Tabbing and Annotating in books

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:

  1. Quotes
  2. World building
  3. Character building
  4. Magic

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!

tab

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!

29 Comments Add yours

  1. I constantly tab my books, but never really take notes or anything while reading. I also don’t have a color code, simply because I go rainbow-style with my sticky notes, haha. When I’m writing my review, I go through all the sticky notes and write as I go, then pulling the ones out I put in solely for the sake of my review and leaving the others. It’s more my way of marking quotes and events that impacted me than anything else, really.

    It’s also fun when I reread a book I’ve tabbed before. As with Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.. I ended up adding tabs and removing others. Definitely made for a fun reading experience too, haha.

    On top of that, all those sticky notes are definitely a way to see how much you liked a book, or had problems with it – or even better, if you got so lost in the story you barely put any in. :’) It’s always one of the first things I check when I finished a book. :’)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! When I was writing the review I kept referring back to my tabs and I felt like it was easier to sum it up and draw examples. And any excuse for a Rainbow is good enough for me 😂

      Like

  2. DL Jung says:

    This is great advice for reviewing our recapping a book, but I’ve never done it just when reading for fun. I must try it! Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good luck! Hope it works for you!

      Like

  3. Alyssa Cohen says:

    Amazing advice! I find that with my physical books, I don’t take the time to annotate them. However, whenever I’m reading an e-book/e-ARC, I will use the features on the Kindle app to highlight and/or take notes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always wondered that. It seems like it’s so easy to take notes while reading an ebook. I don’t have an e-reader so I wouldn’t know. But I’ve noticed that more people take notes if they’re reading digitally opposed to physically

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad you enjoyed annotating so much. I absolutely love it, it really does help to remember so much more about a book and gives a greater connection with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Alexandra says:

    Oh, I’m glad you discovered the fun of doing this. I’ve been doing it for a number of years, and especially when I seriously started to post reviews online, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It can be a great way, as you’ve found out, to remember key plot points, characters, and pivotal scenes.

    Enjoy tabbing, and welcome to the club!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol thanks for the welcome to the tabbing club! I think I may be slightly obsessed with it now 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alexandra says:

        Yeah, it can become obsessive. You find yourself buying a ton of colourful tags and stickies just for annotating! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yup! I’m running low already so it’s almost time for more 😂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Alexandra says:

            Ha! Ha! Definitely becoming an addict!

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Norrie says:

    I use sticky tabs too, but without notes they didn’t help me. By the time i finished the book, i had no clue why a tab was on a page 😂
    Now i write in a notebook and it helped a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😂 I used to write it in a notebook but I found that I would write a TON. So small tabs make me write less and get to the point lol

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Shannon @ Shelfish For Books says:

    I never thought about doing this before, but it sounds really useful! 😊 great post! ❤️💕

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing this! I’ve been borrowing a lot of library books though so I’ll have to wait until I read a book that I’ve purchased!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I started doing this for the Discworld read-a-long. But only for Discworld books so far!! I’ve been thinking about doing it for others too though…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you do. It’s so helpful in the long run

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I do like adding tabs and I used to have a system with the colors but I’ve since stopped doing that, I just use what ever color is next. I’ve also recently started highlighting while reading and then going back to add tabs later, at that time while I’m adding colored tabs I would write down some of my thoughts on that page. It took me a while to get comfortable with writing on the pages. It’s wonderful that it’s working for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t have problems with writing in books. Some people are SO against it but I think it makes it more YOUR book and your experience. One of these days I’ll try highlighting. I love the look of a book with highlighted pages!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m so envious of people who annotate their books! Even though its just for me, I feel like I’m doing it wrong any time I try and am forever losing the tabs in the bottom of my bag…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I resorted to using a small ziploc bag to keep them together. I was always losing them when I needed them!

      Like

  12. evelynreads1 says:

    I love tabbing my books 💕

    (Www.evelynreads.com)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I feel like this is such a great idea, especially with books like mistborn, maybe I would’ve enjoyed it more if I’d done this. I’ve been needing to do this, I just don’t like doing it to my precious hardbacks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you buy the brand name post it’s they stick better and won’t wreck the pages. Some of the cheaper ones I bought made the pages kind of wavy from the adhesive. That’s another tip for you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Arvenig says:

    I don’t tab because I constantly loos the sticky notes, but I love annotating in my books and then writing the page where my notes are in the first page of the book! I usually underline without stopping until the paragraph or chapter ends, I think you should try that! I also love it because it makes writing the review much easier!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t ventured into writing directly in books myself but I absolutely LOVE seeing a book with marks on the page! Highlighting, underlining, scribbles – it’s beautiful and so personal!

      Like

  15. I should do this in general. Health issues have lead to an increased frequency of memory issues. I usually read on my Kindle so this would actually be rather easy to do. Provided I could remember that function exists, or to check back for my tabs after I’m done reading… :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😂 remembering the function exists would be the biggest hurdle lol

      Like

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