You’re probably asking “Anjali, why the hell would you annotate fiction books like you’re reading for an exam?”. It’s because I’m insane, that’s why. Also, I hyper fixate on every book I read. But seriously, if you love books just as much as me, then annotating is a fun activity you can incorporate into your reading experience!  

Annotating is basically taking notes, underlining, and tabbing the books you read, and many people have different ways of doing this. Let me take you through my method! 


You’ll need: 

  • Book tabs preferably in a variety of colours (I like to use ones I can write on in post-it type paper, instead of the transparent ones since the writing gets smudgy on it). 
  • A pen or a pencil (I like to use a 0.5 mechanical pencil, because of the look of the sharp lines). 
  • An eraser if you use a pencil. 


The main part of annotating for me is using book tabs, so that I can easily find back certain moments and thoughts in the book I’m reading. The categories I divide the book tabs into vary for each book that I read, but I usually go for the same key categories. For each colour of book tabs, I assign a function to it. For example, I am currently reading the book Fresh Water for Flowers, and this is how I’m tabbing it: 

  • This made my heart swell.  
  • I really like this quote. 
  • Fuck, this hurt. 
  • Great language/description.
  • New words/explanations. 


The process here is that I put the coloured tab corresponding with the category, to mark when in the book it occurs. Annotating is mostly underlining parts of the book that makes you feel any of these things. I also scribble down thoughts in the margins of the book or in blank spaces, just to reflect while I’m reading. For me, this process gives me a deeper understanding of the book, and I just adore the way handwriting looks in books. I underline quotes that stand out, I put brackets around longer paragraphs that I want to highlight, and I circle around words that need explanations, and use the coloured tab to write the explanation when I figure out what it means.  

As a writer, I love finding inspiration in books and literary works. Annotating helps me a lot with this process. Annotating has me going back to books I’ve read years ago, and flipping through my own notes, and it really takes me back to how I felt when I first read the books. It’s a wonderful feeling and a very rewarding activity – and I hope this was helpful! Happy reading! <3  


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