You Want Me To DEFACE My Books?!

So, here’s my history with annotating books.

Tumbleweed Gif

I don’t do it.

I’ve never had the urge to do it, I’ve never really understood why someone would want to do it. It just feels… wrong. That being said, I do enjoy making notes in and highlighting sections of eBooks, but that’s not the same thing is it? It doesn’t feel the same. Writing in a book feels bad. Making notes in eBooks is fine (I’m not overly fond of them anyways) but in real, physical, delicious, paper books? Nope. Nope, nope, nope.

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2015-Discussion-ChallengeEven in school, when I was studying a text for English Literature, I would take separate notes in a jotter and reference the relevant page number. It probably didn’t help that novels simply don’t have enough margin space to write the reams of notes required on symbolism, dramatic irony, and all that good stuff.

I’ve just never felt the urge to write in a book. Until last year. I stepped way out of my comfort zone and highlighted my text books for my Health and Safety diploma. I had seven text books to cover in 32 weeks for three 3 hour exams. Those babies had to be cut down one way or another. It took immense bravery on my part, but I’m so glad I did it because it really helped with revision. Still, that was a text book, not a novel.

I own a beautiful copy of S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst (I still haven’t read it yet, but I will… one day), which is a story within a story and has scribbles throughout the entire book on purpose, and that excites me. I get it. But I still don’t want to do it. Or, at least I didn’t, until the wonderful BookTuber that is Ariel Bissett posted this:

I’ve never been more persuaded in my entire life to do something “wrong”. What do you think? Do you annotate books, do you keep notes in a seperate journal, did you annotate and then later regret it? Let me know!

About Rachel

Avid reader & #bookblogger. Lover of all things business. A fan of drinks & dancing. Ever optimistic. Feminist.

54 Responses

  1. legalreader

    I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with highlighting or annotating in your own book – I mean, we all read differently! And when I do buy used books, I kinda like seeing writing in them – feels like the book has its own story you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I Agree, I think everyone reads diffrently. I have an on and off relationship with annotating books. I fell in love with Black out poetry and that got me intreasted in the world of Writting in books. for a while a friend and I would read the same book. when I read it I would make notes, underline quotes I loved and things like that then I would let her read the book and so the same thing so when I got it back I could find out which parts of the book really stuck with her. as we all read the same books with diffrent mindsets and experiances so through this i saw the books in a diffrent angle to the way I would have seen it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I watched this video the other day as well, and I found it to be pretty convincing too! Although I would never write in one of my more expensive editions of a book, I’m not opposed to highlighting and putting in sticky notes to mark my favorite parts. I’ll usually write in other books, especially ones for school. Now I want to annotate more! Good old Ariel, always switching things up!


  3. Omg, I laughed so hard.
    My books are perfect no matter how many times I’ve read them. Their spins is still perfect and I never open the book more than a little to read them. I never write in them or place bookmarks even and I never – ever, letting my books leave my house, lol, ever!
    I am sure it’s more fun that way where you can write on the book and make it more personal, but I can’t, lol.
    Great post and video 🙂


      1. I hate post-its in a book, unless I know I will buy another copy, lol. Bookmarks just leave this tiny gap in the pages, and I am not doing that, lol. If I have anything to share about the book (good or bad), thank god there’s Goodreads these days or just email or text a friend 😀 I do love to see people that don’t care about this little book obsession, they are free to enjoy the book, like it meant to be, lol, but I can’t 😀


  4. Never, never, never deface a book! That video annoyed the hell out of me. At first it was the delivery, which was irritating, but I always tell myself not to get upset by that because every person is different and I shouldn’t judge on different personalities. But I just couldn’t get on board with what she was saying. It might have also hurt that she was being negative about a book I love. Anyway, I will never dog ear a page or write in a book or highlight or doodle or anything else. I just can’t. It feels sacrilegious. I have a reading journal for fiction and research , (or when I was in school) I would use notes. JMHO.


  5. Brandie

    Woah…she’s pretty excited about this isn’t she. Lol. I am really OCD and just don’t know that I could deface my pretty new paperbacks. I just don’t think I can do it!! I love highlighting on my Kindle, and that’s pretty much all I read on. My paperbacks are purchased after I’ve already read the eBook version and are just for show, to make my bookshelves pretty. If I were to do re-reads using my paperbacks, I don’t think I’d be able to make notes in them. Every fiber in my body says, ‘noooooo’. LOL. 😉


  6. I normally do not write in my books wither- though I did a lot in college. I recently picked up a copy of Walden for a book club, and the highlighter had to come out. Sometimes I think it helps you pay attention when your mind isn’t 100% engaged.


  7. I’ve been thinking about this video, too. I don’t feel the urge to annotate for pleasure-reading; if I take notes, they’re in my blog notebook as things to consider for review. I’ve thought about annotating via sticky notes (because you’re right–the margins are so narrow) but I just haven’t really needed to do it.

    It doesn’t feel wrong to me, per se, but I don’t really have a desire to do it either. It’s very much eh. I do, however, see her point–as long as notes don’t interfere with the text, reading an annotated book sounds like a lot of fun.


  8. Okay, so I’ve always hated writing in books as well. I only have ONE book that I write in when I read it, and it’s Perks. I write in it because I’ve read it about 10 times and every single time I read it I find something else I love or relate to or want to remember. I don’t write in any other book. I don’t like it. Ariel’s video is a legit amazing case to start doing so. I’ve recently started using those little flag stickies to mark passages that I like. I’ve always kept a little notebook with me where I note the page number and write out the quote (or just put the page number so I can go back and look), but I really like these little flags. I can write a short note or put a star or heart on it. It kind of does what Ariel says – I’ve just lent out my ARC of Magonia with the flags still in it, so my friend can see which parts I liked.


  9. I can’t write in books either. I did use highlighters when I was in college but that was because I never thought about using sticky notes. I love that idea! Lately I had started a reading journal where I would jot down thoughts as I was reading or quotes but that got kind of tedious. I might have to give the sticky note idea a try!


  10. Kathy

    I cringe at highlighting or writing in a physical book. I’ve always been that way and can’t shake it. eBooks? No problem. I’ll highlight and make notes until the entire book is yellow and never be bothered by it. For physical books, I’ve exchanged my post-it notes for my phone camera and usually take a quick snapshot of a passage with the page number for later referencing.


  11. Liza Barrett

    In my 12th grade English class, we were actually REQUIRED to annotate the articles and essays we were reading. Our teacher actually reviewed our annotations and graded us on the quality of them. This is something that I just don’t understand.

    a) I don’t annotate the books I read because, like you, I can’t bring myself to deface my books
    b) I, like you, prefer to write what notes I need on a separate piece of paper
    c) I have a pretty decent memory — it’t obviously not perfect or photographic, but it’s good enough to remember details long enough to have a conversation about it, write a report, or pass an exam.
    d) If the annotations I DO make are intended to aid MY memory, what does it matter if the notes are meaningful to my teacher? So I scribbled some nonsense that is unintelligible to the teacher — as long as I know what it means, it does its intended purpose

    Sooo … a bit of a tangent, but it’s what I thought about. 🙂 Nice post!

    ~ Liza @ Classy Cat Books


  12. chuffwrites

    I love that video so much, and really like the *idea* of annotating in books to leave your own running commentary of your experience reading — only, I can never think of anything to SAY. If I had super funny or articulate things to add to the margins of my books, I totally would! But I’m apparently not that clever. XD


  13. Terrific video, and I totally buy her point of view. However, I usually am only taking notes on things I want to remember, and it’s easier to read through and find specific notes if they are all together in my notebook, instead of sprinkled around a book. I could care less about broken spines, and the first thing I do with a hardcover is toss the book jacket, so it’s not a “pristine” thing for me, just a practical issue.


  14. Ksenia

    OMG, I feel the same way about the books. That’s one of the reasons I love e-books, I can highlight and make notes and I don’t feel guilty about it at all. I had similar experience with my text book when I was studying for an exam in college. I highlighted text I needed, but it was awful. Though I admit Ariel sounds very excited and convincing in this video.


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