Have you ever found yourself reading a novel and struggling to stay engaged with the story?

It’s not uncommon, especially if you’re a busy person with a lot on your mind.

May I introduce: annotations.

Annotations are a way to actively engage with a novel, enhancing comprehension and retention.

By underlining key phrases, jotting down notes in the margins, and making connections between different ideas, you can deepen your understanding of the story and retain it more effectively.

Imagine you’re reading a popular novel that’s been on your TBR for a while.

You start by highlighting key phrases that stand out to you and making notes in the margins about your reactions to the characters and the plot.

As you continue reading, you start to see patterns and connections between different characters and plot points.

You make note of these connections, and they start to deepen your understanding of the story.

As you get further into the novel, you find yourself really engaged with the characters and invested in the plot.

You use sticky notes to mark pages with important information, and you start to see the novel as a cohesive whole rather than just a collection of individual chapters.

By the time you finish the novel, you feel like you’ve truly engaged with the material and experienced the story on a deeper level.

Annotations aren’t just useful for understanding the plot and characters, though.

They can also help you explore themes and motifs in the story.

Imagine you’re reading a novel with a complex narrative structure (say, one that has a floating narrative in a different timeline than the main narrative).

You start making notes in the margins about the different timelines and how they intersect with each other.

You underline phrases that relate to a particular theme and jot down your thoughts on how the author develops that theme throughout the story.

By using annotations to explore these deeper elements of the novel, you can gain a richer understanding of the story and its underlying themes.

In both cases, annotations help you get more out of your reading experience.

They allow you to engage with the novel on a deeper level, making it easier to retain information and understand key concepts.

Plus, playing literary detective and almost reverse engineering what he author was thinking, and diving deeper into speculating what may have occurred or what characters thought “off-screen”, is surprisingly addictive.

So the next time you find yourself struggling to stay engaged with a novel, try using annotations to enhance your experience.

If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to retain the information you just read, annotations can help.

They are a way to actively engage with a text, enhancing comprehension and retention.

Here are some tips on how to get started with annotations as you read:

  1. Gather your tools before you begin. Make sure you have the tools you need. A pen or pencil, highlighters, and sticky notes are all useful tools for annotating. Choose the tools that work best for you and your reading preferences. A notebook can also be helpful to jot down thoughts in.
  2. Set a purpose. Before you start reading, consider what you hope to gain from the text. Are you reading for pleasure or for academic purposes? Do you have specific questions or topics you want to explore? Having a clear purpose in mind will help you focus your annotations.
  3. Read actively. As you read, pay attention to what stands out to you. Underline or highlight key phrases or sentences that resonate with you. Jot down notes in the margins to clarify confusing ideas or to record your reactions to the text. You can also use sticky notes to mark important pages or passages.
  4. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you read. If something is confusing or unclear, write down your questions in the margins or on a sticky note. Asking questions helps you engage with the text on a deeper level and can help you better understand the material.
  5. Make connections. If you notice connections between the text you’re reading and other books, movies, or experiences, make note of them. Jot down your thoughts in the margins or on a sticky note. Making connections between different ideas or experiences can help deepen your understanding of the material.
  6. Summarise. After you finish reading a section or chapter, take a few minutes to summarise what you just read. Writing a brief summary in the margins or on a sticky note can help you consolidate the information in your mind and make it easier to remember.
  7. Reflect. At the end of each reading session, take a few minutes to reflect on what you just read. Write down your thoughts, reactions, and any questions you still have. Reflecting on the material helps you process the information and engage with it on a deeper level.
  8. Review. After you finish reading the text, review your annotations. This will help you consolidate your thoughts and identify important ideas and themes. Use your annotations to write a brief summary of the text, highlighting the main ideas and key takeaways.

But, wait! I’m reading an audiobook, how do I annotate then?

I’m so glad you asked. I love audiobooks and listen to a lot of them.

Annotating an audiobook can be a little trickier than annotating a physical book, but it’s still totally doable.

Here are some tips for annotating an audiobook:

  1. Use the notes app on your phone. Most audiobook apps have a notes or bookmarks feature that allows you to make notes while listening to the book. If your app doesn’t have this feature, you can use the notes app on your phone to jot down notes as you listen.
  2. Pause and rewind. If you hear something in the audiobook that you want to make a note about, pause the book and rewind a few seconds so you can listen to it again. This will allow you to make a more accurate note about the passage.
  3. Use a physical notebook. If you prefer to make physical notes, keep a notebook or journal handy while listening to the audiobook. Jot down notes as you listen, or use symbols or abbreviations to quickly note the passage you want to remember.
  4. Take breaks and annotate as you go. Just as with a paper or e-book, it can be difficult to remember everything you want to annotate after the fact. Hit pause and take breaks while you’re reading to jot down notes. You can write down chapters and timestamps if you aren’t using the bookmark/note feature.

Annotations are a powerful tool for engaging with a text and enhancing comprehension and retention.

By following these tips, you can get started with annotations and take your reading to the next level.