I don’t want to tamper with that by marking up the book.
    As you say, I think it would distract me, and I think if I continued in that practice the book would become so full of notes or highlights that actually reading the original story would become difficult, if not impossible. Instead I prefer to jot down my thoughts/notes in other places, and reference the book, so that I can reunite them if I wish, but I don’t have to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes! You bring up a good point! What if you had different thoughts every time you re-read the book? At what point does your book go from new to completely illegible because you can’t find the original words any more under all your notes and highlighting?

      Additionally, I think my likelihood to be distracted comes from being a visual learner. Highlighting is designed to draw the eye, especially for someone who learns best by observing/doing. And notes would linger in the corner of my eye constantly prodding me with their desire for attention. No. Much easier to enjoy the book with no alterations from the original book. (though I have been tempted to correct typos before. 0.0 Still, the thought of marring the book is too much for me.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. No! Never! Couldn’t do it. Like you I’m a perfectionist. If there’s something that i need to remember for the review, or if I like a quote, I will write it down in my notes on my phone. I’ve also tried putting post it notes on the inside of the cover so I could jot down points as I went along but it always backfires because I can never find a pen and I’m too lazy to find one when I’m reading lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahahaha! I like the post-it notes idea. Though, I cannot relate to the pen part. My problem, more often than not, is not having the paper. Or just knowing I’ll misplace the paper. That’s why pens were designed so I can write my flesh. :p Yay hand notes! I always had my to-do list on during school, and was worried my profs would think I was cheating during tests. Hahaha! I can only imagine what they’d think if they saw what my hand really says.

      And I always think I’ll write down my notes in my phone, but then I forget that I wrote them down and can’t find them again. sigh It’s like there is no good way to do this. :/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There really is no good way to do this! Lol other people make it look so easy and it’s just irritating lol! I used to write on my hands and arms but the ink doesn’t want to wash off so well. So it ends up staying for like a week. My skin likes ink apparently!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s why I love Kindle. You can have notes in your clippings without destroying your book. Except for textbook writing in books is a big no ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  5. For many of the same reasons I just can’t stand writing/highlighting in a book. My HS English teacher required us to highlight (color coded with HER colors) in our Pride and Prejudice books for a grade. Literally, once a week she took up our books to check and see if/how much we had highlighted. The next time I went to read my favorite book I just couldn’t. I kept thinking things like “What was green for again?” or “Well I shouldn’t have highlighted THAT, it’s not important”. I had to go buy a new copy! Which, don’t get me wrong, the copy I have now is beautiful and perfect in every way, but it’s the principle of the thing!

    That being said, I can see why we had to do that. By making me highlight my book she really got me thinking critically about what I was reading instead of just basking in the flawlessness of Jane Austen. It forced me to look for WHY I felt the way I did about certain characters. I probably love P&P more than I ever did before thanks to highlighting in it. So I can totally understand why people who don’t care as much about keeping their books pretty would want to notate in them. After all, a book exists to be enjoyed, not to be kept pristine on a shelf.

    I, however, will likely never write in a non-textbook again. That’s actually one of the few things I really like about ebooks. Anything you highlight can always be un-highlighted if it’s distracting you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What?! A lit teacher required you to highlight in the book?! Did anyone check her credentials? I also highly doubt she had the time to read what all 30ish students were highlighting to give them accurate credit. That’s just absurd! It sounds like she was trying to come up with busy work. Though, this does remind me when I was forced to read Edgar Allen Poe in 8th grade and we had to put sticky notes throughout the book with our comments. (I ABHOR Poe and almost failed the class for refusing to write sticky notes… :/ And they wonder why the general populous doesn’t like to read. eye roll) P..s I’m glad you have a new copy of P&P! Woo!

      Ah, but I beg to differ about her methods and your last sentence: “a book exists to be enjoyed, not to be kept pristine on a shelf.” For one, she didn’t need to make you guys highlight IN the book. You could have taken notes on a separate page or perhaps placed sticky notes in the book as my teacher did. Additionally, I have serious issues with highlighting in general because what if you accidentally highlight? You can’t just hit ‘undo.’ It’s permanent. That is not okay with me.

      As to your statement, I believe that the two can coexist. After all, a book is not a cake. You can have it and consume it, too. It’s more a matter of how you choose to read. I am a careful reader. Others… not so much. However, this brings up the questions of ‘why are you reading and what do you want to get out of it?’ This is a personal question that I believe can have a huge impact on what you do with your books and how you treat them.

      Haha! Ebooks seem to be popular in regards to highlighting and notating. Apparently I’m behind the times. Though, I still prefer reading physical to ebook any day. So that probably has a lot to do with it. :p

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha! I have a bunch that are available from my library (Well, the two libraries I no longer live near. Haha!) But I never rent the ebooks. Not sure why… :/ There are plenty of books I want. I think the ebook concept just deters me too much. Though, it would be far cheaper. Hmm.

          Liked by 1 person

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