Jun 27, 2016

Something New: Annotation

A few weeks ago, I came across a bunch of photos in Pinterest that showed annotated novels -- complete with notes, highlighters, and post-its across its text and margins. And knowing myself... gosh, I hate writing on books! These precious little ones are too precious to have any ink written upon themselves in lieu of its intrinsic printed text. I remember promising to myself that I would never, ever write on a book at all. But I guess, recently, that promise has been broken.

This may be such an unpopular opinion, but writing on books has never been so helpful in my life before. Because I recently wrote on my book, yes, and I annotated it for real. Like I had said to myself, I knew that I wouldn't. But guess what? Doing so actually helps, and I guess overcoming that fear is somehow worth it.

Two weeks ago, I started annotating on my copy of Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, which is a classical love story about Bathsheba Everdene, who is involved with 3 suitors named Gabriel Oak, Farmer Boldwood, and Sergeant Troy. This book was published in the 19th century, with its prose and narrative written in an intricately complex manner.

I decided to annotate this book, looking up for useful notes that I could write down on post-its to help me understand the story more. I imitated the photos I saw in Pinterest and decided to annotate my books the way the people in Pinterest did. 

And frankly, I did use highlighters, too! (I know, I would've pulled my hair out for doing this to my book, but I'm glad I got over it now.) I discovered really helpful tips online in terms of highlighting important text -- the stuff that struck you, perplexed you, or the ones that require a lot of attention or scrutiny. 

Right next to the highlighted parts, I include a little about the highlighted text. What are some additional notes or info that could help me comprehend the story more? What are my thoughts on this part? Is there any question that I would want to raise for this part? I learned that annotating books is a good way to "interact" with your book to further understand complex text.

Another thing that I do is to box out difficult or unknown words that I am not familiar with. This is a strategy or tactic that I had learned at school. If you can see from the photo above, I boxed in green the word "tact," since I was kind of unsure about its ambiguous meaning. On the bottom margin, though, I write down the word and its definition. So when I read the book or the chapter, I get to read it with a complete definition written on the bottom.

Story elements are incredibly imperative as well, Sometimes you can often forget the setting of the story and what time did the story take place in. One thing that I do is to underline the important story elements in each chapter, namely the setting and the characters involved in the chapter of the book.

This really helped me identify where the story took place and who is taking action in this part of the book. I use a separate pen color (blue) to distinguish the usage of my pens. 

It's kind of crazy for me, a neat and organized blogger and reader, to write on my books. To be honest, I never expected myself to ever do it at all. Even when I am in school, I always use a separate notebook to write my notes in regarding a book or novel when I study for Literature. But ever since I started doing actual text annotation, I learned more about the book I am analyzing and reading. And I am really happy that I overcome this fear! Annotating books is an obvious fear among us readers, but sometimes it shouldn't bother us at all because doing so would give in to more benefits and advantages.