If you're anything like me you are a devourer of books. No book is safe from me...except I'm learning how many books are out there, and it's making me mourn the hours that I'm not reading. Anyways, I'm not saying that I don't carefully read books because I do. I occasionally skip through description to dialogue, but I always make myself go back and read. However, I've never been one to annotate in my books. They are my treasures, and I want them to look the part. Plus, I don't want to slow down during exciting scenes to underline.
I'm in a literary analysis class this semester, and my professor is amazing. He's so passionate and loves the material so much that it makes class very enjoyable. However, he makes us annotate, something I wasn't very keen on until about a month ago. It's laborious, awkward and time consuming. But as we were reading The Scarlet Letter (my second time), I realized how valuable annotating is. I noticed so much more, made so many more connections, and drew a lot of intelligent-sounding conclusions.
Now, if you're a generally well read person who can say that they've gotten through at least one classic novel, you understand that there is a significant difference between classic novels and modern novels. As we learn all through high school and well into college, authors that are considered timeless can be interpreted in so many different ways. They fill their novels with all these different biblical and historical allusions that you have to really close read to completely grab hold of. When you read classics, a pen can come in real handy. I'm planning on going back and reading some of my favorites again and taking notes. Jane Eyre, round three!
So obviously, you can see the positive purpose of reading with a pen, but you might be asking: why would you annotate in a recently-published YA book? I mean, I tried annotating in a new book the way I did with The Scarlet Letter, and I just felt stupid. If we're being honest, you don't have to deconstruct every word that modern authors choose. Allusions are not as common in modern novels. Modern authors are more of storytellers than they planners of every single word. However, I still think reading with a pen has its benefits. I always find myself saying, "Ooo, I like that quote," and then completely forgetting about it and continuing to read. Then when I want to go back to find it, I can't. And that's just frustrating. So I've started reading with a pen. I don't try to dissect the novel because that makes my brain hurt too often. But I can underline my favorite quotes, note something that connects to another book, or just make comments.
So moral of the story, read with a pen. Just try it. Once. For me. It might not work for you, but if it does, you'll be able to look back in your books years from now and say, "Oh, wow--this is a really great line!" or "wow, I had some good thoughts when I was 19."
Let me know what you think!!