Once upon a time I would pick up a book and read. It did not require much effort or time; but my reading experience would be short-lived. However after reading The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, I knew I did not want to read a book that old way ever again.
Immediately, I bought a three ring binder, inserted lined paper, and created a commonplace book for my note taking.
Like a typical rule follower, I began by reading each chapter of the novel, underlining or highlighting important ideas, adding question marks to sections I did not understand, circling names, drawing stars, happy faces, and brackets to areas of agreement or amusement, and occasionally inserting my own opinions in the margin. After completing a chapter, I paused to write at least one or two sentences into my commonplace book summarizing the most important event from that particular chapter.
|A large space for a few thoughts is a gold mine.|
Then, like a typical rule breaker, I twisted the procedure a bit. After several good books, I found that I could quickly jot a sentence or two in the blank area between chapters without ever using separate paper. Having my bulky binder with me at all times was not conducive, especially given that I started reading everywhere: while I was homeschooling, cooking diner, waiting for hours at the doctor’s office, or riding as a passenger in the car.
|Sometimes one word is enough.|
Soon, using a fat highlighter and making short sentences in between chapters would wane, too. Hence, this is what I do now: while I still underline, add question marks, make circles, draw stars, smileys, and brackets, and insert occasional comments or remarks in the margins, my short sentences have simply become my own style short hand of incomplete sentences or single-word indications.
|Direct remarks to author are occasional.|
After I have read about ten chapters, I use my Word program to type out my summaries. Returning to each chapter, I attempt to interpret my scribble and short hand, reread underlined areas, and finally come up with full and complete sentences in English summarizing each chapter, which I eventually form into paragraphs. When I have finished reading the entire book and have typed up all of my summaries, I print them out and stick them into my binder.
Yes, it was inevitable that my note-taking while reading would de-evolve because it fit my lifestyle for the time being. And who knows. That could all change again, too.
For a different perspective on note taking while reading, please visit these fellow WEMers at:
Some would say it is dreadful to write in a book, and I am genuinely in full agreement. I loathe to write in my books; but I do it all the time. I have lent books to friends who laugh to find my colorful thoughts written within the margins.
But, sticky notes lose their stick, and lose leaf paper gets lost. What else can I do when I must add my thoughts as they instantly come to me? Hence, I have been reduced to purchasing a second copy of a book that I plan never to deface; and I have done it once already. That book was Jane Eyre.