Discussion: Why I Don’t Annotate

Bullet journals and annotated books have been popping up all over my instagram and twitter feeds, and I think they’re absolutely beautiful. They are – everyone has their own unique styles, and it’s so interesting to look at – but they are not something that I feel any need to do for myself for three specific reasons.

The first reason is that I don’t generally share my books. I live fairly far away from friends and family that I would share my books with. My best friend and I have very different tastes in books – she loves anything romantic and contemporary, where I’ll read anything for some magic. We still pass books back and forth on occasion, but it’s a rarity. My sister and I pass books back and forth, but she hates reading things in the margin, so I wouldn’t be able to share annotated books with her. I talk about books on my blog, and on Twitter, because those are the best places for me to share these with others.

The second reason I don’t annotate is that I don’t have money for multiple copies of books. Honestly, I don’t know how some bloggers are able to buy 30 books every month. I have a credit card through Barnes and Noble, which gives rewards in gift cards. Those semi-monthly gift cards are basically the only money I have budgeted to actually spend on books. If something comes on sale for really cheap that I’ve wanted to read, I’ll grab it, but I generally won’t spend more than $5 on a book on sale because it isn’t in my budget. I maybe buy one or two books a month, but I go several months without buying any on a regular basis.

The third reason that I don’t annotate is that I have more than a little anxiety about spelling things wrong, or having it look bad once I’m done. I was an art major for a semester and a half, and it made me realize that I love working digitally – in writing, in art and in reading. I can’t mess something up to the point of no return when I’m working digitally. I absolutely can when I’m working on something physical, and it pains me to tear out a page of a notebook where things are bound so that they won’t tear out. What if I messed something up in pen on a book? I’d have to buy another one, going back to my second point, and I can’t afford to do that regularly.

All that being said, I love the beauty that some people turn out with their annotations and bullet journals. They’re absolutely pieces of artwork, and I’m glad they do them, because they allow me to see the beauty of their love for this particular book.

Do you annotate books or do a bullet journal? Tell me about why you either do or don’t! I want to know!

7 thoughts on “Discussion: Why I Don’t Annotate

  1. I’m constantly in awe of how beautiful people’s annotations and journals are. Mine would look like such chicken scratch in comparison, so I totally hear you on that anxiety!

    I too have no idea how some people afford so many books per month. I imagine they’re just super financially secure. I hope I can get there one day, but I also don’t really know where I’d fit that many books in an apartment/home or if I’d even WANT to. (Maybe if I had a home library, but even so, I’d want to fill it with things I love rather than impulse buys.)

    1. AGREED. Like my handwriting is nice if you can read cursive, but what if the person I’m sharing it with doesn’t read cursive?? A lot of the people I see buying that many books are teenagers, or people whose parents are paying a lot of their bills. While I wish that was my life, at least security-wise, I also don’t have space for that many books! I have a 650 square foot apartment that already has 3 full bookshelves in it! I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!

  2. I am with you! For you three reasons. And my handwriting looks like the scribbles of a second grader :p I share books, but usually I will talk with the person I shared with about the book rather than annotating and possibly influencing what they think of the book!

  3. If I could draw, I might consider annotating my books, but I absolutely cannot. I tried writing notes in the margins of a book I was reading once, and that was okay, I guess. I felt hugely guilty about writing in my book.

    I do this one single thing: in pencil in the back pages of my books, the blank ones, I write down the dates and rough circumstances of when I most recently read that book. This is a newish system for me, though. I may yet change it.

    1. OMG Yes. I had to write in a book for class and I felt so bad! And this was a book of student-submitted stuff, not even really good work!
      I love the idea of writing down the dates you read it in a book – definitely would be helpful when deciding which ones to donate, and how they changed your world.

  4. I only ever annotated books when I had to! I can’t bring myself to do it. My Mum taught me when I was very young that books were not to be written in and I took that to heart. A tutor of mine at Uni wouldn’t let us make notes on paper, we had to do it in the book and I hated her for it. They would be the same notes in or out of the book so why should it matter?! But I digress… I’ll probably never write in a book mainly because I would make a mess of someone else’s work!

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