Do You Take Notes While Reading? {Discussion}

Discussion Post

I think that most of you guys have realized by now that I’m a pretty organized person. I have my reading schedule finalized months in advance (I have “rough drafts” for all the way up until January 2015!), I’m writing this post on March 21st (3 weeks before today’s date!), and I’m more than a little meticulous about my Goodreads shelves.

So it should come as no surprise that I’m pretty organized when it comes to book reviews, too — I pre-schedule the dates I’m posting ARC reviews way in advance and even set a calendar reminder for when I should start reading each book. But one of my favorite parts of book review organization is my note-taking process.

The first thing I do when I start reading a book that I want to take notes on (all ARCs and a few, select “personal” reads) is open up a post draft in WordPress — that’s where all of my note-taking will take place. I don’t like using a real notebook because it just takes way too long to write out notes by hand and it’s be a lot easier to edit/add to them later if they’re already in the draft of the soon-to-be final review post. If my laptop isn’t available while I’m reading and need to write something down, I’ll just use my smartphone to email those thoughts to myself and then add them to the draft later.

The types of things I’ll take notes on from a book are:

  • My reactions to events in the book
  • Feelings about pacing, writing style, etc. if a particularly bad or good example stands out
  • Quotes that I love or hate
  • Maybe some predictions of where I think the plot is going (if I’m right, it might be worth nothing that something was too predictable or unsurprising)
  • Any other random thoughts/feelings

Later on, when I’m trying to write the review for real, it’s much easier with this information right in front of me.

A lot of times, it’s helpful to take notes on my feelings mid-book, because if a book’s ending blows me out of the water, it can be way too easy to hit that “5 stars” button if you’re not really remembering that, oh wait, I didn’t really like this, this, and this at the beginning of the book, so maybe it should really be more like 4 or 4.5 stars. So taking notes helps keep my ratings more accurate and objective, too.

The downside of taking notes while reading is that sometimes it’s hard to focus on getting caught up in a book if you’re being too analytical. But that only happens every once in a while for me, so I think that, in general, it’s a lot more helpful than harmful.

Do you take notes while reading? How do you do it? Do you find that writing reviews is easier when you have notes? Does note-taking “ruin” reading for you at all?

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21 responses to “Do You Take Notes While Reading? {Discussion}

  1. I do take notes! Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write reviews I think. I just need to write things down right when they pop into my head or else I will forget them after reading another few pages. That’s why I always have a notebook with me.
    It also helps because I sometimes have these review-writing slumps when I don’t feel like writing any. It doesn’t matter when I read the book because of my detailed notes I can write reviews even a month after I read the book.

    • Oh wow, that’s really cool! I guess if you take good enough notes, you could write the review any time! I still prefer to write my right away, just because I think I would slack off and get WAY behind if I didn’t have that rule, and I want things to be fresh in my mind, but that’s awesome that you can kind of write yours whenever you want to 🙂

  2. I have only taken notes once while reading, and it was because every single thing about the book was annoying me and I HAD to write down all the things that were annoying. There were PAGES of these things.
    But other than that one instance, I don’t write any notes about the books I read.
    I can’t really say whether I think taking notes helped, because the ‘review’ I wrote for the annoying book was just the notes I’d taken because they were kinda funny and really they were all my thoughts on the book, haha.
    I don’t know if not taking would ‘ruin’ the reading experience that I know that it would take me out of the world that I get in when I read. I don’t even like people talking to me, or listening to music when I read because I like to really immerse myself in the book entirely. I absolutely LOATHE it when I get interrupted when reading, so that’s why I don’t take notes … I’d be interrupting myself. And that doesn’t make any sense to me. And plus, I remember everything I want to say about the book when it comes time to write my reviews but that’s because I have a freakishly good memory 😀

    • Damn you and your freakishly good memory! I’m so jealous of you!! 😉

      Yeah, I really hate being interrupted while reading, too. My boyfriend used to do it all the time and it used to drive me crazy, so now we have a rule that he has to politely tap me on the shoulder and then when I get to a good stopping point, then I’ll put the book down and he can say whatever he wants to say, haha! I guess I don’t mind when it’s myself, though. I just wait until the end of the chapter or whatever and then jot down notes or take down a quote. That way, even though I guess it does kind of interrupt the flow of reading, it’s not quite as bad.

  3. When I first started blogging I used to take notes whilst reading all the time. Either just on whatever e-reader I was using or on post-its in my book, but for some reason I haven’t done that for ages. I think I’ve just got in the rhythm of reading and writing reviews and don’t really feel the need to write notes.

    It can definitely make reviewing some books a lot easier though! And I hate going to write a review knowing you had something specific to say about it but have forgotten what it was! I should really get back in the habit.

    • Haha yeah sometimes it can be really helpful. I definitely don’t ALWAYS take notes. I think that, for whatever reason, it’s just easier if you take notes for some particular books — whether it be because they’re really confusing or you think the writing is really pretty or there’s a lot of stuff you want to complain about. But other books I really don’t need to do that because, like you, I’ve been reading and reviewing books for enough time now that I’ve gotten used to the process and don’t always need notes. But it definitely helps me a lot for certain books.

  4. I always take notes for review books, but sometimes I wish I didn’t have to. I long for the days before blogging when I could just read for the sheer pleasure of it. I always write down my reactions and highlight plot points that I want to remember for the review. And I always include at least one favorite quote, so I have to write those down.

    • Awww. But do you read other books besides review books? Because maybe you don’t have to take notes for those ones and you can just relax and it’ll be like the old days! I try to make sure I have a good balance of review books and personal books so that I don’t get overwhelmed. Lately I’ve been hearing so many bloggers complain about being bogged down by ARCs that I’ve barely been accepting any at all and have been doing mostly my own stuff. I just don’t want to fall down a hole where I start to resent reading/blogging.

  5. Yep! Each time. I have my black Moleskine on the couch next to me, and I make notes there. That’s also where I take notes at YA panels and events. My publication calendar is set and booked through May, and I have thematic outlines for the months foowing through December. So, yeah–I’m organized too! 🙂

    • Wow that’s great! I don’t really have outlines for upcoming months on my blog like you do, but I have a ton of posts written and/or scheduled in advance! Right now I’m currently writing book reviews for July haha. I love being organized sometimes 😛

  6. I do take notes, and I write them longhand. 🙂 I have tons of journals of copious notes of books I’ve reviewed. I write my fave quotes and all the major events that I feel are important. It makes it a ton easier to write a thoughtful review!

  7. It does sound like you’re a pretty organised person! 😛
    I don’t tend to take notes while reading- although I will occasionally, if I think of something that I want to include in my review that I think I’ll forget. And when I read on my iPad, I like to highlight quotes sometimes. But usually, I just read the book and then write the review straight away so that I don’t forget the details 🙂

    • Haha umm yeah you have no idea 😛 I, like, turn the soda cans in my fridge so that all the labels are facing forward. It’s BAD!

      I highlight quotes on my Kindle sometimes, but I get really annoyed because the service they have where you can go to Amazon and look up all of your highlights doesn’t work for eARCs, only for books that you bought and downloaded :/ So a lot of times I’ll just end up emailing them to myself instead because it’s easier.

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  11. I really need to work on my note taking skills when it comes to reading. I used to not like highlighting and writing on my books, but now I think it’s better because after reading the book, you can look back and see which scenes made you had the ‘feels’ etc.

  12. I have to take notes while I’m reading or I won’t remember enough to write a review! I don’t always even refer to my notes later, but I find that taking them still improves my memory of a book 🙂

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