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The Method to My Madness

August 3, 2010

Note the little bits of paper sticking out of the bottom book (Africa's World War)! Click to see it larger.

I’ve finally found the perfect reading method for me as a blogger! So I thought I’d share, because I’m curious others’ reading styles too.

Until a few months ago, I was a dog-earer. I dog-eared the upper corner to mark my place and the bottom corner of any page with a a passage I wanted to note (for the record, these were small dog-ears…maybe a centimeter). This worked well on my own books, but since I read primarily library books, I’d feel guilty about doing a lot of bottom-corner dog-ears so I’d end up not marking all of the passages that jumped out at me.

My library’s system for handling holds involves a receipt in every book requested (colour-coded by day) with the information. While I completely understand that the library needs a method, I’ve often felt bad for trees as I once again put a big fistful of the receipts in our recycling bin. Then, a few months ago, it occurred to me: I could use the receipts as bookmarks, and then rip off tiny strips to mark each page with a notable passage. Since almost all of the books I get from the library are hold requests, and since I sometimes barely mark any passages and thus have leftover receipts, this works perfectly for me! No damage to the books, but I can mark as many bits of the book as I want (I’ve even figured out a way to mark which side the passage is on, since the receipts have a coloured side and white side). But once I had finished the book and marked all of those passages, I didn’t know what to do with them. Since I read library books, I often have to return them before I’m able to type up my thoughts on them. So sometimes I’d type all of the passages into a Notepad document, which was a bit unwieldly but at least I had them. Other times, I’d just throw in the towel and pull out all of my markers before returning the books.

Memories of Muhammad is the only book I've finished and not started typing out passages from. You can see how tiny the strips are, and how many I use sometimes!

This made me sad, because I used to love collecting quotes from the books I was reading: in high school, I kept a commonplace journal and it brought me a lot of happiness! Then, early in my book blogging, I would just type out my favourite passages and stick them at the bottom of my post, after my review (like in this one). But now that I often do multiple reviews at once, and even my individual reviews run on for over 1,000 words, that didn’t seem feasible anymore. Then, when I was leaving a comment on one of Jenny’s posts a couple of weeks ago, the obvious jumped out at me: a private blog where I could type out all of the passages from one book to one post (or the author/books the book mentions that I want to look into), would be able to search, and wouldn’t have to worry about it being too long to publish for general consumption. Eureka!

I’ve been doing that since The Seamstress, and it works perfectly for me. I type out all of the passages, and then when I’m writing my review, it’s easy-peasy to copy and paste the relevant ones in (so, sometimes, I’m typing out passages that struck me for their bad writing instead of their good writing, if that’s what I want to talk about in my review!). It does take awhile, especially with international-relations-y nonfiction (when I always mark a million passages as if I’m going to write a paper on the author’s arguments), but I either do it while watching TV/a movie or listening to an audiobook. And while it takes a bit more effort, I feel so happy knowing that I’ll have an even more permanent

Here's a screenshot from my new online commonplace book!

record of the books I’ve been reading (I love to do collage pages in my journal with a couple magazine cut-outs and favourite quote) that I’m willing to put in the extra work. And since I type much more quickly than I handwrite, this is the easiest way to do it. Plus, when I sit down to write a post, I don’t have to try to go round up a physical notebook too. In the future, I might play around with doing an online collage/quote type of journal, but for now, keeping it simple is best for me (each post’s title includes the book title & author, the post starts with an image of the cover, and then just has each passage with the page number in parantheses at the end).

So, there: that’s my just-perfected system that works for me! It’s such relief to have a practical way to satisfy my literary magpie. Over to you…do you have a system? Bookmarks or dogear? How do you mark your favourite bits, or the informative bits (for nonfiction)? Paper or digital? Do you record it all? Or do you just not worry?

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85 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 9:35 am

    I’m a big fan of the ripped-little-pieces-of-paper method! I still keep a reading journal that I copy the passages into (rather than recording them digitally) and have been doing so for the past five years. The only downside is all those little bits of paper which find their way into all of the most unlikely places in my apartment after I’m done recording the quotes – the perils of living in a windy city!

    • August 4, 2010 1:26 pm

      lol! I’ll find random bits of paper in my bedroom or the living room too. :)

  2. August 3, 2010 9:42 am

    One thing I must say I love about my new eReader is that it allows me to flag text with impunity and no guilt. I can highlight and make notes and never worry about ruining the book in question… In that respect, I feel like my eReader has made me a different reader. When I read physical books, I occasionally dog-ear a page here or there, but generally I read for overall themes and it’s very rare that I feel sufficiently moved to document specific quotes. I feel like I’m more a gestalt reader where I appreciate everything in its context and have a hard time dissecting the writing into bits.

    • August 4, 2010 1:28 pm

      That’s an upside of an ereader that hadn’t occurred to me! I hate marking up my books, because what if I want to reread it without being bothered by former-me thoughts? lol

      Sometimes, I’ll mark a passage and then after I’m done reading and go back to it, I realise it doesn’t work without context. So I understand why you’re not as moved by quotes! I usually have fewer passages marked in fiction and ‘narrative’ nonfiction than the kind of nonfiction I read to learn.

  3. August 3, 2010 9:44 am

    I use LibraryThing to keep track of quotes I like/notice. I put them into the “Comments” section so that I can see them when I bring up a book. Some books have a lot of quotes in there- many have zero, though. I guess I am not struck as often by language as I used to be? Or maybe I’m just lazy :-)

    • August 4, 2010 1:28 pm

      That’s a smart system! Some of the books I read, I only notice one or two passages, or nothing at all. :)

  4. August 3, 2010 9:47 am

    Wow, Eva, that’s quite a system. I use little Post-it page flags but I don’t mark a book nearly as much as you do. The best way to describe it is that I have some kind of unconscious screening system that identifies quotes “most likely to use in a review” and I mark those. But I could envision doing a lot more marking if I wasn’t only thinking about “quotable quotes.” Occasionally I find myself needing to locate a passage, even if only to remember what happened 100 pages ago, or that comment one character made to another which has now turned out to have more meaning … and those are hard to find when they aren’t marked. I’m definitely too lazy to copy them into a journal, longhand. I like your “private blog” idea!

    • August 4, 2010 1:30 pm

      Those two books are both books I was reading for information rather than pleasure, so that’s why they’re marked a lot more. :) I have the same unconscious screening system as you re: quotes for reviews! :D Some books I barely mark anything at all! I’m glad I’m not the only one too lazy to go the longhand route. ;)

  5. August 3, 2010 9:49 am

    I always apprecate the passages you include in your posts. I wanted to do the same thing but I’m terrible about marking pages, thinking I’ll find them later. I like your method and might have to steal it.

    • August 4, 2010 1:30 pm

      Thanks Linda! I HATE trying to find a passage I haven’t marked later: it’s so frustrating. :)

  6. August 3, 2010 10:14 am

    I used to use the Post It flags for passages I love, but I’ve kind of gotten away from that when reading books for pleasure. I still do it for school books simply because they’re handy when writing essays or preparing for exams. I like your private blog for quotes idea, though.

    • August 4, 2010 1:31 pm

      I used Post-it flags in my college textbooks too!

  7. August 3, 2010 10:25 am

    I’ve never been much of a dog-earer, and I also was never one of those people with the notebook full of good quotations. I could never understand how anyone could stop reading to write something down! Anyway, in the past several years I’ve become a major user of Post-It flags. I use approximately a billion a month. Approximately.

    But like you I wish I had a way to actually record these things in some kind of database. Sometimes I do post “commonplace” entries on my blog, but only in unusual circumstances. I’ve thought about having a private blog or Tumblr to take care of it myself. Or some other kind of home-cooked database. The private blog option keeps seeming like a good one but I need to spent too much time actually thinking—as in hard—about how I need to set things up.

    Funnily enough, I’m actually in the middle of a very similar project for work, which is equally frustrating, and I don’t have enough time to think about that either.

    • August 4, 2010 1:32 pm

      lol @ your Post-It flag consumption! That’s why I wait until I’m done w/ a book to write all the quotes down, so I don’t have to stop in the middle of things. :)

      I waited a bit to write this post because I wanted to make sure the private blog thing worked, and for me it does. But I can understand needing to way options before committing!

  8. August 3, 2010 10:53 am

    Well, the librarian inside me couldn’t possibly dogear anything. Sorry. My books look like they just came off the publisher’s shelf, even when I’m done. Just my quirk. However, I do like my Kindle’s ability to mark a passage, once I finally figured out how to do it. For a regular book, I put a sticky note in the front cover and make little jottings there. I don’t read much from the library anymore (too many books of my own), but I think I would do the same with those. I have a tendency to write reviews soon after finishing a book. Otherwise, I will forget what I wanted to say. You idea of recycling the hold slips is a good one, Eva! I think most libraries struggle with how to facilitate things with their patrons and also be good to the environment. :-)

    • August 4, 2010 1:34 pm

      lol! Except for the dogearing, my books look brandnew too; I never break spines. ;)

      A sticky note in the front cover sounds handy…do you jot down the page number or the whole passage? I try to write reviews pretty soon after I finish, but sometimes I don’t have the blog space (does that make sense?) do so if I want to devote a whole post to one!

      >>I think most libraries struggle with how to facilitate things with their patrons and also be good to the environment. :-)

      I always remind myself that in the larger scale of things, libraries are VERY good for trees. ;)

  9. August 3, 2010 11:18 am

    Very cool :D You are OH so much more organized than I am :p There really is no method to my madness :p

    • August 4, 2010 1:34 pm

      lol! I just love organising things, let’s be honest. (And yet, this intellectual tidiness does NOT translate into physical tidiness…I have to work against my nature to keep my room neat. *sigh*)

  10. August 3, 2010 11:25 am

    Good lord, you’re so responsible. This is one reason I can’t deal with getting books out of the library: I am a total underlining/writing-in-books fiend, and the idea of stopping to record passages in another location (especially if that involved the computer, on which I already spend FAR too much time) is so heinous to me. I like to be able to see my flagged passage in context, and find it easily within the marked page. (Plus, I am crap at returning things to the library on time & end up racking up huge fines.) In addition to the underlining, I’ve taken to writing notes/tracking motifs/etc. on the back pages of books, where there is often some blank space. My books do NOT come out looking pristine, but hey – that’s why I bought them, I suppose. :-)

    • August 3, 2010 4:52 pm

      Thank you, Emily! You’ve just given me a perfect excuse for continuing to buy books instead of going to the library :-). I’ve been cautious about marking in books because I used to give them away on Paperbackswap, which doesn’t allow marking in books, but I haven’t been doing that lately. But if I own the books and give fair warning should I choose to give them away, well…

    • August 4, 2010 1:36 pm

      LOL: I do it for my own pleasure, so I don’t look at it as being responsible! And I don’t stop reading to record something down…once I’ve finished a book I go through it and record everything I want. I only do it when I’m watching a movie or something anyway, so it’s more like a mindless second task. ;)

      I used to write in books, and I wouldn’t mind doing that again, but I HATE underlining, because it drives me crazy is the line isn’t perfectly straight, Weird, right?

  11. August 3, 2010 11:54 am

    Sounds like you’ve got a good system! I don’t have any sort of system at all, but I do love to have a memorable passage or few from a good book to save even after the book is long gone. Perhaps I should devise a system, too…. :)

    • August 4, 2010 1:37 pm

      I’m curious to see what you’ll come up with! I can see so many options…recording yourself saying the passages in files on your computer if you’re more of an audio person, etc.

  12. August 3, 2010 11:56 am

    I’ll be honest. I don’t take down quotes at all. I used to mark pages to go back to and then, when I went back, the context was gone for why I loved something and they always just seemed okay on their own. However, I just bought a couple of notebooks and am thinking about restarting note-taking while reading. Not with every book, just with some. I feel like I’m lacking some depth in my reviews because my remarks are too general. Maybe if I get really into it, I’ll have to find a method!

    • August 4, 2010 1:38 pm

      That makes sense: as I said to Steph, sometimes I’ll go back to a passage I marked and realise it just can’t stand on its own. Part of why I like marking passages is that it helps me remember what details I wanted to talk about in my review, you know?

  13. August 3, 2010 12:18 pm

    When reading my own books, I will dog-ear passages I want to go back to, often underlining the actual quote I thought was interesting. For library books, I tend to mark them much like you do–with receipts. I just copy my quotes at the end of my blog posts that review the books I finish. I don’t read more than one book at a time, so I don’t finish multiple books at one time. So it’s simple for me to review them :)

    • August 4, 2010 1:38 pm

      That works! Hopefully, when I’m healthy and working, I won’t have to review more than one book at once either. I do like giving each book its own post, but right now I average more than 7 books a week, so it just wouldn’t work (and I like doing non-review posts too).

  14. August 3, 2010 12:52 pm

    Well, due date receipts shread into tiny strips or small post-its work for me, when I want to remember where to find certain passages in a book. However, I hardly ever use quotes in my reviews and mark passages only occasionally. You are much more organized when you read than I am in my reading! :)
    When it comes to nonfiction, if the book is very important to me (i.e. usually about women’s history and I think it might be useful if I ever get as far as really writing my dissertation… ), I will save the passages I want to keep in mind onto my computer.

    Greetings,
    Tiina

    • August 4, 2010 1:39 pm

      Interesting that we both mark more in nonfic related to our academic interests! :)

  15. August 3, 2010 1:03 pm

    Wow! What a system. I feel like the loser child in the corner; I don’t mark passages or quotes at all from the books I read. I don’t keep track of them or write them down or anything! I used to be a (general) journal keeper and loved it, but now I don’t even do that. I even asked for (and got) for Christmas 2 Book Club Organizers. I immediately wrote in the books we had read so far then stopped.

    And, I am a really organized person. Maybe I would love keeping a journal of books I read, what I thought of them and quotes. Wait…that’s what my blog is. Except for the quotes. I am babbling. I guess I wish I was like all of you and actually keep quotes/passages, but I don’t.

    • August 4, 2010 1:40 pm

      I’m awful at keeping physical journals…I was good about it my first year of college and while I studied abroad, but that’s about it. Day-to-day physical journals always get neglected.

      I love my blog because it’s a journal of my reading too! But don’t feel bad that you don’t mark passages; if you don’t find it valuable, why would you spend time on it? :)

  16. August 3, 2010 1:15 pm

    Having a private blog for quotes is the most AMAZING IDEA. I’ve tried to keep a paper commonplace book several and it just never works– I keep losing it or leaving it behind somewhere. I think I’m going to have to steal your idea for myself. :D

  17. Kathleen permalink
    August 3, 2010 1:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing your process with us. I think having the private blog to capture quotes is a fantastic idea. I’ve tried dog earing, putting sticky notes, and writing things in a reading journal I have. So far, I’ve not hit on the right method that seems to work for me. I think if I could devote a week to reading and blogging I might be able to figure it out!

    • August 4, 2010 1:40 pm

      At least you’re trying new things! I hope you hit on the right combination soon. :)

  18. August 3, 2010 2:30 pm

    Can I ask what you’re saving them for? Of course I’m all for saving good little passages, but I wouldn’t do it myself if it weren’t for the fact that I want them for epigraphs–that, and I like having a record of what I read when. I couldn’t switch to an internet one myself, because I love going back through my commonplace book and seeing–oh, just what pens I was using and how my handwriting changed. It brings back so many reading memories.

    • August 4, 2010 1:42 pm

      You can! First, I think it adds depth to my ‘collection’ of reads…it makes them seem more tangible, does that make sense? Especially since I primarily read library books. Also, I don’t have any physical collections, but I love having an ‘intellectual’ one. And, my commonplace book from high school got lost in my last move, and I really miss it! Which tells me that I do enjoy going back and seeing what passages I loved from books I read. :)

  19. August 3, 2010 3:11 pm

    I’m so glad you’re not dog-earing anymore and you’ve found a system that works well for you. Good also about the private blog as commonplace book. I just love when things come together!

    • August 4, 2010 1:42 pm

      I love when things come together too! :)

  20. August 3, 2010 3:32 pm

    Wow, Eva, you are so organized! I never used to dog-ear but I have started to, marking pages I want to quote. Bad habit, I know. I also have been using long sticky notes to write down ideas that I want to include in reviews. Your idea of using those long strips of paper from the library is just brilliant and I am stealing it! I use all sorts of things for my bookmarks but favor the ones I get free from my local booksellers.

    The idea of an unpublished blog for quotes and book notes is a good one but I would miss my battered journal. Besides, I write faster then I type!

    • August 4, 2010 1:43 pm

      I don’t think it’s a bad habit! ;)

      That’s neat that you write faster than you type; if I try to write longhand a lot out at once, my hand gets cramps. :(

  21. August 3, 2010 3:53 pm

    Eva! I totally created a tumblr for this exact purpose (favorite quotes from books) and had totally been slacking/almost forgotten about it…so thanks for the reminder!

    It’s always wonderful when we find something that works so well for us :)

  22. August 3, 2010 4:02 pm

    I don’t dog-ear or mark inside books. About the time I started my blog, I got a notebook to jot down thoughts/passages I like (or don’t like) to reference when writing my posts. Simple, but works for me! Glad you figured out what works for you, too :)

  23. August 3, 2010 4:12 pm

    I also use post-it flags to mark the passages I want to copy out for posterity — I have a commonplace book that I add all my favourites to. I’ve been doing it since university days and am on my third notebook. I love to sit and look through them from time to time, it brings back so many memories of the book and of the person I was when I read it and thought that the particular quote was of interest. I like to handwrite and probably always will :)

    • August 4, 2010 1:44 pm

      That’s so cool! I really think I should do a whole journal full of quote/picture collages, since I enjoy that much more than just keeping a day-to-day journal. Maybe I’ll pick up an empty journal today: thanks for the inspiration. :)

  24. August 3, 2010 4:14 pm

    I’m a big fan of the ripped-up-library receipts as well, that’s how I’ve been marking passages since I was a kid. I used to keep a couple scrapbooks with all my favorite passages but I haven’t had time to do that lately. Instead, I save the quotes in Goodreads. Ideally, I’d like to go back sometime when I have more time, print them and organize them into scrapbooks again.

    • August 4, 2010 1:45 pm

      I didn’t realise you could save quotes via Goodreads: that’s cool!

  25. August 3, 2010 4:40 pm

    *sheepish* Am I the only person who has never heard of a commonplace journal? Sheesh. :)

    I do like your idea, but like others, I already spend way too much time at the computer. I do keep a book journal though to jot down my thoughts and some quotes – but not nearly all of them. Right now I’ve been flagging them but I truly miss underlining and annotating my books. I stopped awhile ago because I began posting books I knew I never wanted again on PBS or BM and I know that people don’t want highlighted books.

    • August 4, 2010 1:46 pm

      If you miss it, I say go back to it. Even if you don’t get to use PBS/BM as much! :)

      I only type passages up when I’ve got something else to entertain me, but I can understand not wanting any more computer time.

  26. August 3, 2010 4:41 pm

    Funny, I can’t bring myself to dog-ear a book but I can mark it up with a pen. Double think? Guilty. Anyhow, my marginalia has developed a grammar all its own, and it constantly changes, too. Cheers, Kevin

    • August 4, 2010 1:46 pm

      That is funny: I’m the opposite! But your marginalia sounds like fun. :)

  27. August 3, 2010 5:08 pm

    I’ll confess to being a dog-earer too. But I don’t dog ear many pages, and the ears are tiny. If I have little sticky notes at hand I’ll use those instead, perhaps even writing something on the sticky note if a pen is at hand. I’ve also thought about buying some book darts so I’m not using up so much paper.

    I’ve been reading about close reading lately, and I remember marking in books for school, which actually encouraged me to read more closely. I’d circle favorite passages, ask questions or argue with the author in the margins, write overarching observations on the flyleaf. I stopped doing that when I started getting most of my books from the library and giving away most of my non-keeper purchases on Paperbackswap, which doesn’t allow marked up books. I’ve thought about keeping those kinds of notes in a journal as I read, but it’s so much trouble to keep a journal handy. And I like the idea of having my observations in one place and seeing the quotes in context, as others have mentioned. So even though it’s a sacrilege among many book lovers, I may go back to writing in my books. Emily has inspired me!

    I’d have to figure out another way of keeping notes in library books or loans from friends, and I probably couldn’t bear to write in my beautiful Everyman’s editions. And if I gave any books away, I’d have to give fair warning that they are full of commentary.

    I’ve also been wanting to start up a commonplace book, which I haven’t done for years (and before I’d ever even heard the term), but I think I’m like others and need to not add another online venture. I did love looking through my old one, which was mostly of poetry, and would enjoy having one again.

    • August 4, 2010 1:47 pm

      That makes sense! I think my blogging has made me a closer reader. :)

      Right now, I’m thinking of a way to transform my online commonplace journal into a physical one…I love to collage, so it will probably be related to that!

  28. August 3, 2010 5:50 pm

    What a great system!! I either have a notepad document or, depending where I’m reading, a slip of paper (often an airline ticket, to show where this gets used most!) and I write enough of the quote down to find it back easily. Not having a lot of library books this works well as I have the time to go back and find the quotes.

    • August 4, 2010 1:48 pm

      That would work well for personal books!

  29. August 3, 2010 5:53 pm

    Dog-earing? Pens? I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear anything about that!

    Like you, most of my reading consists of library books. My solution is this- giant notecards. The lined side is for notes, the unlined for words I don’t know. (You should see my card for Ivanhoe. Yeesh!) Once I look up all the words and write them down in these tiny notebooks I have, the card is trashed.

    For some reason, I can’t really get into the swing of commonplace books- they sound wonderful, but I’ve never been really motivated to do so. I think I might look into it… your solution is quite elegant!

    • August 4, 2010 1:48 pm

      lol! Your card system sounds organised; I’d probably forget to bring the card with me half the time! :)

  30. August 3, 2010 6:34 pm

    I’m uh, dog-earer. Then again, I own the books I read. No such thing as a good public library here, I think.

    • August 4, 2010 1:49 pm

      I don’t think dog earing is a crime, especially when it’s your own books. ;)

  31. August 3, 2010 7:16 pm

    It was funny you posted this today — I was just thinking about starting another blog or online space to keep book quotes for when I do reviews. Right now, I have a post it in each book and take down page numbers and thoughts, but don’t always save the quotes if they don’t go in the review. I thought having a place to do that would be nice. I’m glad that works for you; I might try it!

    • August 4, 2010 1:49 pm

      Do try it: it’s been working really well for me!

  32. August 3, 2010 10:59 pm

    I love your new method.

    I still dog -ear my own books. If there are too many pages I just write down the page numbers on the last page and then mark with pencil on the respective pages. I dont really feel bad about it. In fact I like that the book looks used and loved.

    But you’re right, you can’t do that with library books. I just type them out. I also add them in their review but it’s not always possible.

    • August 4, 2010 1:49 pm

      I can see how having the list on the back page would be nice-looking! :)

  33. August 4, 2010 12:34 am

    I’ve tried using a blank piece of note paper as a bookmark and writing down the quotes i liked on that… but basically I’m too lazy and I forget. :-)

    • August 4, 2010 1:50 pm

      lol! I couldn’t do a writing system while reading, because I wouldn’t remember to keep a pen handy. That’s why I like ripping up my bookmark instead. ;)

  34. August 4, 2010 5:45 am

    I don’t really have a system, and I need one. When I was in my early 20s, I kept an index card file of passages from books that I wanted to keep and savor.

    • August 4, 2010 1:50 pm

      Oh index cards! That’s how I did my research for my senior honour’s thesis. :D

  35. August 4, 2010 6:37 am

    I jot down the pages on a piece of paper which also serves as a bookmark (that’s why I don’t get to use all of my beautiful bookmarks) and then I scanned those pages and convert them into digital file that sits on my hard disk or burn them onto a data CD.

    That’s the best for me. Because I don’t want to hoard books, and if I do want to refer back to any quotes I wanted, all I have to do is checked my scan pages in the computer. ;)

    • August 4, 2010 1:51 pm

      Scanning is such a clever idea! Go you! :)

  36. August 4, 2010 8:12 am

    This is a great idea! I kept a quote journal/commonplace book in high school and it brought me a great deal of joy, too. I might have to try this!

  37. August 4, 2010 8:46 am

    It sounds like a lot of work, but if it makes things easier for you in the long run then that’s great! I understand what you mean about not having time to write down quotes before you return something to the library though. It happens to me all the time. I used to keep a word document with quotes, but I’ve found that sometimes I don’t even have time for that. I should use it more often though.

    • August 4, 2010 1:52 pm

      It isn’t a lot of work…it took me about an hour to type out the passages from four books this morning, while I was watching After the Thin Man. But it also brings me joy, so the time tradeoff is worth it. :)

  38. August 4, 2010 3:45 pm

    I must use a bookmark but when it comes to taking notes of books I’m reading, I’m all over the place. Sometimes I use post-it notes to mark and make a quick note of why I’m saving the page. If I’m a bit more organized I’ll actually take notes but that doesn’t happen as often as I would like. The problem is that my reviews are done sometimes weeks after I finish reading a book and my notes aren’t very detailed so sometimes I forget why I even marked a certain passage! I guess I need to stop procrastinating when it comes to reviews!

  39. August 4, 2010 4:10 pm

    I can’t resist weighing in. I love the idea of tearing off a piece of your bookmark to flag passages. I have recently tried sticking a large post-it note in the front of the book or using a 3×5 card as a bookmark to make notes. But then I need a pen or pencil with me and that just doesn’t always happen.

    I also love the idea of a commonplace blog! I hope you’ll consider sharing it with us someday.

  40. August 5, 2010 12:47 am

    I do the same with notes that come with books: I don’t have many “official” bookmarks and so I use simple notes I have lying around. I sometimes write down the pages on these notes instead of tearing them up. I am not as systematic as you with writing down all these quotes. I only do that for research related books.

  41. August 5, 2010 4:35 am

    Hi, Eva. Admit to being a little O.C. — I do, haha. I used to cut up random bits of paper to use as bookmarks. And then I started making a mess, so I needed the Post-it flags. :]

    A funny thing about my reading habits: I can write on my books, I can litter them with Post-it flags [so I don’t have to leaf through the book looking for my thoughts] — but I will never crease the spine. I think it’s mostly because I rarely buy books brand new, so I take extra care of them. Although I can relax with secondhand books, with their folds and creases.

    I keep a commonplace little red notebook, with thoughts, quotes. That, with the marginalia, the Post-it flags, it’s difficult to explain how it’s just so seamless with my reading. People find it weird, really, haha.

    But I’d rather have a notebook with me, a journal. I mean, I’m reliant on the computer too much as it is. It’s the way I’m used to — I’ve been keeping a diary since I was nine. And, besides, as I type my scribbles down, I get to think too. ;]

    Thanks for sharing!

  42. August 5, 2010 7:10 am

    I am very impressed with your commitment to keeping track of quotes! If I own a book, I will underline and mark passages. If not, I just try not to worry. These days I am lucky to find time to read at all, so I try to enjoy the story without stressing about remembering the language.

  43. August 6, 2010 2:27 pm

    Ooh, I like your private blog for quotes idea. I collect quotes in a little book, but I am very selective about what I add to the book, so it hasn’t been that big of an issue to write them out by hand. Still, I would really like to organize my quotes by author, source, and subject and be able to search for them. Maybe a blog would work better for that.

    I used to try to always write down quotes as soon as I came across them in the book, but that didn’t work so well since I didn’t like to interrupt my reading in order to write down a quote. So relatively recently I started putting small post-its in the book to mark quotes, and not writing any of them down until I finished the book. I like this system – besides being faster to do while reading, it allows me to see if I still like the quote well enough to write down when I get to the end of the book :)

  44. August 8, 2010 3:33 am

    Interesting insight into the method to the madness!

    I don’t have a method per se but do have a routine. I don’t dog-ear but have several bookmarks (I’m always misplacing them all and go through phases of using one or two on a book-to-book basis) and I don’t “deface” books ;) The exception is books I am studying -more applicable when I was at uni- that I lightly write pencilled notes in the margins, highlight passages with bible pencils (fabulous invention! My boyfriend bought them for me) and add fluorescent sticky page markers. In general pleasure reading I take a note of page numbers or thoughts electronically (in my mobile/cell phone!) for blog use later and if there is a particularly striking passage then I’ll write it out in my reading journal; I also take note of every book I read in said journal.

    You have given me the idea to now add collages to my reading journal :)

  45. August 8, 2010 5:35 am

    What a great idea. That sounds like such an awesome idea. A whole blog dedicated to favourite passages and quotes! I love it.

    I’m not a fan of the dog-earing system. (Then again, I’m one of those annoying people who has to go over the ‘rules’ of borrowing any of my books – “No bending the spine … OR ELSE”.) I collect bookmarks and always mark my place with it. If there’s a passage or sentence I particularly like, I’ll underline it in pencil but never really put it anywhere. I think I just like the idea of picking up the book in five years time, discovering what I underlined when I was younger and seeing what affected and moved me at that time in my life. :)

  46. August 14, 2010 10:08 am

    The major of the books I read are from the library so I use post-its for all the passages I want to re-read or remember. If the book I’m reading is one of my own, I do the same but if I’m re-reading it, I’ll mark it up. I use post-its for my own books because I only keep books I truly love and know that I’ll reread. The rest I give away without hesitation. I hate reading books that already contain writing since it influences my own perspective of a book, so I try not to do that to others.

  47. August 18, 2010 8:10 am

    I’m always so impressed by the organisational skills of book bloggers. I’ve only recently stopped dog-earing the books I read once I started using bookmarks (I started with the Persephone bookmarks!) and I never really used to worry about writing down quotes until I realised I actually can’t remember the passages that touched me when I come to writing my posts. I’m contemplating a reading notebook to jot down thoughts and quotes, but it’s difficult when you’re reading on the train. But I think I may have to. My memory isn’t as it used to be… Reading your post has made me want to try out different methods just to see what’ll work best!

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