I’ve always been so envious of people who annotated or tabbed their books with sticky notes. There was something so alluring about seeing those tabs or marks. It was a personal touch and felt like it would be an important connection to the reading experience. I wished I could do it and tried many times – only to fail and give up. I always felt regret for not taking the time to stop and appreciate quotes and beautiful lines. I would always get towards the end of a book and wish I would have marked the spot where I thought there was a connection. I have a hard enough time remembering details, so I felt that every time I didn’t mark something, it was a miss opportunity to remember something that could have connected me to the story in the long run.
As great as tabbing and annotating is – there are cons of course. I think the reason why I failed is that I didn’t like stopping to write things down. It felt a little inconvenient to mark the page, close the book, write something down, mark the page, then begin again. Let’s be honest here – I was lazy and didn’t want to do the work! I read at a faster than normal pace, so I felt that taking the time was an interruption in my flow and I couldn’t be bothered. I’ve said many times “I’ll write it down at the end of the chapter” and, yeah, that never happened. There’s also the problem of always having to have a pen or post it’s on hand. What happens if you’re reading away from home and didn’t bring anything with you??
SO. Recently, when I started reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, I knew this was going to be the best chance to make it a success. I knew that this book had many characters, a complicated magic system, a large world, and so many other things. I wanted to remember as much as possible and be connected as best as I could, so when I stared it I vowed that I would continue to tab the whole way through and see if it made a difference. Did it make a difference? ABSOLUTELY!!!
So here’s what I did. I knew that I wanted to keep track of 4 things:
- World building
- Character building
I chose 4 different colours of small post it notes, wrote out each category with its corresponding colour, and stuck them to the inside of the cover as a key. That way I could look back and remember what each colour meant so I could easily flip to those colours and find what I was looking for. It helped on so many occasions when I was writing down details of characters when they were first introduced. I could look back and be reminded of who they were, what their connection to the story was, and maybe some facts that seemed insignificant at the time but I ended up connecting later on. Below is a picture of the pages with the post it notes sticking out. This was only the beginning – it’s much more colourful now lol!
What were my final thoughts on tabbing once I finished? – THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN MORE OFTEN! Here’s why:
- Ok yes, it was a total pain in the ass to stop in the middle of a good part to write something down. But here’s the thing about that – I remembered SO much more! In those fast action scenes, I think we’re all guilty of reading quickly to get to the end of the scene and see what happens. This forced me to take a step back and take in all the details.
- It made me remember more of the book! I have serious memory problems when it comes to books. I remember the premise and how things turned out, but it’s rare for me to remember details. Because I took the time to write things down, and even referred back to them as I was reading, I feel like I comprehended and retained so much more.
- Prepping for a sequel? Just look back to your notes! Sometimes it’s a year or two before we can get to the next book in a series, and we often forget things. Instead of searching out a lengthy recap, or even rereading the first book, just look back at your notes! This will come in handy in the future!
Tabbing your books is easy and cheap. Just have a pen or pencil, and different coloured post it notes (in any size you please). It doesn’t wreck the pages so you’re safe if writing directly in books isn’t for you. Carry them in your bag if you go out and read, or even note your page numbers and thoughts in an app in your phone until you get home! I hope that this post was helpful, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!
Until next time, happy reading!